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Santa Monica

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Santa Monica, California

Where Route 66 meets the Ocean

Santa Monica in California, is where Route 66 reaches the Ocean, it is the The Western Terminus of Route 66, and is the site of the Santa Monica Pier, modern ending point, with its End of the Trail sign and the 1941 Santa Monica Pier Sign.
See its iconic oldies such as the Santa Monica Motel, the 1960s Wilshire service station, the Hotel California, the Dawn Motel - now Chez Jay and the former Penguin Coffee Shop with its penguin neon sign.

Santa Monica CA

 
"End of the Road"

 

About Santa Monica California

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 105 ft (32 m). Population 89,736 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).

Santa Monica, is the westernmost city on Route 66, and it is located on the Pacific Ocean's coast in western Los Angeles County in southern California. (Map of Santa Monica).

The "End of the Trail" sign on Santa Monica Pier

The end of the trail sign of Route 66 on the pier in Santa Monica
End of Route 66 sign on Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California,

The history of Santa Monica

The shores and hills near Santa Monica have been inhabited for over 10,000 years. During the period of European discovery (after 1542), the area was the home to the seafaring Chumash and the Tongva who lived in the hills. The Tongva name for this land was "Kecheek".

Portoá accompanied by father Crespi explored the area in 1769, naming it. Los Angeles (L.A.) was founded in 1781 and the land granted to settlers. The "Parage de Santa Mónica" was to become part of two ranches, "San Vicente" and "Santa Monica" owned by Reyes and Vázques respectively.

After its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico inherited California, but had to cede it to the U.S. after being defeated in the Mexican American War (1846-48).

By the 1860s, the people of Los Angeles frequented the beach at Santa Monica to enjoy swimming and dances. A wharf built there shipped tar from the La Brea tar pits.

Col. R. s. Baker established a sheep ranch there in 1872 and in 1874, with his parner Senator John P. Jones built a railroad from Los Angeles to the town they platted, and named Santa Monica; they started to build a mile-long pier, which they had to abandon after the city of Los Angeles chose the better port at San Pedro.

The Name, Santa Monica

The Spanish under Gaspar de Portola explored the area in 1769 and named it after Saint Agustin's mother, "Santa Mónica".

The town however survived and by 1885 the Santa Monica Hotel was built. The Pacific Electric Railroad linked the coast to L.A. and soon plenty of visitors came to the beaches. Piers were very popular in the early 1900s so the Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909.

Trivia: first flight around the world

The Douglas Aircraft Co. (later McDonnell Douglas, acquired by Boeing) owned by Donald W. Douglas, opened in 1922 in Clover Field (which is now Santa Monica Airport).

It was from here that four Douglas planes took off in 1924 on the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe.

In 1936, Route 66 was extended from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, ending there, on US 101 Alt.

The 1939 "Guide to the Golden State" written by the WPA described what is now West Hollywod as follows:

"Facing Santa Monica Bay from a high mesa is SANTA MONICA, ... (100 alt., 37,146 pop.), a residential-resort city with a substantial business center, whose summer visitors swell the population figure to more than 100,000. Along the edge of the bluffs for 3 miles stretches green, tree-shaded PALISADES PARK. The half-moon-shaped ocean front, city-owned since 1917, faces a yacht harbor and breakwater."

From 1920 to 1940, Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica had many auto dealerships and used car lots. Starting in 1956 the Interstate highway system was built, drawing traffic away from Route 66. This led to its decomissioning in 1964 as a U.S. Highway in this area.

Where to Lodge in Santa Monica

Lodging in Santa Monica

>> Book your Hotels in Santa Monica

More Lodging near Santa Monica along Route 66

Motels and Hotels close to Santa Monica, California

Heading East.... Hotels & Motels in California...

Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> Check out the RV campground near Santa Monica, in Pomona

Weather in Santa Monica

Santa Monica's climate is a Subtropical Mediterranean one, with cool ocean breezes.

Expect morning fog from May to early July ("June Gloom" and "May Gray") but it is gone by midday. Foggy days occur during late winter and early summer, with a cooling effect.

This causes a moderating effect on temperature swings compared to Los Angeles proper (5 to 10°F, 2-5 °C warmer in winter and cooler in summer).

The winter (Jan) average high is 67°F (19°C) with an average low of 46°F (8°C). During winter the hot dry Santa Ana winds blow.

Santa Monica has some 310 sunny days each year. The average high during summer (Jul) is 80°F (27°C); the summer average low is 62°F (17°C).

Expect rain from late Oct. to late March, the rest of the year is dry. Average rainfall is around 13 in. (333 mm). It does not snow or freeze in Santa Monica.

