Liberty Highway

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Liberty Highway

Map of the Liberty Highway
Route information
Major junctions
West endCleveland, OH
East endNew York City
CountryUnited States
StatesOhio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey
Highway system

The Liberty Highway was an auto trail in the United States linking New York City with Cleveland, Ohio.[1] It passed through Binghamton, New York; Elmira, New York; Jamestown, New York; and Erie, Pennsylvania. First signed in 1918, it was named after the village of Liberty, New York.[2]

Through New Jersey and New York, the route of the Liberty Highway was designated as Route 17. Today, much of these routes have been bypassed by freeways, most notably by Interstate 86. Throughout much of the Catskills and the Southern Tier of New York, old portions of the road are still named Liberty Highway or Old Route 17.


The moniker "Liberty Highway" was first given by R. H. Johnson, who was the manager of the New York branch of the White Motorcar Company. Because well-known highways like the Liberty Highway were clogged with traffic, he studied maps and found a more direct route through the Southern Tier, which was better maintained and far less traveled. He christened it after Liberty, New York, through which the route travels, and to the "spirit of the times".[2]

Johnson first published his route in Motor Age Magazine. Further publicity was brought by other publications, and a film commissioned by Johnson.[3] The Liberty Highway Association was formed in 1919 to further promote the route.[4]

Beginning with the designation of Route 17 over the highway in New York in 1924, the Liberty Highway label began to fall out of fashion, though it was still being advertised as late as 1928 by the AAA. When Route 17 began to be upgraded to a freeway, the Liberty Highway was long forgotten.[3]

First routing[5]

Original map of Liberty Highway route


New Jersey

New York

Rockland County

Orange County

Sullivan County

Delaware County

Broome County

Tioga County

Chemung County

Steuben County

Allegany County

Cattaraugus County

The former Liberty Highway still exists but is closed to traffic between Red House and Steamburg

Chautauqua County



Second-order bullet points indicate parts of the main route that were re-routed as the highway was upgraded
Former routing of New York State Route 17. As Route 17 was reassigned, the Liberty Highway designation was moved onto these new segments.

Later additions

As late as 1928, the highway association added other roads to its system, including realignments of Route 17.[6] The following names are descriptive, rather than official monikers.

Chautauqua Branch

Little Valley Loop

Bath Loop

Watkins Glen Loop

Susquehanna River South Bank Loop

Port Jervis Loop

Hudson River East Bank Loop

See also


  1. ^ "Liberty Highway". National and Multi-State Auto Trails. October 26, 1998. Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Johnston, R. J. (April 4, 1918). "The Liberty Highway: Touring and Driveaway Route Between Cleveland and New York". Motor Age. 33 (14): 72–75. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The Liberty Highway: Buffalo to New York". New York Almanack. 2014-06-19. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  4. ^ Motor Age. Class Journal Company. 1919.
  5. ^ Official Automobile Blue Book 1923: Volume Two (Middle Atlantic and Southeastern). Chicago: Automobile Blue Book Publishing. 1922. pp. 63–66.
  6. ^ American Automobile Association (1928). Liberty Highway (Map).