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Route 66: Mythical Crossing

On the most famous road in the USA

1. Introduction

By the early 20th century, a road would become the backbone of a nation, embodying the promise of a better future, the pure American dream. Dubbed Route 66, this iconic thoroughfare of American culture winds through the heart of the United States, connecting Chicago to Santa Monica on an epic course of more than two thousand miles.
Let's summon the imagination of a golden Hollywood. Remember those period movies, where entire families boarded their gleaming cars, the radio spewing catchy melodies, ready to conquer the west. They were drawn to the promise of new life, endless adventures, and those neon signs that twinkled on the horizon, promising rest after a long day's drive. Artists such as Nat King Cole have immortalized this road in the song, urging listeners to "take their foot off Route 66."
But this road wasn't just a gateway for those looking for adventure or a better life. It was a reflection of a changing America, a nation in full expansion that saw in this road a symbol of unity and progress. Immortalized as the "Mother Road" by John Steinbeck, it offers a condensation of deep America. Each stop, each turn tells a story, whether it is that of an immigrant seeking his fortune, an artist in search of inspiration, or an entrepreneur hoping to prosper thanks to the manna of tourists who swept along the road.
So, dear readers, let me invite you on a journey through the history, major attractions and cultural significance of this mythical route. Embark with me in a vintage Cadillac, feel the wind in your hair and the nostalgic melody of the golden era of Hollywood in the background. The crossing starts here. Get ready to discover the buried secrets of this legendary Route 66.

2. History of Route 66:

The beginnings and creation of Route 66:
Route 66, the artery that stretches majestically through the vast and varied landscapes of the United States, has its roots in the American desire to connect the country from east to west. Established in 1926, it was the first paved transcontinental highway in the United States. Its iconic layout offered a mosaic of striking postcards, from gigantic cities to vast expanses of desert, coniferous forests and large lakes.
His budding romanticism had an almost palpable energy that attracted travelers from all over the country and around the world. It has become the preferred way to discover typical American scenes, whether old neon signs, charming roadhouses or fragments of kitsch Americana. It represented a dream, an adventure, an escape.

Its evolution over time, from its creation to its worldwide fame: Over time, Route 66 has transcended its original role as a transportation route to become an American cultural icon. Millions of drivers, artists, and adventurers have walked its route, captivated by its raw beauty and promise of exploration. The America of the 50s and 60s, with its bubbling energy and aspirations for progress, saw in this road a symbol of unity and adventure.
But, as Hollywood cinema often shows us, every beautiful story has its dark side. Gradually, starting in 1985, Route 66 began to die out, abandoned in favor of new highways. Its small stalls, iconic motels, and gas stations began to close, one by one, plunging this legendary road into oblivion. Entire towns along the road have turned into veritable ghost towns, reminiscent of scenes from old Hollywood movies where time seems to have stopped.
Yet even in its decline, Route 66 has retained a place in the hearts of travel lovers. His worldwide fame has persisted, fueled by artwork, films and songs. Iconic figures like John Steinbeck have immortalized it in literature, and Hollywood cinema has often celebrated its essence.
There are roads that are simple traffic lanes and then there is Route 66, the one that transcends the notion of route to become a living myth. A memorable hymn to American greatness, which still resonates in the hearts of all who have walked through it.
The echo of R&B music permeates the journey, alluding to this historic route. The song recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946, "Route 66", immortalized this highway, reminding travelers that they could find pleasure, get their thrills, on this journey. A melody reminiscent of the simple pleasures of life on the road, from the sparkling of neon signs to the curiosity of small roadside shops.
But why is Route 66 so iconic? This is largely due to its nickname, the "Mother Road", a term popularized by the great writer John Steinbeck in his masterful work " The Grapes of Wrath". For many Americans, this road was more than just a route; It was a symbol of hope, renewal and adventure. During the Great Depression, thousands of families took this route, hoping to find a better future in California.
Route 66 and Hollywood also had a special relationship. The magic of cinema has often taken this route, capturing its aura in countless films, telling stories of American travels, adventures and dreams. That's how movies like "Easy Rider" and TV series like "Route 66" have brought this mythical road into living rooms around the world, immortalizing it as the epitome of the American dream.
Route 66 is not just a road. It reflects the dreams, hopes and perseverance of several generations. It is a backdrop for the stories that have shaped America and continues to capture the imagination of those who aspire to travel through it.

