Maps of Route 66: How Road Maps Built an American Legend
“It winds from Chicago to LA,/ More than two thousand miles all the way./ Get your kicks on Route 66.”
Bobby Troup, “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66,” 1946
Running more than two thousand miles from start to finish, Route 66 is a traveler’s dream. Each end is in a major city, filled with art, music, theater, and excellent cuisine, each with its own distinctive culture. Along the way, landmarks, both natural and constructed, have always been a huge draw for travelers. Diners, distinctive hotels, and stores all compete for attention with such magnificent natural sites as the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. Many maps were drafted to include such locations, so travelers would be sure to get a look at everything deemed “worthwhile” along their path.
During the height of Route 66’s popularity, business-owners and map-makers alike used the road’s cultural caché to construct and identity for the road. Significant language and images mythologized this path between Chicago and Los Angeles.