US Route 66 was formally approved by the American Association of State Highway officials to be extended from Los Angeles to Santa Monica in June 1935. At the time US Route 66 had an interim terminus at US Route 101 Alternate located at the end of Santa Monica Boulevard at Ocean Avenue. In 1936 the more recognizable terminus of US Route 66 in Santa Monica at Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard was established upon the opening of the McClure Tunnel.
Before being officially extended in 1935, the city of Santa Monica did about everything it possibly could to get US Route 66 extended into its boundaries. These attempts went as far as paying the Auto Club of Southern California to sign US Route 66 through Los Angeles all the way to Ocean Avenue via Santa Monica Boulevard from December 1930-January 1931. The rogue signage of US Roure 66 into Santa Monica is one of the most bizarre stories in the history US Route system and an example of how a city not taking "no" for an answer actually paid off.
Featured as the blog cover is an article headline from the January 27th, 1931, Santa Monica Outlook which announced US Route 66 had been signed through Santa Monica. Below the western terminus of US Route 66 can be seen relocated to Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard on the 1936-37 Division of Highways Map.
Part 1; the history of the western terminus of US Route 66 in Santa Monica
FHWA.dot.gov National Old Trails Road
From San Bernardino beginning at Mount Vernon Avenue/4th Street, the NOTR followed existing LRN 9 westbound to Pasadena. Upon reaching Pasadena the NOTR branched away from LRN 9. The NOTR westbound jogged south on Santa Anita Avenue to Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and departed towards Los Angeles via Fair Oaks Avenue. The NOTR followed Fair Oaks Avenue, Huntington Drive, and Broadway into downtown Los Angeles where it terminated at the intersection of 7th Street and Broadway. The early NOTR can be seen on the 1916 National Old Trails Road map developed by the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC).
According to the California Historic Route 66 Association pre-1932 ACSC records indicate that the routing of early US 66 was concurrent with that of the NOTR between Pasadena and Los Angeles. In that sense, it would be fair to say that 7th Street and Broadway as the original terminus of US 66 was simply an overlay of NOTR. It is unclear if the ACSC ever replaced NOTR signage with US 66 to 7th Street and Broadway, but the Los Angeles City Council minutes suggest they did not (see below for February 5th, 1930).
1933 was a landmark year in terms of Statewide transportation. The State Legislature removed restrictions that prevented State Funds from being used to maintain urban roadways. This change by the Legislature led to the addition of numerous urban highways.
California Highways Highway Chronology Chapter 3; A Significant System is Created 1933-1946
One of the 1933 additions to the State Highway system was Legislative Route Number 165 (LRN 165) which was routed from San Pedro to La Canada via Figueroa Street. The addition of LRN 165 made the three completed Figueroa Street Tunnels part of the State Highway system and led to the construction of the fourth southernmost tunnel. Figueroa Street once completed between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles would serve as a much more direct corridor with more traffic capacity than earlier NOTR.
CAhighways.org on LRN 165
Another 1933 addition to the State Highway System was what had been signed as US 66 on Santa Monica Boulevard as part of LRN 162. The original definition of LRN 162 was "LRN 60 at Santa Monica to Colorado Boulevard near Eagle Rock." LRN 162 can be seen for the first time on the 1934 Division of Highways Map. LRN 162 can be seen ending at the interim alignment of LRN 60 at Santa Monica Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard.
Amusingly the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce had already announced the formal extension of US 66 which can be seen in the July 2nd, 1935, Santa Monica Outlook. The article stub notes US 66 was to be extended back to Ocean Avenue via Santa Monica Boulevard to an interim terminus. The article notes the change of CA 3 on Roosevelt Highway to US 101A as being critical in making the extension of US 66 to Santa Monica Official.
An update to the progress of the now so-called Santa Monica Tunnel appears in the November 1935 California Highways & Public Works. The Santa Monica Tunnel is noted to be a component of the new alignment of US 101A /LRN 60 between Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard. The Santa Monica Tunnel is noted to be 80% complete as of November 4th, 1936.
- Mike Roberson