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Property Name: Route 66 (U.S. Route 66)

Property Location: Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MO

Project Client: Illinois Department of Transportation

Statement of Significance: Designated in 1926, U.S. Route 66 is significant as the first national highway connecting the Midwest and the West Coast. "The Main Street of America," which passed through a multitude of towns throughout eight states, began at Lake Michigan in Chicago and terminated at the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, covering over 2,400 miles.

The increasing popularity of the automobile in early twentieth-century America created Route 66; and in turn, "66" facilitated the automobile culture as businesses developed to meet the needs of the highway’s travelers. Enterprises such as service stations, motor courts, cafes and drive-in restaurants facilitated long trips. For a traveling society, U.S. Route 66 was both a practical transport corridor and a vista for adventure.

The former Standard Oil Station on Route 66, Odell, Illinois.

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Historic Resource Survey: Over four hundred structures that fell into one of three categories were surveyed along Route 66 in Illinois. Specifically noted were the following resources: 1) those that were part of Route 66 itself (i.e. bridges and selected segments of the old highway itself); 2) those that were associated with Route 66 (i.e. motels, gas stations, garages, cafes, auto dealers, etc.); and 3) those that helped to compliment the Route 66 driving experience (i.e. prominent farmhouses). An extensive historical context was also developed. At the conclusion of the project, a Determination of Eligibility for the National Register was prepared for four segments of Route 66 in Illinois.

Project Date: 1994-1997