Route 66 History

Albuquerque grew up along Route 66. As you explore the historic Route 66 highway, you'll see the city in a whole new light — a neon light.

Route 66 History

Route 66 was first commissioned in 1926, picking up as many bits and pieces of existing road as possible. The first route alignment of 1926-1937 ran north-south through Albuquerque, part of a giant S-curve that connected Santa Rosa, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Lunas and several Native American reservations. This original section was 506 miles of mostly unpaved road. Albuquerque boosters began pushing for a straighter route, and in 1931, federal money was designated to realign the road to a more east-west direction.

By 1937, the entire route from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, was paved. The new road carried thousands of GIs longing for a better look at America and yearning to see what the country held in store for them. Route 66 was fixed in the memory of many by both John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath" and Bobby Troup's song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66," as well as CBS TV's "Route 66." Today I-40 runs over much of the original roadbed, but many parts of the old highway can be seen today just beside I-40.

Route 66 Map & Information

Visit the Route 66 Tour page for more information on what to see and do along the Mother Road. You will also find a Route 66 map, which will guide you through areas such as the University District, home of the University of New Mexico. Further east in Nob Hill, vintage neon signs glow alongside new neon signs, as shops and restaurants have kept up the authentic look of old Route 66. With a focus on shopping, dining and architecture, this tour serves as an excellent introduction to the city.

Just off Route 66, you'll find the ABQ BioParkTingley Beach, the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & ScienceExplora and Old Town. Walking or driving along Central Avenue in the downtown area, you'll enjoy the majesty of this vibrant district. Step into the Pueblo-Deco KiMo Theatre to admire the stunning architecture. Stop for a bite at one of the revitalized diners and other restaurants that line the route. Route 66 is a treat for all ages.