3. Attractions and Emblematic Sites:

The must-see places along Route 66.
Ah, Route 66, that breadcrumb trail that winds through the heart of America, silent witness of its evolution through time. This route, both cinematographic and geographical, represents a pilgrimage for many travelers, in search of the authentic soul of the country.
Start your trip in Chicago, not only because it's the traditional starting point, but also to soak up the city's live music, museums, and architectural wonders. The skyscrapers along the Chicago River tell a story of innovation, with buildings like the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building and the Willis (Sears) Tower testifying to the audacity of human vision.
Route 66 itself is a kaleidoscope of American scenery: quaint cafes, historic motels like the Wigwam Motel and Blue Swallow Motel, and trading posts like the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. Not to mention Arizona's natural wonders, like the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park, and Barringer Crater.
It would be unfair not to mention the indelible mark that Hollywood has left on this mythical road. Think of movies like Easy Rider, shot in part on Route 66, which captured the rebellious spirit and thirst for freedom of an entire generation.
Crossing Route 66, one can't help but feel the weight of literature, cinema and the songs that celebrated it, such as "Get your kicks on Route 66", sung by countless artists and immortalized in many movies and books.
Route 66 is not just a road; It is a journey through time, an ode to adventure, and a testament to American perseverance and innovation. This is the American dream incarnate.

Anna Matuschek's description of her travels on Route 66 and her favorite segment in Arizona.
Anna Matuschek had always been fascinated by Route 66, this historic and mythical artery crossing America from east to west. She recounted, with a pen full of poetry and nostalgia, her many travels along this legendary path. His favorite segment? The one in Arizona.
According to Matuschek, Arizona represented an exceptional chapter in the novel that is Route 66. This is where the landscape takes on a cinematic dimension, where each turn evokes a scene from a classic Hollywood movie. She often evoked the feeling of being both an actress and a spectator of her own epic. In this setting, where the blazing sun gives a golden color to the vast desert expanses, Anna felt like a movie star, rolling towards a horizon filled with adventures.
It is no coincidence that so many directors have chosen these sets for their films. Arizona, with its red canyons, endless plains and ghost towns, evokes a wild and free America, an America that perhaps exists only in our dreams and on the big screen. Anna fondly remembered a night spent in Oatman, a former mining town that has become an attraction for travelers. She told how wild donkeys came to walk the main streets, recalling the rich history of this place. And how, in an old open-air cinema, she had watched a classic movie, under a starry sky, feeling the essence of what it means to travel on Route 66.
Anna Matuschek often concluded her stories by saying that Route 66 is not just a road, it is a journey back in time, a dive into the history of cinema and a rite of passage for those who dare to travel it. Arizona, with its panoramas worthy of a Hollywood movie, is the quintessence.

The legendary stages of a fabulous journey on Route 66.
Crossing Route 66 is like going back in time and diving into the heart of the American soul. The road, stretching more than 2,400 miles, winds through eight states, from Chicago to Los Angeles, telling stories of hope, adventure and freedom at every turn.
One of the first iconic stops is the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois. This 30-foot giant, witness of the 60s, stands as a silent guardian, reminiscent of a time when fiberglass icons were advertising bait for motorists. Further afield, Springfield, Illinois, invites travelers to learn about the experiences of Black travelers on Route 66 at Route History, a sanctuary dedicated to the history, tragedy, and resilience of these travelers.
In St. Louis, Missouri, the towering 630-foot Arc Gateway stands majestically, offering panoramic views to those who dare to climb to its summit. It is a reminder of human ingenuity and our constant desire to reach new heights.
But the real stars of Route 66 are the many quirky attractions that dot its route. From sights like the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, a birthday present turned icon, to historic gas stations like the Ambler Texaco Gas Station in Dwight, Illinois, which served travelers for sixty-six years, every stop is a chapter in American history.
And, speaking of cinema, Hollywood has long been fascinated by this mythical road. From movie classics to modern series, many filmmakers have immortalized Route 66 in film, capturing its essence and timeless charm. She is, after all, "The Mother Road," a symbol of American freedom and endless possibilities.

