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Start a sentence with "Get your kicks on..." and most Americans will immediately complete the sentence with "Route 66". Route 66 conjures up visions of a fun road trip across the United States, whether it was a bird's eye view from a snappy convertible or from a station wagon hauling a trailer. There was fun to be had around every turn. For thousands, Route 66 was far from fun. Route 66 was the way to a better life. The celebrated Route 66 was commissioned in 1926 as the first highway linking Chicago to Los Angeles, and though most people today would avoid two-lane highways in favor of fast-moving interstates, the interstate system was still decades away at the time. Two of the few things modern America has in common with the America of the 1920s when it comes to roads and technology is the need to transport goods to market and the desire to see the vast lands that form the United States. Shortly before the Great Depression, Route 66 was the road that offered both. In 1985, the last original bits of pavement forming Route 66 vanished from maps, so technically, Route 66 has come and gone. But in a sense, Route 66 will never disappear. It left an indelible impression on American culture, and since its creation nearly a century ago, Route 66 has become so much more than a road; it is now a myth, legend, and fantasy. Called "the most magical road in all the world", it offered a trip through the heart of America in all her glory, and some of her inglorious days.
©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors