WIKI (1D. User-edited online reference) tells us that INTERSTATE (20A. With 59-Across, highway that goes through the 15 places indicated in this puzzle, in order, north to south) NINETYFIVE (59A. See 20-Across) (I-95) is the main highway on the East Coast of the United States, paralleling the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida and serving some of the most populated urban areas in the country, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Miami. It is one of the north-south routes of the Interstate Highway System, having replaced older U.S. Highways, mainly U.S. Route 1.
The puzzle sports the zip code abbreviations of the 15 states through which the highway passes contained in double circles placed from top to bottom in order of the route from north to south -- ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL. Unlike the straight-a-way of I-95, the road indicated by those abbreviations in the crossword is reminiscent of the old roads of the west where it is said the builders followed a jackrabbit, which is just fine -- it makes for a scenic route!
The remaining entries, however, do seem to exist simply to serve the indication of a highway within the puzzle, that too is good -- who wants to get LOST (33A. Needing directions)?
SHORTENED (10D. Abridged) and TWICEADAY (36D. Every 12 hours) are the only other long entries, followed by eight six-letter entries -- 38A. “Dueling BANJOS”; BONMOT (38D. Bit of wit); DEFINE (43A. Do lexicographical work); DRYOFF (49D. Use a towel); SMITTY (8D. Old Walter Berndt comic strip about a teen); STEPPE (21D. Treeless plain); STEROL (5D. Unsaturated alcohol); and WHITER (48D. Like sheets after bleaching).
Five-letter entries dominate the crossword -- ANENT (2D. Concerning); ANISE (51D. Biscotti flavoring); DRACO (47A. Harsh Athenian lawgiver); FABLE (68A. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” e.g.); FLEES (71A. Skedaddles); HOSEA (9D. Old Testament prophet); 14. INHOT water (facing trouble); KEENE (17A. Nancy Drew author Carolyn); LENNY (26A. Bruce or Kravitz); NIOBE (54D. Weeper of myth); NORSE (28D. Like Loki or Thor); OFFAL (53D. Butcher’s byproducts); 65A. In the year OFOUR Lord …; ORONO (52A. College town near Bangor); OVULE (55D. Small egg); PARDO (40A. Longtime “S.N.L.“ announcer Don); PEACE (29A. Traditional Christmas sentiment); TAROT (23A. Kind of deck for a fortuneteller); THETA (3D. Letter before iota); TONER (4D. Copier additive); WATTS (1A. Rolling Stones drummer Charlie); WEBMD (48A. Online health info site).
Along the route, there are also plenty of three- and four-letter entries connected by the main road -- AJAR, AUST, AVOW, CCLI, CITY, CORA, CPA, DRAY, EARP, ELIS, ELLA, ELMO, ELSA, ERAT, ERES, ERST, ESPY, EVAH, HEMI, HERO, IRAN, ITAR, LADD, MEET, MESH, NAGS, NCAA, NOV, NSEC, NRA, OMAR, OVER, PORK, PRO, SCUD, SEGA, SHIP (One of the S’s in U.S.S.), SOFA, SUN, TACT.
Getting there is half the fun!
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THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Xword information -- Across: 6. Netting; 15. Pollster Roper; 16. Sizable sandwich; 18. Y’s guys?; 19. Epps of TV’s “House”; 22. Ice Capades venue; 24. Asset in answering the question “Does this dress make me look fat?”; 39. Declare openly; 42. Lawman Wyatt, 45. Phoenix cager; 46. Strong cart; 50. Cole Porter’s “Well, Did You ___?“; 63. Mideast missile; 64. ___-Tass news agency; 66. Movie lioness; 67. Nintendo rival; 69. Half of an E.P.A. rating; 70. Before, once. Down: 6. Convene; 7. Jazz’s Fitzgerald; 11. Hot-rod engine, briefly; 12. Tehran’s land; 13. Much-criticized Congressional spending; 25. Expert with I.R.S. returns; 27. Gun lobby inits.; 30. Slightly open; 31. Mrs. Dithers in “Blondie”; 32. Catch sight of; 33. Cheryl of TV’s “Charlie’s Angels”; 34. On the high side, as a guess; 35. Couch; 41. Make a knight; 44. Follower of Oct.; 56. Minute part of a min.; 57. 251, in old Rome; 58. Neighbor of Switz.; 60. Carps, carps, carps; 61. Part of Q.E.D.; 61. “___ Tu” (1974 hit).