I've only lived three places in my life, Minnesota (where I grew up), California (where I lived in the '80s) and Arizona, where I am now, and where I always hope to be. So when I heard that it was unusual to add the word "the" to a freeway number, I was surprised. Then I put it to the test - sure enough, I found myself saying "take the 10", "take the 101" (both of which are freeways in Los Angeles and Phoenix) but when I thought of where I learned to drive, in Minneapolis, I found myself saying "take 35W".
This train of thought started for me just a couple of months ago, when I read an article that insisted that the use of "the" was strictly a Southern California thing. So I asked around here in Arizona. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I talked to includes the word "the". It seemed like a silly question to people I asked, but my friends are used to me asking silly questions.
So, apparently this is a Southern California and Arizona thing, using the word "the". I always do it, and I never heard myself doing it. So, if you're a local, you probably do, too. And people from elsewhere may look at you kinda funny.
Right now I'm curious about elsewhere. The article that I saw insisted that it was strictly a Southern California thing, but obviously it's not. I talked to my brother, who lives in the Bay area, and he says he hears people saying it with and without the "the".
|1960s master freeway plan for the Phoenix, Arizona area.|
|A postcard showing Black Canyon Freeway in the 1960. I've always said "the Black Canyon Freeway", and if you do, then you're probably a local.|
|Construction of the 1-10 with the 303 freeway, Phoenix, Arizona. ADOT calls it Interstate 10 and Loop 303.|
Image at the top of this post: The I-17 freeway under construction in 1961, Phoenix, Arizona. Also called the Black Canyon Freeway.
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