Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
History & Timeline
History and Timeline
Established in 1926, Route 66 operated as the country's main east-west artery connecting Chicago and Los Angeles and everything in between with over 2,000 miles of continuously paved roadway. The cities and towns located along Route 66 reaped the benefits of the highway. Motels and diners sprang up to cater to travelers. Gas stations became the new icon for America's increasingly mobile society.
With the development of the nationwide interstate system, divided highways bypassed nearly all segments of Route 66 and in 1986, it was officially decommissioned. Though parts of the Route are no longer drivable, 85 percent of the highway is still in use by local and tourist traffic. As traffic moved to neighboring interstates, communities along Route 66 experienced economic and environmental hardships. With fewer travelers, many businesses closed, leaving behind neglected, abandoned properties.