Welcome to Route 66, America’s Highway

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

This week, we start a fourteen-week series on America’s famed Route 66.

Each week we’ll feature a postcard view from the thousands of roadside diners and motels that used to line the “Mother Road.”

Our focus will be on towns featured in the 1946 Bobby Troup classic song “Route 66.” Nat King Cole recorded the song later that year and it was an instant hit and has been covered by a litany of musical artists from Chuck Berry to the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Our inaugural postcard view is this linen-style postcard showing the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago’s Grant Park, about a block away from Route 66’s starting point.

A small signpost that bears the number “1933” in downtown Chicago, near the intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Jackson, marks the starting point of what has become known as “The Mother Road,” or America’s Highway.

US Route 66 was originally commissioned in 1926 by the newly-formed Federal Highway Administration as part of a plan to offer the public a United States highway system from coast to coast.

Picking up as many stretches of existing road as possible, “Route 66” as it became later known, spans three time zones, crosses eight states and is 2,448 miles long, ending in Santa Monica, Calif., near the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards.

When it was originally commissioned, only 800-or-so miles of the roadway was paved. The roadway wasn’t paved end-to-end until 1937, which sparked entrepreneurial enterprises such as campgrounds, motor hotels and restaurants along the way.

The advent of the interstate highway system in the late 1950s signaled the beginning of the end for what we now know as “Roadside America” and highways such as Route 66.

Many of the “kitchy-themed” motor hotels and restaurants along U.S. highways across the country began to close due to lack of business. Very few remain today.

However, anyone with a keen eye for architecture can still spot the old motor courts and motels so popular in the early to mid 20th Century.
Linen postcards of the era, depicting views of roadside taverns, filling stations, motor courts and restaurants such as this, however, are in high demand by collectors who specialize in “Roadside America” genre cards.

Since The Northeast News is celebrating International Children’s Day this week, it’s a perfect summer for a road trip.

So gather those kids up and get the road trip games like “slug bug” or “count the cars” ready to go and follow us on over the next fourteen weeks as we explore America’s iconic Route 66 as shown in antique picture postcards.

We certainly hope you enjoy the ride.


Comments are closed.

  • Remember This? Travel jug

    June 12th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Whether you’re packing a picnic for a day at the park or traveling long distances on […]

    Chain Of Rocks Bridge

    June 12th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News From the auspices of downtown Chicago and the Route 66 beginning or end point (depending on […]

    Remember This? The Road Atlas

    June 5th, 2019

    Planning a vacation? Before you load the car, check your road atlas to be sure you have the latest edition […]

    Kansas City Athletics Baseball at Municipal Stadium

    May 29th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Located at 22nd and Brooklyn, Municipal Stadium was the home to many professional sports teams long […]

    Remember This? The Kansas City Athletics

    May 29th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Major League baseball finally arrived in Kansas City when the Philadelphia Athletics moved to town in […]

  • REMEMBER THIS? Ink Blotter

    May 22nd, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A handy companion to the fountain pen, the ink blotter prevented smears and blotches that often […]

    Brush Creek synonymous with Plaza living

    May 22nd, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This Kodachrome postcard published in the late 1950s shows the numerous apartment buildings built on the […]

    Remember This? Petticoat Lane

    May 15th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Downtown shoppers, hang on to your petticoats! At the turn of the 20th Century, when ladies […]

    Sharp Building stood downtown

    May 15th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week’s postcard, published by the South West News Company of Kansas City, Mo., features a Real […]

    Swope Park – a home to exotic animals

    May 8th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News “An idea to create the largest zoological garden in the United States. There will be nothing […]

  • What’s Happening

    Northeast Chamber wants community input on art submitted for mural project

    “3 Roosters,” by Zac Laman. Photo from nekcchamber.com. Untitled art by Armando Mesa “Piece by Piece we Made These Streets,” by Maria […]

    Kansas City Chicanos

    June’s First Friday in the Westside North neighborhood saw the work of various local artists at the Mattie Rhodes Center Chicano Pachanga.

    View HNE mural proposals and vote for your favorite designs

    Northeast News The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is inviting the public for a juried selection of at least three […]