4. Cultural Impact and Revitalization

The cultural significance of Route 66 and how it became a symbol of adventure and the search for a better life.
Route 66, once dubbed "America's Main Street," is not just a simple paved route. It is the ribbon on which the stories of thousands of souls were written, a breadcrumb trail that traced the contours of the American dream. More than an itinerary, it is the reflection of an era, a living fresco of the American odyssey.
From Steinbeck, who immortalized it by naming it "The Mother Road" in "The Grapes of Wrath," to Kerouac and its dreamlike journeys, Route 66 has often been the scene of iconic stories. It has become a symbol of freedom, of the search for a better life, far from the chains of the great depression and daily routine. Crossing Route 66 was like embarking on an adventure where every turn offered a new opportunity, a new hope.
Over the years, its meaning has metamorphosed. She has gone from a vital artery for migrants seeking a better life in California, to a cultural icon, immortalized in music, literature, and film. Who could forget the catchy melody of "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" or where it fits into rock 'n' roll mythology?
However, with the emergence of modern highways and the evolution of transportation, Route 66 was almost forgotten, relegated to the rank of memory. But, like a Phoenix, it rises from the ashes thanks to enthusiasts and nostalgic people who have recognized its inestimable value. Today, a revitalization is taking place, where efforts are made to restore its iconic sites and preserve its legacy, so that future generations can also discover the magic of this legendary road.

The decline of Route 66 in the 1980s and its current renaissance.
Route 66, that beating vein running through the American heart, has witnessed the golden chapters and twilight shadows of history. But every great epic goes into decline, and the Mother Road was no exception.
Beginning in the 1980s, the brilliance of Route 66 began to fade. With the rapid development of the Interstates, these modern and fast highways, Route 66 has lost its importance and its primary function of connecting East to West. It was even decommissioned in 1985, a blow to this highway that had once animated so many traveling souls. Rusty panels and deserted relays seemed to whisper the melodies of a glorious past.
But, just as the phoenix rises from the ashes, Route 66 has seen an astonishing resurgence. In recent years, a cultural renaissance has taken shape, driven by enthusiasts in love with this emblematic road. These individuals, with their memories, hopes and dreams, have seen beyond rust and decline. They saw an opportunity to revive an icon, a vital artery of American history.
Today, taking Route 66 is much more than just a trip between two oceans; It is a pilgrimage through time, a journey through the pages of a profoundly American history. It is a reflection of the eternal soul of the United States, a reminder that even in adversity, the indomitable spirit always finds its way home.

The tourist appeal of Route 66 and how it has been immortalized in popular culture, including literature, film and music.
Route 66, nicknamed the "Mother Road," is an icon that has established itself in the collective psyche, not only of Americans, but also of adventurers around the world. Over the years, this strip of asphalt has become a living legend, a hymn to freedom, adventure, and self-search. It has become much more than just a road: a cultural monument in itself.
Strolling along this ribbon of asphalt, you can hear the echo of Jakson Browne's catchy rhythms with "Take It Easy", an iconic song that brings back memories of a carefree and free time. In Winslow, Arizona, in front of the bronze statue of the musician, familiar melodies float in the air, reminding passers-by of the eternal power of music to capture and immortalize moments of fleeting happiness.
Similarly, Route 66 has been the muse of countless literary and cinematic works. John Steinbeck, in "The Grapes of Wrath," glorified this road as the "Mother Road," a path of freedom and hope for generations of travelers. The television series "Route 66" paid tribute to this historic path by depicting two young men traveling across America in a Chevrolet Corvette, symbol of a nation on the move and in perpetual self-discovery.
But it's not just music or literature that has found their muse in her. Route 66 is also reminiscent of drive-in movie theaters, shimmering neon diners, and motels with neon signs, embodying the golden age of post-World War II America. Artists, poets and writers have seen in it a vivid picture of the human condition, a representation of man's relentless quest for discovery and meaning.
Today, Route 66 is experiencing a resurgence, a renaissance. It is no longer simply a path, but a journey to the past, a sanctuary for nostalgic souls. And as thousands of wandering souls once again travel this mythical road, its spirit and legend continue to grow, proving that some things, despite the inexorable passage of time, never get old.
Because Route 66 is not just a path. It is a story, a dream, an epic through the soul of America. And every mile, every stone and every melody tells a chapter of this timeless saga.

