Petersen Archive | Dwight D Eisenhower — Petersen Automotive Museum

The postwar era was a time outlined by unprecedented prosperity. Following the Second Globe War, returning GI’s came household to a booming overall economy, housing enhancement initiatives, and assist programs like the GI Monthly bill that expanded and cemented America’s middle course. By 1950 most factories, including auto manufacturers, experienced produced the changeover from wartime manufacturing to a consumer-dependent economy, so a lot so that, in that 12 months by yourself, 8 million automobiles have been generated, by 1958 extra than 67 million vehicles would be made and registered in the United States. Nevertheless, at the start off of the decade, most of America’s out of date streets were in no affliction to assist a huge influx of targeted traffic. Force for design of transcontinental superhighways had been developing considering that the late 1930s, nevertheless, conflict in between urban pursuits and rural interests vying for precedence and a absence of funding left early initiatives this sort of as the 1944 Federal-Assist Freeway Act lifeless in the water. By the 1950’s, in get to handle an inflow of new vehicle owners president Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly supported an interstate highway development plan and on June 29, 1956, he signed the Freeway Profits Act also regarded as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into legislation. The act marked the greatest American public works system of that time authorizing the design of 41,000 miles of interstate highways fitted with overpasses and constrained-access belt traces. Eisenhower experienced been intensely motivated by his ordeals in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army&#39s first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States and his observations of the German audubon freeway network during Entire world War II. Acquiring acknowledged the importance of mobility and efficiency, Eisenhower proposed an American interstate freeway technique in his Point out of the Union deal with in 1954, which he framed as a countrywide defense method. In an effort and hard work to encourage a cooperative alliance involving point out and federal officers, retired Standard Lucius D. