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rsignarrow2.gif (1259 Byte) Route 66 has its beginning in the 19th century. The two entrepreneurs Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and John Woodruff of Springfield, Missouri, first had the idea of an interregional link between Chicago and Los Angeles. But it was not until 1925 that the
officially assigned to the Chicago – Los Angeles route.

 

rsignshare.gif (884 Byte) The idea of public road planners was to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities as most small towns had no prior access to a major national thoroughfare. In contrast to other highways of its day, Route 66 did not follow a traditionally linear course. Its
diagonal course linked hundreds of predominately rural communities in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas to Chicago. Thus it enabled farmers to transport grain and produce for redistribution. The diagonal configuration was further significant to the trucking industry because it traversed flat prairie lands and had more temperate climate than northern highways which made it appealing to truckers

 

rsigntwolane.gif (1343 Byte) It was the novel "The Grapes of Wrath" that served to immortalize Route 66 in the American consciousness. Hundreds of thousands of people migrated to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl, thus Route 66 symbolized the "road to opportunity".

 

rsigncrossroad.gif (1214 Byte) From 1933-38 thousands of unemployed male youths were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of the road. Finally, in 1938 it was reported as "continuously paved". The completion of the road was significant to the nation´s war effort, because the
about 70 billion dollars in capital projects throughout California that served the new industries and created thousands of civilian jobs.

 

rsignarr3.gif (1391 Byte) After the war Americans were more mobile than ever before. Thousands of people left the harsh winters of Chicago, Boston, New York in order to move to the West and its "barbecue culture" and it was Route 66 that facilitates their relocation.

 

risgncar2.gif (1320 Byte) Store owners, motel managers and gas station attendants soon recognized that even the poorest travelers needed food, automobile maintenance and adequate lodging. The demands of this new tourism industry in the postwar decades gave rise to modern facilities that
guaranteed long term prosperity. What we find along the highway 66 then, are auto camps and tourist homes. They usually provided water, fuel wood, flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities free of charge. Later on these were replace by the cabin camp that offered minimal comfort at affordable prices. They again in turn were replaced by motor courts in which all of the rooms were under a single roof. They offered additional amenities such as adjoining restaurants, souvenir shops and swimming pools.

 

rsignend.gif (1259 Byte) Unfortunately the highway system had deteriorated to an appalling condition by the early 1960´s. All roads were dangerous because of narrow pavements and antiquated structural features that reduced carrying capacity.

 

rsignseparatearrow.gif (1270 Byte) During Eisenhower´s second term and due to his commitment mass federal sponsorship for an interstate system of divided highways increased so that in 1956 the "Federal Aid Highway Act" was passed. By 1970 nearly all segments of original Route 66 were replaced by a
modern four lane highway. Consequently Route 66 symbolized the renewed spirit of optimism that pervaded the country after economic catastrophe and global war. It linked a remote and underpopulated region with two vital 20th century cities: Chicago – Los Angeles. In October 1984 the outdated, poorly maintained remnants of Route 66 succumbed to the interstate system when the final section of the original road was replaced by Interstate 40 at Williams, Arizona.

 

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