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Destination - Illinois and the history of Route 66....
Route 66 defined a remarkable era in the growth of the USA. As it threaded its way across eight states, it left its indelible mark on the nation's physical, historical and cultural landscape.
No other road symbolizes optimism, freedom and the American Dream quite like Route 66.
It began with an Oklahoma businessman and entrepreneur, Cyrus Avery, who envisioned a road stretching diagonally across the country between Lake Michigan and the Pacific Ocean. The diagonal course made it possible to connect hundreds of rural town throughout the country and provide small communities access to a national highway system. The road was offically named Route 66 in 1926, but it was Avery who proclaimed it the
"Main Street Of America"
Many "main streets" in Illinois were already connected by the Pontiac Trail, the original automobile route between Chicago and St. Louis. In 1920, State bond issue 4 enabled the construction of a new "hard road" to connect the two cities in a more direct fashion- the first in a series of efforts to make highway travel more efficient. Already paved in concrete by 1926, the Illinois stretch of Route 66 was the first to claim it was "slab all the way".
Over the next fifty years, the road carried travellers of all kinds: migrants from the Dust Bowl, military personnel, truckers, farmers, and eventually holidaymakers. Enterprising business people along the road quickly recognised the need for food, lodging and auto services and the travel industry was born. Eventually, other amenities, such as motor courts, souvenir shops and quirky roadside attractions sprang up to meet the demand of travellers.
Illinois was no exception. From Palmer House Hilton in Chicago to the Apple Valley Motel in Granite City; from Lou Mitchells' Restaurant in Chicago to the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield from the Standard Oil Station in Odell to the Soulsby Station in Mt. Olive, the road was lined with businesses eager to serve Route 66 travellers.
Ultimately, the desire for faster, safer and more efficient roadways led to the construction of a 4-lane Route 66 following World War II. In addition to extra lanes, the road realigned to bypass the small towns that had grown accustomed to heavy traffic and the commerce that came with it. By 1977, Interstate 55 had completely replaced Route 66 in Illinois and
in 1984 the last remaing section of US 66 in Arizona was bypassed by
Interstate 40. Route 66 was offically decommissioned by the federal
government in 1985.
Fortunately. the legacy of Route 66 has survived. Today travellers of the historic highway in Illinois can cruise more than 400 miles of road, including some of the 1926 concrete segments. Historically significant structures have been preserved to help bring your Route 66 holiday experience to life.......
Call Bon Voyage to discuss your holiday along Route 66 in Illinois.....