U.S. Route 1

U.S. Route 1

U.S. Route 1 marker

U.S. Route 1
Route information
Length: 2,377 mi[1] (3,825 km)
Existed: 1926 – present
Major junctions
South end: Whitehead Street / Fleming Street in Key West, Florida
  US 41 in Miami
I-10 in Jacksonville
I-26 in Columbia, S.C.
I-40 in Raleigh, N.C.
I-64 in Richmond, Va.
US 50 in Washington, D.C.
US 40 in Baltimore
I-76 in Philadelphia
I-87 in New York City
I-90 in Boston
North end: NB 161.png NB 161 in Clair, New Brunswick, Canada
Highway system

United States Numbered Highways
List • Bannered • Divided • Replaced

U.S. Route 1 is a major north–south U.S. Highway that serves the East Coast of the United States. It runs 2,377 miles (3,825 km) from Fort Kent, Maine at the Canadian border south to Key West, Florida. U.S. 1 generally parallels Interstate 95, though it is significantly farther west (inland) between Jacksonville, Florida and Petersburg, Virginia. The highway connects most of the major cities of the east coast, including Miami, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; West Palm Beach, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Augusta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trenton, New Jersey; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Newark, New Jersey; New York, New York; New Haven, Connecticut; New London, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine.

U.S. 1 is the eastmost of the main north–south U.S. Highways, all of which end in one, but there are areas where it is not the eastmost route of the system, with large portions of US 9, US 13, US 17, and US 301 occupying corridors closer to the ocean. When the road system was laid out in the 1920s, U.S. 1 was mostly assigned to the existing Atlantic Highway, which followed the Fall Line between the Piedmont and the Atlantic Coastal Plain north of Augusta.[2] At the time, the highways farther east were of lower quality and did not serve the major population centers.[3]


Route description


Mile zero in Key West

U.S. 1 travels along the east coast of Florida, beginning at 490 Whitehead St. in Key West [1] and passing through Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Melbourne, Titusville, Daytona Beach, Palm Coast, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville. The southernmost piece through the Florida Keys, about 100 miles (150 km) long, is the two-lane Overseas Highway, originally built in the 1930s after the Florida East Coast Railway's Overseas Railroad was ruined by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The rest of U.S. 1 in Florida is generally a four-lane divided highway, despite the existence of the newer I-95 not far away. State Road A1A is a continuous beachfront alternate to U.S. 1, cut only by assorted unbridged inlets and the Kennedy Space Center. North of Jacksonville, U.S. 1 turns northwest in order to reach the Fall Line at Augusta, Georgia; US 17 becomes the coastal route into Virginia, where US 13 takes over.[4] In Florida until the 1990s, U.S. 1 used high-contrast markers (white text on a red background).[5]

Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina

The part of U.S. 1 in Georgia, as it shifts from the coastal alignment in Florida to the Fall Line alignment in South Carolina, is generally very rural, passing through marshes and former plantations between the towns and cities of Folkston, Waycross, Baxley, Lyons, Swainsboro, and Augusta. The Georgia Department of Transportation has long-range plans to widen all of US 1 to four lanes with bypasses. Currently, the highway is primarily a two-lane road with progress made in southern Georgia, around Lyons and from Augusta to Wrens. Into South Carolina, U.S. 1 is paralleled by Interstate 20 along the Fall Line through Aiken, Lexington, and Columbia to Camden and Lugoff. US 1 functions as a local two-lane road with occasional boulevard stretches. After Camden, U.S. 1 continues northeast away from any Interstate towards Bethune, Patrick, McBee and Cheraw with no bypasses and four lane sections except around Cheraw through the US 52 and SC 9 multiplexes. After SC 9, it continues northward into North Carolina as a two-lane highway. SCDOT has no plans to widen or bypass any US 1 alignments northeast of Camden to the N.C. line. Between the S.C. line and the US 74 bypass is a two lane road but sees a considerable amount of truck and tourist traffic of people cutting through from the I-73/74 corridor attempting to reach points south and east. Through Rockingham, it goes through downtown with a bypass in the future plans. North of the NC 177 juncture, it becomes 4 lanes or greater. After Richmond County, it goes into Moore County with two Expressway bypasses in Southern Pines, Vass and Cameron. U.S. 1 continues through Sanford, and on to Cary and Raleigh. US 1 runs concurrently with US 64 through most of Cary and the freeway recently underwent a major renovation and improvements that added lanes in both directions. North of Raleigh, U.S. 1 (known as Capital Boulevard in northern Wake County) crosses Interstate 540 and then again becomes a four-lane divided arterial to Interstate 85 near Henderson. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has begun a corridor study for section of US 1. Moreover, NCDOT is planning to finish four laning US 1 in Richmond County past NC 177 with a Rockingham bypass to the east. There are no plans from SCDOT to widen US 1 from the state line. From Henderson into Virginia, U.S. 1 runs parallel with I-85 as a two-lane local road until the state line where Virginia hosts a continuous third center lane for alternate passing towards US Highway 58 before South Hill.

Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland

Through Virginia, U.S. 1 is paralleled by Interstates: the remainder of Interstate 85 to Petersburg, Interstate 95 through Richmond and Fredericksburg to Alexandria, and Interstate 395 into Arlington. Within Virginia, U.S. 1 is called Jefferson Davis Highway by state law, although local communities have renamed it without consequence. It is best known as "Jeff Davis Highway". U.S. 1 crosses the Potomac River with I-395 on the 14th Street Bridges, and splits to follow mainly 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue through the District of Columbia. US 1 is at the minimum a 3 lane (with alternate passing) from the N.C. line to Petersburg with occasional four lane divided sections. North of Petersburg is a four lane undivided roadway at the minimum to the D.C. line. After exiting the District into Maryland, U.S. 1 follows the Baltimore-Washington Boulevard, the first of several modern highways built along the Baltimore-Washington corridor; I-95 is the newest, after the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The route bypasses downtown Baltimore on North Avenue and exits the city to the northeast on Belair Road, gradually leaving the I-95 corridor, which passes through Wilmington, Delaware, for a straighter path towards Philadelphia. Around and beyond Bel Air, U.S. 1 is a two-lane road, crossing the Susquehanna River over the top of the Conowingo Dam before entering Pennsylvania. (U.S. 1 bypasses Delaware, unlike I-95.)[4]


The two-lane US 1 becomes a four-lane freeway, officially known as the John H. Ware III Memorial Highway, just after crossing into Pennsylvania. This bypass extends around Oxford and Kennett Square, merging into the four-lane divided Baltimore Pike just beyond the latter. At Media, US 1 again becomes a freeway - the Media Bypass - ending just beyond Interstate 476. After several name changes, the road becomes City Avenue, the western city limit of Philadelphia, at the end of which a short overlap with the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) leads to the Roosevelt Expressway and then the twelve-lane Roosevelt Boulevard. US 1 again becomes a freeway after leaving the city, bypassing Penndel and Morrisville and crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey on the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge.[4]

New Jersey and New York

After crossing into New Jersey in Mercer County, US 1 continues on the Trenton Freeway through the city of Trenton and Lawrence as a four lane freeway. As the freeway ends, the four lane divided highway upgrades to six lanes after I-95/I-295 passing through the Penns Neck section of West Windsor Township. Through Penns Neck is a series of traffic signals. NJDOT is looking to revamp the highway through this area by removing traffic signals with grade separations. The highway enters Middlesex County through Plainsboro and South Brunswick. By Forrestal Village, the highway downgrades from 6 to 4 lanes until after Finnegans Lane in North Brunswick. Northward, it continues through New Brunswick as a short jersey-freeway until the CR 529/Plainfield Avenue traffic signal in Edison. Through Edison and Woodbridge has a mix of boulevard and jersey freeway segments and continues to do so after the US 9 juncture in the Avenel section of Woodbridge. US 1/9 concurrency continues through the rest of the state. The six lane divided highway remains through Rahway in Union County and Elizabeth, until it reaches the Newark Airport, where it becomes a dual carriageway freeway around downtown Newark in Essex County with a 2-2-2-2 configuration. The historic Pulaski Skyway takes US 1/9 into Jersey City, and the route exits the freeway at Tonnele Circle to head north into Bergen County. US 1/9 turns onto US 46 as a jersey-freeway, the three routes run northeast to the George Washington Bridge Plaza, where they merge into I-95. US 46 ends in the middle of the bridge, which crosses the Hudson River into New York, and US 9 exits just beyond onto Broadway in Manhattan, but US 1 stays with I-95 onto the Cross-Bronx Expressway, exiting in the Bronx onto Webster Avenue. Two turns take US 1 via Fordham Road to Boston Road, which it follows northeast out of the city to the state line, never straying far from I-95.[4]. As it enters Greenwich, Connecticut, it continues as a two lane local road.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts

