U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66 (US 66 or Route 66) was one of the original highways in the United States Numbered Highway System. It was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before terminating in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).
It was recognized in popular culture by both the 1946 hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and the Route 66 television series, which aired on CBS from 1960 to 1964. It was also featured in the Disney/Pixar animated feature film franchise Cars. In John Steinbeck‘s novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the highway symbolizes escape, loss, and the hope of a new beginning; Steinbeck dubbed it the Mother Road. Other designations and nicknames include the Will Rogers Highway and the Main Street of America.
US 66 was a primary route for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which it passed. People doing business along the route became prosperous, and they later fought to keep it alive in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.