US Highway 22, a diagonal route that serves the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, was one of the original federal highways laid out by the American Association of State Highway Officials (today's AASHTO in its 1925 highway plan).
At the time of its commissioning in 1926, US 22 started its run in Cambridge, Ohio, and came to an end in Elizabeth, New Jersey. In 1932, its eastern terminus was extended to Newark. A final change came in 1936, when US 22's western terminus was extended down to Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, the route's endpoints have undergone no further changes.
Starting at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Cincinnati, US 22 begins its north and eastward trek across the prairies of Ohio. The route calls first at the city of Wilmington, known for its many Quaker meeting houses. Just a few more miles brings the traveler to Washington Court House. Founded in the Revolutionary era, Washington C H is unusual in that its streets are laid out on a northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast grid, as opposed to the usual north-south east-west plan. This permits each side of the town's court house to receive sunlight year-round. Here, US 22 crosses US Highway 62 and US Highway 35, two more of the mainline diagonal highways that cross the state.
At Lancaster, on the Hocking Canal, US 22 crosses US Highway 33, running south from Columbus on its way to the hills of West Virginia. Lancaster was the birthplace of two famous Civil War generals, Confederate William T. Sherman (of the March to Atlanta fame), and Thomas Ewing, Jr. for the Union side.
US 22 continues on to the northeast and soon arrives at Zanesville, founded in 1797 and once known as the “Pottery Capital of the World” owing to its large production of both art and useful pottery. Zanesville is also known for its unusual Y Bridge, the only one of its type in the world. US 22 intersects the major transcontinental Interstate 70, and joins with US Highway 40, the famed National Road. Together, the two routes continue on Cambridge.
Birthplace of astronaut John Glenn and actor William Boyd (“Hopalong Cassidy”), Cambridge is a medium-sized city situated on a plateau in the Appalachian Mountains. Just after crossing historic old US Highway 21 (now decommissioned), US 22 separates from US 40 and continues on its way to Steubenville, birthplace of entertainer Dean Martin. Steubenville is also known internationally for its “Murals of Steubenville”, a series of large paintings across downtown walls. The Murals are a famed tourist attraction, and more are being added by local artists.
Now carried on freeway-quality highway, US 22 crosses the Ohio River and passes through a small part of West Virginia on its way to Pennsylvania. There, the route becomes the Penn Lincoln Parkway, and soon arrives at Pittsburgh. Known as the “City of Bridges” because of its position at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania. The city was named for Sir William Pitt in 1758. Pittsburgh has figured prominently in the entertainment industry over the years; many well-known performers hail from the city, and over 120 feature motion pictures have been shot in or near the city.
Leaving Pittsburgh, US 22 assumes a true east-west orientation and continues on through the hills and valleys of Pennsylvania, passing through Murrysville, Blairsville, and Armagh on its way to Ebenburg. There, the route crosses one of its “child” routes, US Highway 422. A few miles east of Ebensburg, US 22 again assumes freeway status until its junction with the inappropriately-numbered Interstate 99 just south of Altoona. There, US 22 turns northeasterly again and tracks a serpentine route through the mountains, meeting more of its child routes – US Highway 522 at Mt. Union, and US Highway 322 at Lewistown. At Duncannon, the route crosses another major north-south route, US Highway 11, and turns due south for the run into Harrisburg.
Harrisburg is not only the capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but home to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest annual agricultural exposition in the United States. On a less-noteworthy note, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown happened just south of Harrisburg in 1979. However, Harrisburg recovered from that and from years of economic miasma, and is today again a vibrant city.
Northeast of Harrisburg, US 22 enters the Lehigh Valley and becomes collocated with Interstate 78, though the old road runs nearby as “Old US 22”. The route continues on to the old steel-manufacturing cities of Allentown (immortalized in song by Billy Joel) and Bethlehem. Just before Allentown, the traveller may choose to remain on Interstate 78, or divert on to the US 22 freeway. At Easton, US 22 crosses the Delaware River and into New Jersey. It rejoins I-78 for a few miles more until it separates again at Annandale and resumes its own pavement.
The route tracks a southeasterly curve as it passes through the borough of Raritan and near the city of Plainfield. Raritan is known as the home of the famous pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, while Plainfield was not only the site of George Washington's headquarters (the Nathaniel Drake House), but also the birthplace of a musical style known as P-Funk, created by George Clinton.
US 22 continues on through Union Township and crosses the Garden State Parkway, and reaches its eastern terminus at an interchange with US Highways 1 and 9 south of Newark and just near the Newark Liberty International Airport. At this point, US 22 has racked up 651 miles in length. Though it is collocated in many places with Interstate 78, US 22 remains a well-used highway and serves as one of the many connectors between the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard.
Droz, Robert V., "Sequential List of US Highways", US Highways From US 1 to US 830
. July 2003. <http://www.us-highways.com/us1830.htm> (April 2008)
Sanderson, Dale. "Highway Ends", End of US Highway 22
. 2000-2008. <http://www.geocities.com/usend2029/End022/end022.htm>. (April 2008).
Sanderson, Dale. "Highway Ends", Historic Endpoints of US Highway 22
. 2007-2008. <http://www.geocities.com/mapguy_annex/HwyEnds/End022-h/index.htm>. (April 2008).