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Santa Monica Pier to be anointed as Route 66 terminus

November 10, 2009 |  6:00 am
Although Route 66 -- the Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway that John Steinbeck labeled the "Mother Road" -- never fully extended to the beach in Santa Monica, civic boosters aren't letting that fact spoil a good celebration.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, when the nation marks the 83rd anniversary of the numbered highway system, locals will designate the Santa Monica Pier as the historic road's official western tip.

To commemorate the event, Santa Monica tourism officials and representatives of Route 66 organizations will unveil a replica of the "End of the Trail" sign, with 66 vintage cars and motorbikes providing the noise.

The highway's original end point in 1926 was at 7th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, according to Glen Duncan, president of the California Route 66 Preservation Foundation. A decade later, the road was extended to Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica.

But the beach, Duncan said, "was the major tourist attraction" for travelers on what Will Rogers called "America's Main Street." 

Duncan said he supports the notion of the pier as the "spiritual end of Route 66." But calling it the "official terminus," he said, "confuses people about what is historic and what isn't."

-- Martha Groves