There is no road in America (or maybe even the world) more iconic than the historic Route 66. Alternatively referred to as the Mother Road or the Main Road of America, it was one of the United States’ original highways, running between Los Angeles and Chicago, and it has since inspired adventurers, artists, dreamers, and travelers in the millions.
US 66 was first formally established in November 1926, and it ran almost 2,500 miles from Chicago to its termination in Santa Monica, Los Angeles , passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. It provided a major route for people migrating west, and those whose businesses lay along the route enjoyed great prosperity until the route was replaced as a major thoroughfare by the Highway System, beginning in the 1950’s.
But what made US 66 so special was that it connected the main streets of America’s biggest cities with rural communities; it symbolized opportunity to people seeking escape from the despair of the Great Depression. It connected the Midwest to the West, allowing millions to change their lives for the better.
Sadly, the success of US 66 also became its downfall, as it could no longer support its traffic volume by the 1950’s. More direct routes between cities were devised and Route 66 lost its designation as a highway in 1985. It no longer exists on modern maps, and some parts of the highway are now unpaved and even impassable. Yet travelers with a sense of nostalgia can still travel some parts of the original road, thanks to the National Scenic Byways Program, through Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
Why is Route 66 so iconic? Put simply, it represents Americana. Route 66 was a route through the heart of the real America. From big cities to tiny towns, through changing classic American countryside and unique little trading posts, it was a way to see and experience who America was in its entirety. It showcased some of the nation’s most beautiful scenery; including the Grand Canyon, Native American archaeological sites, and what are now ghost towns.
Today you can still see sites along the route such as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; the Painted Desert in Arizona; Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield, Illinois; Roy’s Motel and Cafe; the Snow Cap Drive Inn, Seligman, Arizona; Wigwam Motels in Holbrook, Arizona; the Jack Rabbit Trading Post; and Santa Monica Pier. Route 66 has been immortalized by pop culture, in song, television, cinema, and literature. It has become a symbol of change in America, from its prime in the 1930’s and 1940’s to its decline by the 1970’s. You really can get your kicks on Route 66.
Here at United Streets of Art, we sell an eclectic and unique array of leather accessories for both men and women, and amongst our range are Route 66 iPhone cases and zippered coin purses. Timeless in style, there is no prouder way to wear your love of America proverbially on your sleeve.