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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 People on the Move The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 Americans Adopt the Auto Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction The People's Highway Cyrus Avery: 'The most direct road to the Pacific coast' Lucille Hamons: 'I was alone here to run this place.' The Haggard family: 'Headed west toward California' Caroline Millbank, Janet McDonnel, Ethel May Krockenberger, and Mary Jane Pecora: 'Our rest stops were lots of fun' Bobby and Cynthia Troup: 'Get your kicks on Route 66' The Delgadillo family: 'Playing with bands up and down Route 66' Pete Koltnow: 'Bumpy seats and the open road' Indian Trading Posts
10: The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s–1940s

Cyrus Avery: “The most direct road to the Pacific coast”

Cyrus Avery, a businessman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is credited with creating the identity of Route 66. Avery saw the need for better roads through his state, and as chairman of the state highway commission, he helped plan the national system of numbered highways. His proposal for a highway from Chicago to Los Angeles along a southwestern route was approved and designated U.S. 66 in 1926. Avery founded the U.S. 66 Highway Association and coined the route’s nickname, “Main Street of America.”

Commemorative plaque presented to Cyrus Avery, 1930
Commemorative plaque presented to Cyrus Avery, 1930

“Like the pioneer days, when they outfitted at St. Louis for all points in the West and Southwest, so today people traveling by auto . find themselves coming to St. Louis over the various U.S. roads, and when arriving in St. Louis, by consulting their map, find U.S. 66 is the most direct road to the Pacific coast and likewise to all points in the great Southwest.

“I challenge anyone to show a road of equal length that traverses more scenery, more agricultural wealth, and more mineral wealth than does U.S. 66.”

—Cyrus Avery

Highway advocate Cyrus Avery in a car with others
Highway advocate Cyrus Avery in a car with others
Cyrus Avery (third from left) supported the proposed Ozark Trail highway through Springfield, Missouri; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Amarillo, Texas, in 1916. Ten years later, he established U.S. 66 along the same route.
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