Route 66 and Santa Monica, CA
Location of Santa Monica on the Old Route 66

Tornado risk

Santa Monica is located on the Pacific Ocean and well beyond the Rocky Montains (which are the western limit for tornados) so there is no risk of tornados in the city.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Getting to Santa Monica

You can reach Santa Monica along old Route 66 or via Interstate 10, 15, 5, 215, 610, US 101 or state higways 110 and 134. All of them are freeways.

Map of Route 66 in Santa Monica

, California.

The map below shows the alignment of Route 66 near Santa Monica and the color key is for Santa Monica only. It is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)

Blue: The 1926 to 1931 alignment of Route 66 into downtown Los Angeles.
Orange: The 1931- 34 alignment along Mission St. and Pasadena Ave.
Green: The 1935 alignment through Eagle Rock.
Red: The 1936 - 39 alignment along N Figueroa St. -later named US 66 Alt.
Brown: The 1936 - 1949 alignment along Sunset Blvd.
Pale Blue: The 1936⁄1940 - 1964 Route 66 through Los Angeles via the Arroyo Seco Parkway and then (after 1949 along the Hollywood freeway and Santa Monica Blvd.) into Santa Monica. Here we show it as if it reached the Will Rogers Marker -it does not.
Black shows the "real" final part of the road, that runs up to the junction of Olympic and Lincoln Blvd. Official "Endpoint of Rout 66".

See Route 66's alignment in California Map

  Click to See the Santa Monica alignment (Western CA: the road from "Devore to Santa Monica")

Remove or restore State shading
 

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Santa Monica

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across California

U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite having long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica (like this one).

Click on the following link for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.

Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica is the western endpoint of Route 66.

Sights and Attractions in Santa Monica, California

What to Do, Places to See

The Endpoint of Route 66

Santa Monica and its Route 66 attractions

Santa Monica is the Western terminus of Route 66, and in fact has not one, but three The Western Terminus: the Official Terminus of US 66, the End of the Trail sign and the Will Rogers Memorial Plaque.
It has the iconic Santa Monica Pier with its 1941 Santa Monica Pier Sign and several vintage motels: Santa Monica Motel, Hotel California, Dawn Motel - now Chez Jay, the 1960s Wilshire service station and the former Penguin Coffee Shop.

The Western Terminus of Route 66

The many ending points of Route 66

Most believe that Route 66 ends at Santa Monica Pier, and that is a very good example of excellent marketing by a Route 66 souvenir shop located on the pier. The true end point is actually located a few blocks from the pier, on the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard.

Then there is the bronze marker on Santa Monica and Ocean Ave., a memorial to Will Rogers, which states that it is "The End of the Trail". Confusing isn't it?. This is the true story on the western tip of Route 66:

Official Terminus of US 66

Lincoln Blvd. and Olympic Blv., Santa Monica. Map with Directions.

The Western Terminus of Route 66 from 1936 to 1964 was located on the intersection of Lincoln Blvd. with Olympic Blvd.

When the D.O.T. decided to extend Route 66 from downtown Los Angeles (The 1926-1936 Terminus of Route 66 was located on 7th St. and Broadway), it was realigned along Sunset Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. all the way to Santa Monica. But it did not end on Ocean Ave (which in those days was U.S. Highway 101 Alt), instead it took a left along Lincoln Blvd. and continued up to Olympic Blvd. where, at their intersection, it ended.

The Mother road ended here and never reached Santa Monica Pier or Ocean Ave. It was the end of the road until 1964, when it was decommissioned in this area, moving to the Arizona state line in Topock.

Trivia Terminus on Lincoln & Olympic Blvds.

Olympic Auto Motel

The Olympic Auto Motel in Santa Monica once stood on the corner of Olympic and Lincoln Boulevards. It has long since gone. You can see a vintage postcard here.

Penguin Coffee Shop

Then there is the "Penguin sign" on the SW corner at 1670 Lincoln Blvd (see image). There is a dental and orthodontics office there in a classic Googie StyleBuilding. It was originally the Penguin Coffee shop which opened in 1959. You can see what it looked like in its heyday here, and its current Street view. Same building

Vintage sign on Route 66 at its western terminus

Penguin at the old Penguin Coffee Shop in Santa Monica, US 66 Terminus

The Caltrans map of July 1940 clearly shows U.S. Highway Alt 101 running south along Ocean Ave. (currently California State Highway 1) and then taking a left along Olympic Blvd. for a only 2 blocks, before taking a right southwards along Lincoln Blvd. Here, at the intersection of Olympic Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd was where Route 66 met U.S. 101 Alt. and ended. (U.S. 101 on the other hand ran furhter west, coming from the north along Ventura Blvd and entering downtown Los Angeles, together with U.S. 66 along Sunset Blvd.)

But the U.S. Highway 66 Association campaigned from 1935 to 1950 to have the highway renamed as the Will Rogers Jr. Highway and to move its terminus to Palisades on Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd.

Will Rogers Memorial Plaque

Palisades Park, at Ocean Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. Map showing location.

