Who hasn’t heard of the song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”? But how much do most people know about it, and how many people have actually been lucky enough to drive it? Beginning at Grant Park in Chicago, and ending at the Santa Monica Pier in California, Route 66 has been winding its way 2,448 miles across America since it was formally established in 1926. Crossing eight states, Route 66 is more than just a highway across the country – it’s like a living history of cross-country travel, culture, and kitsch.
Over the years, Route 66 was so well traveled it gradually took on an identity of its own earning names like “Main Street of America” and “The Mother Road.” As the country took to the highways, traveling families, truck drivers, and business travelers needed places to buy fuel, food and find lodging. In order to attract travelers’ dollars, service stations paired up with diners and motels, creating a new phenomena – the roadside attraction. Although many of these businesses fell on hard times when much of small town America was bypassed by the Interstate Highway system in the 50s and 60s, Route 66 didn’t wither away and disappear. Far from it. A resurgence in nostalgia is bringing many of these travel icons back to life.
More on Route 66 after the jump!