Tuesday, July 14, 2020

US Route 1: Its History and Present.

August 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Opinion, Travel/Leisure, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) US Route 1 marked the beginning of the United States’ numbered highway system. Learn all about this historic road and how it’s used now.

Measuring in at 2,369 miles long, US Route 1 stretches from the northern border town of Fort Kent, Maine to the southern island city of Key West, Florida. Serving the east coast of the United States, it has existed since 1926.

But that isn’t all there is to know about US Route 1. America’s first highway has a ton of history on its side.

Looking to learn more about Route 1? You’re in the right place. Below, we’re going to cover it in detail, not only reviewing its history but discussing its present as well.

Let’s begin!

Precursors to US Route 1 

While it’s undoubtedly known as US Route 1 now, it wasn’t always so. Before US Route 1’s conception in 1926, the east coast was accommodated by another roadway: The Atlantic Highway.

The Atlantic Highway essentially was Route 1, only it was a little longer, contained slightly different roadways, and assumed a different name. Whereas Route 1 stretches from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida, the Atlantic Highway stretched from Quebec, Canada to Miami, Florida.

The big change started in 1922 when New England began to regulate its road marking system. The region deemed its portion of the Atlantic Highway to be Route 1. This move would spur other regions to label their portions of the highway with the same name, eventually resulting in a 2,369-mile stretch of road known as, of course, US Route 1.

The Conception 

The formation of Route 1 occurred over a few years, with portions of the old Atlantic Highway being connected to stretches of other highways. These connections would force portions of the highway more inland than they had previously been, improving efficiency and connectivity.

The Joint Board on Interstate Highways commanded many of these changes and was also responsible for the name US Route 1.

Which States Does Route 1 Run Through?  

Route 1 runs through the entire east coast of the United States, hitting every Atlantic state along the way. In doing so, it connects the southernmost areas of the country with the northernmost areas of the country.

Below, we’re going to get into the specifics of each state’s relationship with US Route 1, helping you to understand how it was shaped and formed over time as well as its impact on the country at large.


Starting in Key West, US Route 1 runs over the Atlantic Ocean (by way of the Overseas Highway) and hits essentially every eastern coastal town in the state of Florida. These include but are not limited to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, and Jacksonville.

From there, it runs up into Georgia, traveling primarily through marshes and old plantations. Unlike in many of the other states in which it exists, in Georgia, Route 1 travels fairly far away from the ocean. Some of the towns it hits include Waycross, Lyons, and Augusta.

Next, Route 1 hits South Carolina. As in Georgia, it serves primarily rural areas, staying a fair distance away from the coast. Towns and cities it runs through in South Carolina include Columbia, Bethune, and Cheraw.

In North Carolina, Route 1 continues its rural path, though it also travels through the cities of Rockingham and Raleigh. A portion of Route 1 exists on the Jefferson Davis Highway.

Mid-Atlantic Region 

From North Carolina, Route 1 runs up into Virginia, hitting everywhere from Richmond to Arlington to Fredericksburg and more. While going through Richmond, it crosses the Potomac River.

Next, it travels up to Maryland, running through the Baltimore-Washington Corridor as well as the University of Maryland campus in College Park. Portions of it also run along I-95.

Route 1 then shortly runs through Delaware, hitting the city of Wilmington, and running over the Susquehanna River.

Next, Route 1 enters Pennsylvania, traveling along the John H. Ware III Memorial Highway just west of Philadelphia. Along the way, it travels upon the Schuykill Expressway as well as the Roosevelt Expressway. From there, it crosses the Delaware River, running into the state of New Jersey.

In New Jersey, Route 1 runs through Trenton, New Brunswick, Jersey City, Newark, and a variety of other cities. Along the way, it travels along the Pulaski Skyway and the Tonnele Circle.

New England 

Once Route 1 has left New Jersey, it makes its way into New England, running through five of its states. As LTL Freight Shipping can tell you, Route 1 is a hugely important transportation route throughout the New England area.

In Connecticut, it runs parallel to I-95, a major highway which too runs along the entirety of the Atlantic coast. One of the major attractions that it passes is the Long Island Sound, a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rhode Island’s stretch of Route 1 consists of both 4-lane highway and commercial road. It runs through Westerly, Wakefield, Providence, Pawtucket, and Warwick. It also runs alongside the Narrangansett Bay.

From Rhode Island, it moves up through Massachusetts, eventually running through downtown Boston. It leaves Boston by way of the Tobin Bridge and the Northeast Expressway. Then it travels up to Newburyport, running from there up to New Hampshire.

In New Hampshire, Route 1 runs through the towns of Hampton, Rye, and Portsmouth, eventually emptying into Maine by way of the Memorial Bridge. Much of New Hampshire’s stretch is positioned on Lafayette Road.

Throughout Maine, Route 1 runs along the coast, traveling through Portland, Brunswick, and Calais. Dubbed the “Coastal Route” by Mainers, it eventually ends in the town of Fort Kent.

Looking for More Historical Facts?

Now that you know a little bit about the history of US Route 1, you might be looking for some more historical facts. If so, Thy Black Man has you covered.

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Staff Writer; Brad Jackson

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