0.7 miles west of the "real" endpoint of Route 66 is a plaque on the sidewalk, at Palisades Park, on the western side of Ocean Avenue, among the palm trees that reads:

"WILL ROGERS HIGHWAY
Dedicated 1952 to WILL ROGERS
Humorist - World Traveler - Good Neighbor
This Main Street of America
HIGHWAY 66
Was the first road he traveled in a career that led him straight to the hearts of his countrymen
"

It was placed here in 1952 to promote a film shot by Warner Brothers abouth the life of the famous star ("The Will Rogers Story"). The U.S. 66 Highway Associaton and Ford Motor Company also took part of the promotion and a caravan drove along Route 66 from Saint Louis to Santa Monica placing memorial markers at each state line. They chose this spot -which is not the exact end of Route 66, but, a kind of "state line" (next to the Pacific Ocean) to place the final marker.

Will Rogers Memorial Plaque in Santa Monica

Will Rogers Memorial Plaque, Route 66 Santa Monica
Will Rogers Memorial Plaque in Santa Monica, California, by

Santa Monica Pier "End of the Trail"

Santa Monica Pier Map showing location of sign.

The last marker is 0.3 miles south of the Will Rogers Plaque and 0.75 miles SW of the "real" terminus, on the Santa Monica Pier.

This is a much more recent sign which was erected during the Pier's centennial year, on Veterans Day, 2009. The idea was concevied by the Route 66 Alliance, the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, the non-profit Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. and 66 to Cali Inc. (a Route 66 souvenir company)

They formalized the notion held by the general public that Route 66 actually ended on the Pier, and therefore designated Santa Monica Pier as the West Coast's end to Route 66.

Since the D.O.T. had no more say in the matter (U.S. 66 had been decommissioned long ago), this is a local "official" post-mortem relocation of the western end point of an "officially" defunct highway. Marketing and promotion are the prime movers of this new endpoint.

The City Tour

This is a 3.6 mi. tour, Map with Directions

So, having covered all three terminus of Route 66 you can visit them and other attractions following this circuit:

Drive from Santa Monica Blvd. south (take a left) along Lincoln Blvd. up to its intersection with Olympic Ave. There is the Official Terminus of US 66, you can also see, to your right, the former Penguin Coffee Shop.

Head straight along Lincoln, and two blocks past Pico Blvd. you will reach a classic motel: Santa Monica Motel.

Santa Monica Motel former Travl-O-Tel

2102 Lincoln Blvd.

This is a Classic Motel on US 101 alt. Not on US 66, which dates back to the 1950s or 60s, and is still operating as a motel.

You can Book a Room in the Santa Monica Motel

It originally was the "Travl-O-Tel" as shown in the postcard below, and has not changed much, when you compare it to its current appearance:

Vintage view of the Travl-O-Tel (now the Santa Monica Motel)

Old postcard of the Travl-O-Tel Santa Monica
Old postcard of the Travl-O-Tel in Santa Monica, California, by

The same place today:

The Santa Monica Motel

Santa Monica Motel nowadays
Santa Monica Motel nowadays, in Santa Monica, California, by

Return to Pico and head right, after 0.5 mi., at 14th St, is a vintage service station:

Old Wilshire Service Station

Old Wilshire Service Station

Former Wilshire Service Station Google Street View

Pico Blvd. and 14th St., NW corner. Santa Monica (See map with location).

The remains of the canopy of a Wilshire gas station stand at the corner. The design is very 60-ish, with a streamlined space age stye: two steel poles pierce the canopy which is also supported by two steel cables. (See the Wilshire service station on Route 66 in San Bernardino CA).

Turn around and head west along Pico Blvd. and at Ocean Ave. turn right, here you will see two iconic motels, 0.2 miles north: The Dawn Motel (right) and Langdon Motel (left):

Former Langdon Motel now Hotel California

1670 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica

The hotel was built in 1948 and is still open. It was built in a hacienda-style, a two floor building with an external staircase in the front (which has shifted its position) and one on the side.

You can Book a Room in the California Hotel

A 1950s postcard of the Travl-O-Tel (now the California Hotel)

Old postcard of the  Langdon Motel  Santa Monica
1950s postcard of the Langdon Motel in Santa Monica, California, by

Now decorated with surf boards and with plenty of greenery:

The Hotel California today

Hotel California in Santa Monica
View of the Hotel California in Santa Monica, CA
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Dawn Motel, today Chez Jay

1657 Ocean Ave.

The Former "Dawn Motel" operated during the 1940s and 50s. The building is still there, but since 1959 it has served as a restaurant, "Chez Jay".

It proclaims itself as a ince 1959. Known as a "celebrity hang out, 'dive bar' or 'classy joint'... one of the premier steak and seafood neighborhood restaurants in all of Southern California. Check its website (www.chezjays.com).

