About the Cruise Route

"American Graffiti" was the first big film from Modesto native George Lucas. This music-themed night on the town in 1962 lit a fire that created the nostalgia movement of the 1970s and ‘80s, leading to the resurgence of ‘50s music and hit TV series like "Happy Days;" and it all started right here in Modesto, USA.

The characters of "American Graffiti" were loosely drawn from people George grew-up with in Modesto. The places and scenes in the movie were drawn from his own cruising experiences in his hometown...

The “cruising” showcased in the film was originally called “dragging” and took place on 10th Street. A back-and-forth run from O Street to G Street took place every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Later, 10th Street became a one-way and a loop was formed at 10th Street, G Street, 11th Street and finally to O Street, where Burge’s Drive-In anchored the turn-around. Burge’s was the inspiration for Mel’s Drive-In in "American Graffiti." Even though Burge’s and Al’s Drive-Ins are no longer around, the A&W Drive-In on G Street still features roller-skate wearing carhops and the sounds of the ‘50s ring through the speakers.

The Modesto Historic Cruise Route Walk of Fame is located in 10th Street Plaza, located at 1010 10th St. The Historic Cruise Route Tour starts and finishes at this location as well.

Enjoy cruising Modesto’s history and celebrating our “Legends of the Cruise”

Cruise Map Route

The "American Graffiti" film captured the first big weekend of cruising after school let out for the summer. This has traditionally been Graffiti Night in Modesto through the years. People and their cars descended on Modesto on that weekend every year starting in the mid-to-late 1970s and continuing into the early 1990s. This was mostly a fun and safe celebration, but it turned unruly in 1993. Since that time, cruising has been banned in Modesto.

The spirit of cruising returns every year as the official kick-off to summer in Modesto with classic car shows that draw vintage cars and celebrity guests from around the world when the North Modesto Kiwanis Club hosts the popular Classic Car Parade through Downtown Modesto and the two-day "American Graffiti" Car Show and Festival.

Dedicated Cruise Route Volunteers:

Ken White
Wendy Lucas
Patti McCarthy
Richard Ravalli
Carlos Rodriguez
Wes Page
Ben Chance

Cruise Route Development Committee:

Chris Murphy
Jennifer Mullen
Nancy Young
Laurie Smith
Margaret James
Middagh Goodwin