The 2,400-mile highway runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Soaring automobile sales prompted the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 which called for the networking of roads across the country. In response, Cyrus Avery, an Oklahoma state highway official, and John Woodruff, a Missouri entrepreneur, mapped Route 66 based on existing Native Americans trails. Formally established in 1926, Route 66 was the shortest, year-round stretch between the Midwest and the West Coast. The explosion of car culture post World War II helped make Route 66 a destination for travelers, giving rise to hundreds of diners, motor courts, and service stations all catering to passers through.
In 1956, legislation created the Interstate System, and over the course of three decades, newly constructed interstates bypassed segment after segment of Route 66. In 1985, Route 66 was officially decommissioned. While the route is now fragmented, the Mother Road has been restored in Illinois, New Mexico, and Arizona as part of the National Scenic Byways program.