The Legendary Route 66: America's Mother Road
The historic Route 66, often referred to as the mother of all rides, is one of the essential icons of America. Whether you're an American or someone from abroad, the allure of this iconic highway is universally captivating. Spanning over two thousand miles, it runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, taking travelers on a journey that encapsulates the very essence of America.
Historical Insights: The Genesis of Route 66
Established on November 11, 1926, Route 66, also known as U.S. Route 66, US 66, Route 66, Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America, and the Mother Road, served travelers for around 50 years. However, by 1984, it was decommissioned as it was bypassed section by section. Now designated as Historic Route 66, it passes through the heart of the United States in a diagonal trip, peaking at Sitgreaves Pass at an elevation of 1,082m (3,550ft) above sea level.
Why is Route 66 in America so Famous?
The popularity of Route 66 skyrocketed because of the active promotion by the U.S 66 Highway Association, which touted it as “the shortest, best, and most scenic route from Chicago through St. Louis to Los Angeles”. The highway quickly became emblematic, representing a slice of quintessential Americana.
Where does Route 66 start and where does it end?
Spanning a distance of over 2,000 miles (3.200km), Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois, and terminates at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. Along the way, it crosses the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, showcasing some of the country’s most iconic roadside scenes. From the bustling streets of Chicago and St. Louis to the golden sands of Los Angeles, past the Grand Canyon and the indigenous communities of the desert Southwest, the road offers a cross-section of American vistas.
How long does it take to drive the Old Route 66?
Plan a good 13 days if you intend to drive the entirety of Route 66. With changing landscapes and varied terrains, most of the sections marked "Historic Route 66" are well-maintained. However, be prepared; the road can be confusing, as it is not featured on standard maps and has very limited road signage.
Where was Easy Rider filmed?
No discussion about Route 66 would be complete without a nod to its influence on popular culture. The legendary American road movie, Easy Rider, directed by Dennis Hopper, sees its heroes following the famous road for much of their journey, reinforcing Route 66's iconic status in American pop culture.
Pic: By Dietmar Rabich, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30517858