Why Route 66 became America’s most famous road

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Route 66 is iconic. Why?
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Route 66 has gained a reputation as the United States of America’s most famous road. How did that happen, and why does it still matter?
In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores the history of the road and the textures of its present, from the road itself to the roadside attractions along the way, to the people who enjoy its diversions and those who help maintain them. It reveals a road that’s changed a lot over the decades but remains vital in unexpected ways.
When Cyrus Avery helped found Route 66 in the 1920s, he strived to create a road that would connect the Midwest to the West, and he resorted to promotional tricks and wheeling and dealing to get it done. The road quickly became a key route for migrants escaping the dust bowl and depression, forming its early reputation as “the Mother Road.”
That’s because it’s a road that’s more than a strip of concrete (or gravel, or dirt). It’s a historical document of everyone who’s traveled on it - as the many contributions from Vox’s RUvid subscribers show, that keeps it going even as the interstates run alongside it.
The number of Route 66 resources out there is huge, but we found these particularly helpful.
Check out Ron's site!
The Curt Teich Archives
You won't find essays here, but you will find a treasure trove of postcards that we used in this piece, including tons of Route 66 arcana.
Route 66: The Highway and Its People
I got to speak with Quinta Scott about her gorgeous photographs of Route 66, as well as the interviews she recorded with coauthor Susan Kelly. This book is a pleasure to look at and is packed full of information and interviews that you just can’t get any more.
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership
If you’re curious about Route 66 preservation and revitalization, this group is one of the strongest interstate partnerships searching for new ways to promote and improve the road.
Our video about the Green Book, a critical resource for black Americans wanting to travel across the country on Route 66 and beyond in the mid-1900s. ruvid.net/video/video-b33PN2NB2Do.html
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Published on


