Route 66 is easily America’s most iconic highway system but on this day in 1985, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials officially voted to decertify the road and remove all the highway signs.
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Route 66 was nicknamed the “Main Street of America” and served as an iconic landmark in the country for years; it has spawned countless songs, movies, stories, and more.
The original route stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, clocking in 2,200 miles that passed through eight states. An old New York Times article about the decertification claimed that Route 66 was forged by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale in 1857 after he forged through the wilderness with a herd of camels. It later became a significant point of interest for anyone completing a migration to the promising land of the West.
The highway officially earned its name in 1926 and linked rural communities to cities, serving as a great basis for the expectations of future highway systems; it could have been seen as a lifeline that provided much-needed goods to underserved communities. It became a well-known lane for cross-country travel.
Unfortunately, it was Route 66's massive popularity that led to its downfall. People flocked to the road as a tourist destination, but with only two lanes, there was only so much traffic it could handle. Then, with the introduction of the federal interstate system, more and more highways were cutting into Route 66. It made sense to decommission it, though even today 85 percent of the road remains driveable for anyone looking to traverse a bit of Americana.