Thousands of people heading to California in the early 1930s passed through Water Street in Santa Fe. The famed route of hope began in Chicago in 1926 and ended in Santa Monica. Route 66 passed through eight states and three time zones on the 2,448 mile roadway. As the state capitol, Santa Fe provided the weary road warriors with a glimpse of the high dessert city. For the next eleven years the struggling families in search of work in the fields of California made a brief stop in Santa Fe.
New Mexico’s Silver Lining
For all of the human suffering found along the Historic Route 66 the Mother Road provided a silver lining for New Mexico. The historic route passed on Water street in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The original Route 66 connected with the Old Santa Fe and the Pecos Trial. Cars were led right into the Santa Fe plaza. It was on this road that people experienced the food, language, music, art, and architecture of Santa Fe as they traveled west.
Change in 1937
Route 66 bypassed Santa Fe for the city of Santa Rosa in 1937. The new route provided a direct link through Albuquerque. Some of the New Mexico cities along Route 66 included: Santa Fe, Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Clines Corners, Albuquerque and Gallup. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. New construction began for 42,500-miles of an interstate highway system across the United States. That law ultimately led to construction of the interstates that largely replaced U.S. 66 and eventually led to the decline and abandonment of Route 66.