66 - The name of the two-lane interstate highway that ran
2,200 miles through six states from Chicago to Los Angeles.
"America's Main Street" and the "Highways of Dreams," this famous
highway (now designated as a National Scenic Route) was the backdrop
of the adventure series ROUTE 66/CBS/1960-64 about two young men, Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis) and
later Linc Case (Glenn Corbett) who drove about the USA in a ragtop
Corvette sports car on a quest to find out just how they fitted into
this crazy mixed up world.
Falling into ruin in many areas, today Route 66 is but a shadow of
its former glory. Much of the traffic that originally flowed along
its roads, now takes the faster, wider, and more direct route of
The original concept for the roadway project to become known as
Route 66 was inspired by Cyrus Avery, a Tulsa businessman who wanted
better roads in and out of Chicago to Oklahoma and then to the
coast. Avery pushed Congress to initiate such a thoroughfare but it
wasn't until 1938 that the last stretch was paved - which ended at
the Santa Monica Pier in California. In 1857 the land that would one
day be Route 66 was surveyed by US Army Lieutenant Edward Beale.
Both Nat King Cole and the Manhattan Transfer have done classic
renditions of a Route 66 song which suggested that the motoring
public "Get your kicks on Route 66." The lyrics and music were
written by songwriter Bobby Troup (who later appeared on the NBC
medical drama EMERGENCY as Dr. Joe Early). For the CBS TV series
ROUTE 66 composer Nelson Riddle created a breezy piano theme song
(that sounded like the open road) which became a hit record in 1962.
Another famous thoroughfare (U.S. Route #1) highlighted on the NBC
TV special "U.S. Route #1: An American Profile" (3/29/62). Narrated
by Van Heflin, it took a trip down the East Coast highway. See also
- AUTOMOBILES: "Route 66 Corvette"
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