U.S. 1 serves the shore of the Long Island Sound in Connecticut, parallel to I-95. Beyond New Haven, the highway travels east–west, and some signs in the state indicate this rather than the standard north–south. While I-95 in Rhode Island takes a diagonal path to Providence, U.S. 1 continues east along the coast through Westerly to Wakefield, where it turns north and follows Narragansett Bay. Most of this part is a four-lane divided highway, providing access to Route 138 towards Newport. After Route 4 splits as a mostly-freeway connection to I-95, U.S. 1 becomes a lower-speed surface road, passing through Warwick, Providence, and Pawtucket. The route parallels I-95 again through Providence and Pawtucket and into Massachusetts, traveling towards Boston as a four-lane road. When it reaches Dedham, U.S. 1 turns east, overlapping Route 128 and I-93 east to Braintree and north through Downtown Boston. The Tobin Bridge and Northeast Expressway take US 1 out of Boston, after which it again parallels I-95 through Newburyport to the New Hampshire state line.[4]

New Hampshire and Maine

Memorial Bridge between New Hampshire and Maine
The monument marking the northern terminus in Fort Kent, ME

The short portion of US 1 in New Hampshire follows the historic Lafayette Road, staying close to I-95, before leaving the city of Portsmouth on the Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River. Within Maine, US 1 begins as a parallel route to I-95 near the Atlantic Ocean. At Portland, I-95 splits off to the north, and I-295 heads northeast paralleling US 1 to Brunswick. There US 1 turns east as a mostly two-lane road along the coast to Calais; much of this portion is advertised as the "Coastal Route" on signs. North from Calais, US 1 follows the Canadian border, crossing I-95 in Houlton and eventually turning west and southwest to its "north" end at the Clair-Fort Kent Bridge in Fort Kent. The short Route 161 extends north on the New Brunswick (Canada) side of the bridge to Route 120, a secondary east–west route from Edmundston, New Brunswick west to Saint-Alexandre, Quebec.[4]


Marker used for Route 1 in New England (1922)

The direct predecessor to US 1 was the Atlantic Highway, an auto trail established in 1911 as the Quebec-Miami International Highway. In 1915 it was renamed the Atlantic Highway,[6] and the northern terminus was changed to Calais, Maine.[7] Due to the overlapping of auto trail designations, portions of the route had other names that remain in common use, such as the Boston Post Road between Boston and New York, the Lincoln Highway between New York and Philadelphia, Baltimore Pike between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the Dixie Highway in and south of eastern Georgia. North of Augusta, Georgia, the highway generally followed the Fall Line, rather than a more easterly route through the swamps of the Atlantic Coastal Plain.[8] Brickell Avenue is the name given to the stretch of U.S. Route 1 in Miami, Florida just south of the Miami River.

When the New England road marking system was established in 1922, the Atlantic Highway within New England was signed as Route 1, with a Route 24 continuing north to Madawaska;[9] New York extended the number to New York City in 1924 with its own Route 1.[10] Other states adopted their own systems of numbering, and by 1926 all states but Maryland had signed the Atlantic Highway as various routes, usually changing numbers at the state line. In 1925, the Joint Board on Interstate Highways created a preliminary list of interstate routes to be marked by the states,[11] including Route 1 along the Atlantic. This highway began at Fort Kent, Maine and followed the existing Route 24 to Houlton and Route 15 to Bangor, beyond which it generally followed the Atlantic Highway to Miami.[12] In all states but Georgia that had numbered their state highways, Route 1 followed only one or two numbers across the state.[13] The only significant deviation from the Atlantic Highway was between Augusta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, where Route 1 was assigned to a more inland route, rather than following the Atlantic Highway via Savannah.[3]

