I was browsing around Google today and noticed the Google Doodle was dedicated to Route 66. Reading up on why, I found that today is the 96th anniversary of the naming of Route 66, the US highway that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.
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To celebrate the anniversary of the naming, let’s check out some of the history of Route 66, nickname The Mother Road.
The beginning of Route 66 is now marked in downtown Chicago at the intersection of Michigan Ave and Adams Street and has a great view of the Sears (Willis) Tower in the background.
The first stretch of Route 66 officially opened in November of 1926 and was about 800 miles long at the time. The full length that connected Chicago to Los Angeles, nearly 2450 miles of roadway, officially wrapped up in 1937.
The Mother Road, one of the most famous stretches of roadway in the United States, crosses through 8 states, including Illinois, Missouri, a small stretch of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The famous roadway has inspired several pop culture references including the movie Cars, which can be visited at Disneyland in Anaheim California:
Additionally, many songs have been written about the road, or because of the road, including the song Route 66 by Asleep at the Wheel, whom I recently got to see Live for the second time since 2020.
Although the roadway was officially decommissioned in 1985, many parts of the road remain in use today, including over 90% of the Texas highway.
The roadway was so important to many towns along the way, that as interstates began popping up nearby, the customers brought into the towns by the route disappeared causing many businesses to close down. However, many places along the way are experiencing a revitalization today brought on by the nostalgia of the once great road.
The end of Route 66 shifted several times through the years, finally ending in downtown Santa Monica. However, the End of Route 66 sign is now located on the Santa Monica Pier, a tourist pier that includes several restaurants, shops, an amusement park as well as great views of the Pacific Ocean! If you’re ever in the area, stop by the Pier Burger, as you can see below, it’s right next to the Route 66 sign. Their burgers are amazing! Very delicious.
As you can probably tell, we’ve visited several places along the route. I lived near Route 66 for a period of time growing up and my daughter was born in Oklahoma along the route. In 2017, I even built a play gas station that may have resembled a gas station along the mother road in the early years.
View more facts here, here, and here, among many other sites.
Did you travel along the Mother Road? What’s your favorite memory? Where is your favorite travel destination along Route 66? I, unfortunately, was very young when the US highway designation was removed, but I do enjoy learning more about the history and traveling along the route as much as possible.