Looking for America on US Route 1
IT BEGAN in 1636 as a blazed footpath between America’s earliest settlements.
It passes through all 13 original colonies, and through or nearby nearly every Revolutionary battlefield.
George Washington slept here. Under Benjamin Franklin, it served as the backbone of the nation’s first postal service.
Long before they gave it a number, its evocative names spoke of its importance, purpose and history: Pequot Path, King’s Highway, Boston Post Road, ‘Old Bloody.’
The railroads nearly rendered it irrelevant; the bicycle, automobile and motor truck brought it back to life.
Formalized in 1925 with the creation of the U.S. numbered highway system, Route 1 connected, like an electrical circuit, 14 states and the nation’s capital, creating an engine of commerce and tourism and a national strategic asset.
It came to be known as the most important route in the country – and also ‘the ugliest road in America.’
With the construction of the Interstate system in the 1950s, U.S. 1 once again lost much of its influence and importance, becoming one more blue highway to a nation in a hurry. But along its route, for those who can be bothered, lies a country of character and curiosity – that which makes us Americans, and makes a journey worthwhile.
Route 1 also passed through my home town in Connecticut, and 50 years ago I made a quiet promise to explore all 2,446 miles of it. Come join me on the ride.
To begin reading, please go to the first chapter, ‘Mile Zero,’ here.
© Bruce J. MacDonald, 2019.