A 1940s postcard of the Dawn Motel

Old postcard of the Dawn Motel, today Chez Jay restaurant Santa Monica
1950s postcard of the Dawn Motel, today Chez Jay, in Santa Monica, California, by

The rear part has changed -no more two story building and there are more pants, but the front, with the restaurant is basically the same, down to the inverted "L" shaped neon sign.

Chez Jay Restaurant

Chez Jay Restaurant in Santa Monica
View of Chez Jay Restaurant in Santa Monica, CA
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Turn left on Colorado Ave. and drive onto the Santa Monica Pier (or park in the areas next to it). Here you can see the End of the Trail sign

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Historic Landmark

Colorado Ave. and Pacific Ocean

This double pier, which is over one hundred years old, is the most recently nominated "Endpoint of Route 66". It contains the "Pacific Park" amusement park and many shops and restaurants. Every fall it is thte Venue of "The Taste of Santa Monica on the Santa Monica Pier", where visitors sample food and drinks from Santa Monica's restaurants.

Aerial view of the Santa Monica Pier

Aerial view of Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Aerial view of Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, Highsmith, Carol M.

The current pier opened in 1909 as the Municipal Pier, it was a 1,600 foot-long wooden pier which also conducted the piping that pumped the city's sewage out to sea.

In 1916 a second pier was built alongside the Muncipal Pier by Charles Looff, it was the "Santa Monica Pleasure Pier" and it included the Hippodrome building built in a California-Byzantine-Moorish-style; it housed many merr-go-rounds and is now houses the 1922 Historic Carousel with 44 hand-carved horses, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Looff Pier was later expanded and now measures 1,080 ft long and 270 ft. wide.

The bridge and entry gate were built during the Depression (1938)

A winter storm on January 27, 1983 razed one third of the pier.

It appears in many films, such as The Sting, Titanic and Forrest Gump among others. In 2012, it can be seen sinking into the ocean.

Santa Monica Pier Sign

Santa Monica Historic Landmark

The Santa Monica Pier arch sign

Santa Monica Pier Sign and arch.

At Colorado Blvd. and Ocean Ave. on the western side of the Viaduct. Map with location.

The Sign spans the two-lane wide viaduct and was built in 1941 in Streamline Moderne style.

It is a stylized metal arch, 35 ft (10.7 m) wide mounted on yellow colored steel poles. Painted in blue with white sans-serif font letters, it reads, in four lines:

SANTA MONICA
✩ YACHT HARBOR ✩
SPORT FISHING ✩ BOATING
cafes

The letters are lighted with neon tubes while the words "Santa Monica" are backlit and painted in contrasting blue upon white.

Final part: the Will Rogers Plaque

Continue north again along Ocean Ave. and stop at Santa Monica Boulevard to see the Will Rogers Memorial Plaque, and Palisades Park.

Palisades Park

This park stretches out from north to south, along the coast, on the crumbling bluffs that overlook the Pacific. A great place to walk and take in views of the sea. It has a totem pole and camera obscura. Restrooms and picnic areas.

Enjoy the view and the Ocean here, where Route 66 meets the sea

Tours & Itineraries

Visit neighboring Los Angeles.

Westernmost segment of Route 66: End of the Trail

The map above shows the different alignments adopted by Route 66 through the urban sprawl of Los Angeles to its western terminus (which was shifted in 1936 to Santa Monica).

All colors mentioned below are shown in the Map above.

The 1926 to 1931 Alignment into Los Angeles is shown in Blue in the map. The 1931 to 1934 Variant is shown in the map in Orange as is the 1935 Alignment through Eagle Rock shown in Green line.

There was also the 1936-1939 Alignment (Later US 66 Alt.), shown in Red in the map.

The later alinments include the 1940 to 1964 Arroyo Seco Parkway to L.A. (Pale Blue).

1936: Route 66 extended from Los Angeles to to Santa Monica

This is the US 66 that reached Santa Monica It is also shown in Pale Blue, west of Los Angeles in the map above for the Hollywood Freeway and Santa Monica Blvd. segments and Brown for the 1936 - 1949 alignment along Sunset Blvd.

Santa Monica Blvd. 1936 - 1964

US 66 heads west, until the "End of the Road" in Santa Monica and crosses West Hollywood and Beverly Hills as well as the Western part of L.A..

in Black is the last part of the road, that runs up to the junction of Olympic and Lincoln Blvd. End of Route 66.

Santa Monica

West of Centralia Ave., Route 66 enters Santa Monica (City map) and originally headed south along Lincoln Blvd. where it took a left and ended on the junction with Olympic Blvd.

> > See the previous segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (east)

> > See this segment Pasadena to Los Angeles (west)

> > See this segment through Los Angeles, W. Hollywood and Beverly Hills (west)

Sources

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License