We wandered a few blocks south on Michigan Avenue after leaving the Travel Blogger Exchange conference late last month and found something of special interest to travelers a few blocks away from our conference venue at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The intersection of Adams and Michigan in downtown Chicago may look like an ordinary city streetscape to many folks, but look a little more closely.
Yes, this is marked as the official starting point of one of this country’s most storied highways—and one that captured the imaginations of travelers over the years yearning to head west to wend their way to California.
Bobby Troup gave voice to the optimism and the urge to live their dreams many travelers felt during the highway’s heyday with his song, “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66”. Nat King Cole first recorded Troup’s song in 1946. An eclectic collection of musicians throughout the years that included the Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, Buckwheat Zydeco and Natalie Cole covered the song as well.
My own fascination with Route 66 began when my mom became a regular viewer of the 1960s show of the same name, which starred Martin Milner and George Maharis as two drifters traveling the road in a sporty Corvette. The show filmed in 40 different states during its 1960-64 run and portrayed its starring duo as socially conscious and exploring the quickly changing times as they searched for their place in the world (it was the 1960s, remember?).
I was too young to really grasp the social issues raised in the show, but I certainly remember that spiffy car and catchy theme song!
The highway became roadkill as high-speed expressways bypassed and supplanted highways like Route 66, which originated in the 1920s and ran for 2,400 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles.
The route originally began at Michigan Ave. on Jackson Blvd., the now eastbound street just south of Adams. The 1933 world’s fair in Chicago forced the highway’s starting point to move a bit east to Jackson and Lake Shore Dr. Route 66 never officially started on Adams, but today the westbound street bears the designation as official starting point to Historic Route 66.
Details, details! I just enjoyed reliving a bit of the sense of romance for the road and great memories that the sign evoked for me.
© Dominique King 2009 All rights reserved