When I was about 12 years old my brother-in-law gave me a Rand McNally Road Atlas. I had already been collecting maps for some time, so having an atlas with a map of every state in the US was a dream come true. I pored over every state, plotting out extended road trips.
One road that especially caught my attention was US 1. First, there was its primacy in the numerical highway system. It must be important if it’s number 1. Then, there was the route. It runs all the way from Key West, Florida, to the northernmost point in Fort Kent, Maine. And finally, there were all of the interesting cities that it connected – places I’d never been, such as Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. It seemed like the perfect highway to me.
Recently I’ve had the occasion to drive different segments of US 1 – in Columbia last week, in Florida two weeks ago, and in Maine over this past summer. The recent jaunts on this highway rekindled my interest, so I started exploring the route in Google Earth, and trying to find out what I could about its history.