5.La Route 66 in the American imagination:

America, with its overwhelming vastness and uncharted horizons, has always been a tale of wandering, discovery and adventure. And Route 66 is the perfect embodiment of that. It's not just a road — it's a journey back in time, an epic through the tumultuous pages of American history.
From its beginnings as one of the first motor vehicle highways, to its consecration as the ultimate pop cultural icon, Route 66 has seduced and fascinated. It was the scene of the exodus of farmers during the Great Depression, the dreams of rebellious beatniks and idealistic hippies, and even timeless songs that evoked its magic, such as the stainless musical myth it inspired in artists like Jakson Browne.
America's heartbeat is felt along this lane, and every mile traveled tells a story, conjuring up images of abandoned truck stops, faded neon signs, and old gas stations that seem to whisper echoes of the past. Route 66 is more than a route; It is a symbol of freedom, a beautiful escape into the unknown, a reminder that the journey is often more important than the destination.
And although modern highways have supplanted this legendary route, leaving behind the fragments of what was once the "Mother Road", the spirit of Route 66 remains unalterable. It continues to live in the collective imagination, reminding each of us of this deep aspiration to adventure, this insatiable desire to lose oneself in order to find oneself better.
Ultimately, Route 66 is not just a road. It is a journey through the beating heart of America, a dive into its soul, a hymn to wandering and discovery. It is the mirror of the indomitable spirit of America, a testament to this unquenchable thirst to go further, to seek, to dream and to hope. And even if it is no more, it remains engraved in the national memory, eternally recalling this golden era of discovery and innocence.


Ah, Route 66, that legendary route that crosses the deep lands of America, that ribbon of asphalt that has woven the dreams of so many travelers looking for adventure and a better life. A road that is not just a means of transportation, but rather a living witness to American history, a continuous melody of decades gone by.
It was once the first major paved transcontinental thoroughfare, facilitating trade across the continent. It has become much more than a road: a symbol of freedom, adventure and "coolness". But like all great stories, Route 66 has had its heyday and its moments of decline.
Images of small shops, motels and gas stations evoke a time when travel was as important as the destination. Yet these remnants of American folklore have seen their doors close one by one, transforming what was once a vibrant 4,000-kilometer carnival into a ghost town stretched over the same distance.
However, like the rebirth of the phoenix, Route 66 rose from the ashes, reviving its former greatness. Echoes of songs such as "Get your kicks on Route 66" resonate again, attracting music lovers and dreamers alike. Travelers from all over the world flock in, seeking to relive an America that was not yet an umbrella name.
If John Steinbeck immortalized it as the "Mother Road" in "The Grapes of Wrath", today it is the reflection of these traveling souls who seek to reconnect with the very essence of America.
To conclude, Route 66 is not just a journey, it's a journey through time, a hymn to the spirit of adventure, and a reminder that even the greatest legends can rise from the ashes. She reminds everyone that on Route 66, anything is possible, every turn can hide a new adventure, every horizon a new promise. To take this road is to relive a mythical chapter of American history, it is to feel the dust, the laughter, the tears, and above all, the timeless magic of the great crossing.