Historic Route 66 crosses through 8 states in total including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It begins in Chicago, Illinois and ends at the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California after covering a total of 2,448 miles or 3,940 kilometers. Often referred to as Will Rogers Highway and also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, the highway was finished on November 11th, 1926 with its road signs posted the following year. Route 66 served as a major roadway for those who migrated west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it enhanced the economies of the towns through which it passed. Businesses along the route gained prosperity due to the growing popularity of the highway, and it was these same people that later mounted efforts to keep the highway functioning in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System, but it was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27th, 1985.
The first Route 66 Associations were founded in Arizona in 1987 and Missouri in 1989 with more groups in the other Route 66 states soon following. In 1990, the state of Missouri declared Route 66 in their state a State Historic Route. The first Historic Route 66 marker in Missouri was erected on Kearney Street at Glenstone Avenue in Springfield, Missouri. Other historic markers now line, although at times sporadically, the entire 2,448 mile or 3,940 kilometer length of road. In many communities, local groups have painted or stencilled the “66” and U.S. Route shield directly onto the road surface, along with their state name. This often became common in the areas where conventional signage for Historic Route 66 became a target of repeated theft by souvenir hunters. Various sections of the road itself have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Arroyo Seco Parkway in the Los Angeles Area and Route 66 in New Mexico have been made into National Scenic Byways. Many of these state preservation groups have tried to save and even landmark the old cafes, gas stations, motels and even neon signs along the road. In 1999, President Bill Clinton signed a National Route 66 Preservation Bill which provided for $10 million in matching fund grants for the preservation and restoration of the historic features along the highway.