State of Illinois

Office of Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    Monday, September 13, 2004



(504 words)

Dear Editor,

Route 66 has been a part of our cultural heritage since the early 20th century when the 2,448-mile road threaded together eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles. As the face of America was changing, this stretch of road provided a sweeping movement of people in our country’s history -- inspiring the all-American classic song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

Route 66 offered anyone with a car an opportunity to travel westward. This large-scale shift gave rural towns in Illinois a chance to thrive in a time of unprecedented social, economic, political and global conflicts. The boom days of the 400-mile stretch -- from Chicago to Collinsville -- boosted local economies as motorists stopped and purchased goods and services. Author John Steinbeck called Route 66 the “Mother Road” that binds us together.

Known as “America’s Main Street,” Illinois Route 66 has provided travelers and tourists alike a unique view of Illinois’ natural and well-preserved landscape. A two-to-three day trip will give anyone enough time to enjoy the economic, social and cultural attributes along the way. Groups such as the Illinois Route 66 Association, Route 66 Preservation Committee, Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project and others have been working hard to save what remains of Route 66 and promote awareness of this gem.

As more motorists and tourists today rediscover the historic route, they also have a unique opportunity to travel through America’s Main Street communities. The National Main Street Program is designed to improve all aspects of the downtown or central business district. Improving economic management, strengthening public participation, and making downtown a fun place to visit are as critical to Main Street’s future as recruiting new businesses, rehabilitating buildings, and expanding parking.

These Main Street towns survived the advent of the Interstate highway -- which made Route 66 obsolete -- and now serve as a reminder of our state’s cultural legacy, as well as providing both a heritage and historic-based tourism vehicle for those Illinois Main Street communities aligned on Route 66.

To help increase “nostalgia-based tourism” in Illinois and promote Illinois’ cultural and historic heritage, I will be joined by a convoy of vintage cars starting at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain on Friday, September 24, to drive Route 66 through designated Illinois Main Street communities of Plainfield, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington, Lincoln and cap the 198-mile adventure in Springfield at the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival -- Route 66 City Nights Parade.

Help us celebrate Route 66! Bring your vintage cruisers and embark on a one-day road trip down historic Route 66. Each town we visit offers its own unique history where we will be charmed with vintage gas stations, old farm vehicles, giant fiberglass statues and classic American architecture. Route 66 and Main Street towns capture the grassroots spirit of Americans.

To join our “cruiser convoy” or meet at any of the designated stops, call the Lieutenant Governor’s office at 217-782-5990 and ask how to Get Your Kicks on Route 66.





Pat Quinn

Illinois Lieutenant Governor