When the US route system was conceived in the mid-1920s, one of the guidelines was that the longer, more important routes would be assigned 1- and 2-digit numbers. Given that, US 46 really seems like an outlier. At only 75 miles in length, it is the shortest of all 1- and 2-digit US routes. Not only that, but US 46 is entirely in one state (New Jersey). Why would AASHO consider a short, single-state highway to be worthy of a 2-digit US route designation? Historic documents in their route numbering archive reveal at least some of the answers. As it turns out, when US 46 was first proposed in the mid-1930s, it was envisioned as a route running between New York City and Cleveland, along the corridor shown on this map:
In 2009 my father and my uncle found these photos -- taken by my paternal grandfather during the 1950s -- and gave them to me, knowing I would appreciate them. That was about 20 years after I had begun taking road sign photos of my own, and until then I had the mistaken notion that I was the first in my family to have this strange hobby. Is it possible that this sort of thing can be passed down through bloodlines?