Aug 16, 2019




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Comments 1 328
Its Got A Face But No Body
If you ever plan to motor west, Travel my way, take the highway that is best. Get your kicks on route sixty-six. It winds from Chicago to la, More than two thousand miles all the way. Get your kicks on route sixty-six. Now you go through Saint Louis Joplin, Missouri, And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty. You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona. Don't forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino. Won't you get hip to this timely tip When you make that California trip…
SLVender 2 days ago
Is this dubbed lol?
Jayde Blackmar
Jayde Blackmar 3 days ago
Ok but an old lady whose hobby is dinosaurs is amazing
Dante Wilcox
Dante Wilcox 5 days ago
Fairly nonconclusive
Ding ding39
Ding ding39 8 days ago
this is fantastic great job vox
The Rev
The Rev 12 days ago
14:08 I can see some of the iconography from Cars inspiration...
박종서 19 days ago
11:28 that’s Japan, and Japan is not Southeast Asia, it’s northeast Asia
g skittlez
g skittlez 23 days ago
I'm moving to Vegas for my 30th Birthday. I'm so excited for my maiden voyage down that lovely road.
Tears Drops
Tears Drops 23 days ago
🎶 *_Get your kicks on Route 66_* 🎶
Curtis Ashandon
Curtis Ashandon 29 days ago
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Theodore-Ben Solomon
9:50 Wow. I saw the movie 'Green Book'.
Bro Bruhhh!
Bro Bruhhh! Month ago
It’s just a road
Dat Boi
Dat Boi Month ago
Disney made it famous, they could’ve chose ANY HECKING HIGHWAY yet they chose this
Isa Schneider
Isa Schneider Month ago
I live in flagstaff AZ so we drive on 66 every day
Old Man
Old Man Month ago
Route 66 was famous for two reasons. 1-Martin Milner and 2-A 1960 Corvette.
bk Month ago
I live in Asia, dunno why I am very interested in Route 66. I never been to US.
Han Solo /JFK
Han Solo /JFK Month ago
"That yellow house in Williams Arizona"... They say as I look across the street and see a yellow house by the safeway...in Williams arizona
lenpey Month ago
No mention of Kerouac? Parts of his On the Road take place on Route 66!
Conner Fields
Conner Fields Month ago
Satanic numerology. I'm not a superstitious of fundamentalistic (or satanistic) person, but I find this fact entertaining.
Anakin Skywalker
I'm here after the cars movie
Dan Locke
Dan Locke Month ago
hats off to you for this homage.
Codi Serville
Codi Serville Month ago
Ah, the Big Texan, I often passed it but never went in unfortunately. Still, I always enjoyed staying in the area at the TA that was nearby
Mateo Lazaro
Mateo Lazaro Month ago
KaChOw !
Natalie Jimenez
Natalie Jimenez 2 months ago
I live off of Route 66 🙂
Eve Thomas
Eve Thomas 2 months ago
Zero-Rxdii 2 months ago
That's such a beautiful video thank you ❤
Benjamin Newlon
Benjamin Newlon 2 months ago
I live in Amarillo!!!
Galih Naufal Pramuditho
Im not american, i thought road 66 were fiction back then. Hahaha
Atishay Jain
Atishay Jain 2 months ago
I can't believe why isn't there Cars referenceS everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE
M Lau
M Lau 2 months ago
Route -Execute Order- 66
Tamera Miller
Tamera Miller 2 months ago
3:45 Today i learned i have a family connenction to Route 66.
BZ Ent
BZ Ent 2 months ago
The music in this video is amazing
Nily Sener
Nily Sener 2 months ago
Maria Soares
Maria Soares 2 months ago
Wait, you mean one of the worst maps ever invented in Overwatch for sniping?
jetairliner spartan
jetairliner spartan 3 months ago
what did the lady say? "i dont know what to tell you?"
Caffeinated Nation
Caffeinated Nation 3 months ago
Two issues with this: Y'all forgot to reference that 60's show, Route 66, with Martin Milner! Also, no "Life Is A Highway" in the background? Overall, very informative video. Road tripping Route 66 has been on my bucket list since I was 16. One day, one day...
Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips 3 months ago
Thought I got an iMessage at 10:40
Mehmetşah Sert
Mehmetşah Sert 3 months ago
I would like to see a the run style race through route 66 it can help the economy of roadside towns and motels and also can be fun
Jane A
Jane A 3 months ago
Oklahoma wants to rename a section of rt 66 to memorialize a president who won his seat by fear mongering, pushing racist and xenophobic wall and accepting help from a foreign power. Nice going Oklahoma... not. Why save it just to rename it after someone who fails at being a human?
OnTheBench 3 months ago
one of the very few good things we have in new mexico (,:
KCMC92 3 months ago
It seems to me that white middle class American Nostalgia is what keeps Route 66 alive
Sir Aragon of Enid
Sir Aragon of Enid 3 months ago
I was born in Tucumcari NM. Not my proudest moment.
furfie 4 months ago
wow look at vox being all wholesome :)))
Andaman Production
Andaman Production 4 months ago
I remember driving past that Texas steak place. Feels weird
Ernesto Jaime
Ernesto Jaime 4 months ago
ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!
Akhilesh Saravanan
Akhilesh Saravanan 4 months ago
Guys they made Route 66 from Cars into a real thing.
Matthias Lanzoni
Matthias Lanzoni 4 months ago
The pictures at 14:40 are so beautiful
Magpie Mailer
Magpie Mailer 4 months ago
I know the yellow house! It hosts a salon nowadays, in a corner of the parking lot of Safeway (the only grocer in Williams). Our family does a traditional trip to the Dairy Queen next door each time we camp up at Whitehorse Lake. I love Williams and I'm so glad to see such a tiny little landmark mentioned as a piece of someone's history
RedPat 4 months ago
Good narrative. 💥👍
welshdragon2008 4 months ago
ok.. fair enough
Oscar DeGus
Oscar DeGus 4 months ago
Creepy intro
Ante Žarko
Ante Žarko 4 months ago
The real reason why its popular. The time has come execute order 66
Rowan Karavangelos
Rowan Karavangelos 4 months ago
10:40 I really thought I got a text 😂
Agnes K.
Agnes K. 4 months ago
3:00 Uhh... How much in metric, please?
Jane Thomas
Jane Thomas 4 months ago
the fact that the movie cars was not mentioned in this video is a disgrace
martyisabeliever 4 months ago
Take note the Route 66 shield has 6 points on it Route 666.
Jim The EDC Guy
Jim The EDC Guy 4 months ago
Tell a bunch of hipsters no one goes there, then you'll see a sea of Volvos going down it.
Nelson Swanberg
Nelson Swanberg 4 months ago
Get your kicks on Route 66.
lea wink
lea wink 4 months ago
and PCH might be the 2nd famous? I guess....
SwiPia Sci
SwiPia Sci 4 months ago
I came here to hear about Pixar’s Cars Anyone else?
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