One of the many changes made to the system before the final numbering was adopted in 1926 involved US 1 in Maine. The 1925 plan had assigned Route 1 to the shorter inland route (Route 15) between Houlton and Bangor, while Route 2 followed the longer coastal route via Calais. In the system as adopted in 1926, US 2 instead took the inland route, while US 1 followed the coast, absorbing all of the former Routes 24 and 1 in New England.[14][15] Many local and regional relocations, often onto parallel superhighways, were made in the early days of US 1; this included the four-lane divided Route 25 in New Jersey, completed in 1932 with the opening of the Pulaski Skyway,[16] and a bypass of Bangor involving the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, opened in 1931.[17] The Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West was completed in 1938, and soon became a southern extension of US 1.[18]

With the construction of the Interstate Highway System in and after the 1950s, much of US 1 from Houlton to Miami was bypassed by Interstate 95. Between Houlton and Brunswick, Maine, I-95 took a shorter inland route, much of it paralleling US 2 on the alignment proposed for US 1 in 1925. Between Philadelphia and Baltimore, I-95 leaves US 1 to pass through Wilmington. Most notably, I-95 and US 1 follow different corridors between Petersburg, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida; while US 1 followed the Fall Line west of the coastal plain, I-95 takes a more direct route through the plain and its swamps. Although some of this part of US 1 was followed by other Interstates - I-85 between Petersburg and Henderson, North Carolina, and I-20 between Camden, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia - the rest remains an independent route that has been four-laned in many places. By the late 1970s, most of I-95 had been completed, replacing US 1 as the main corridor of the east coast and relegating most of it to local road status.[19]

See also

Related U.S. Routes

Note: US 101, which runs along the Pacific coast from California to Washington state, is not a part of the US 1 "family".

Related state highways


  1. ^ American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, United States Numbered Highways, 1989 Edition
  2. ^ E. W. James on designating the Federal-aid system and developing the U.S. numbered highway plan
  3. ^ a b Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas, 1926, accessed via the Broer Map Library
  4. ^ a b c d e f Google Maps street maps and USGS topographic maps, accessed via ACME Mapper
  5. ^ John Gordon, The Virginian-Pilot, U.S. Highway 17 to Florida: Scenic, Historic and Very Slow, December 29, 1993: "Drivers know they're in Florida when they notice the U.S. Highway signs are color-coded for easy recognition. The U.S. 17 signs, for example, are yellow, while those of U.S. 1 are red, U.S. 90 blue. and U.S. 27 green."
  6. ^ William Kaszynski, The American Highway: The History and Culture of Roads in the United States, 2000, p. 38
  7. ^ Decatur Daily Review, Many Auto Highways Gridiron the Nation, November 14, 1915
  8. ^ Clason Map Company, Midget Map of the Transcontinental Trails of the United States, 1923
  9. ^ New York Times, Motor Sign Uniformity, April 16, 1922, p. 98
  10. ^ New York Times, New York's Main Highways Designated by Numbers, December 21, 1924, p. XX9
  11. ^ Richard F. Weingroff, From Names to Numbers: The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System
  12. ^ Report of Joint Board on Interstate Highways, October 30, 1925, Approved by the Secretary of Agriculture, November 18, 1925
  13. ^ The following routes were used, shown on the 1926 Rand McNally:
    • Florida: 4
    • Georgia: 15, 17, and 24
    • South Carolina: 12 and 50
    • North Carolina: 50
    • Virginia: 31
    • Maryland: state highways were not numbered prior to the U.S. Highway system
    • Pennsylvania: 12 and 1
    • New Jersey: 13 and 1
    • New York: 1
    • New England: 1 and 24, and a small piece of 160 beyond Madawaska, Maine (in the 1925 plan, part of 15 was also used)
  14. ^ United States System of Highways, November 11, 1926
  15. ^ United States Numbered Highways, American Highways (AASHO), April 1927
  16. ^ Hart, Steven (2007). The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America's First Superhighway. The New Press. pp. 1–5. ISBN 978-1-59558-098-6. 
  17. ^ Maine Department of Transportation, Waldo-Hancock Bridge, accessed October 2007
  18. ^ State Road Department of Florida, Official State Road Map of Florida, 1941
  19. ^ Gulf, Tourgide: United States, Canada and Mexico (Rand McNally & Company), 1977

External links

Main U.S. Routes
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20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
80 81 82 83 84 85 87 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
101 163 400 412 425
Lists  U.S. Routes • Bannered • Divided • Bypassed
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Route 32A N.E. Route 1A

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