Two of our recent visitors came from two different countries, but had one common mission – to see the start of Route 66 in Chicago.
From their homes in Germany and France, they heard about the famous route and needed to track down its start – right here in the midwest.
So, thanks to them, I now know where it can be found – right in Chicago’s busy downtown Loop neighborhood. Plus, I learned more than one sign marks the start - and Route 66 actually ends in Chicago, too!
Spotting the signs that mark the start of Route 66 in Chicago
Along a bustling stretch of Adams Street – just west of the Art Institute of Chicago – lies an unassuming Route 66 sign. Signaling the start of the famous road, it blends with other Chicago street signs, worn by age, weather and more.
Butt, ccording to Historic66.com, Route 66 never started there. In fact, the original start was just a few block over on Jackson Blvd. at Michigan Ave.
Today, Jackson Street is a one-way, eastbound street. So, the westward way to California takes you down Adams Street instead.
Today, you can see two signs that mark the start of Route 66 - the one on westbound Adams St. and the one on eastbound Jackson Blvd.
Route 66 ends in Chicago, too.
While Route 66 starts in Chicago, and most people travel on it from east to west, it ends here, too. Right at Grant Park.
As noted by Route 66 Road Trip, traveling Route 66 in the opposite direction from Los Angeles to Chicago is actually “historically wrong.” Regardless, you can still see its ending point in the Windy City – even if it’s the direction less traveled.
You can find the sign that marks the end of Route 66 at the intersection of Jackson Blvd. and Michigan Ave. - not far from its original start.
The significance of Route 66
Originally commissioned in 1926, Route 66 opened for travelers in 1928.
Route 66 connected the Midwest to the West Coast, taking travelers from Chicago to Los Angeles - past motels, diners and other businesses all ready to welcome travel-weary people.
As noted by Route 66 Road Trip, Route 66 is an “essential icon of America,” representing freedom, the western migration and the loneliness of the American heartland. It plays a starring role in John Steinbeck’s Grape of Wrath, and it's forever tied to the phrase “get your kicks on Route 66” - thanks to Bobby Troup’s famous song.
In the 1980s, Route 66 was decommissioned and routed around by newer interstate highways – the impact of which is depicted in Disney’s 2006 Cars movie.
Even today, while Route 66 no longer exists, its mystic and significance still remains – both for people in the U.S. and across the globe.
Have you been to the start and/or end of Route 66? Have you driven along the famous route? Share your experiences in the comments below.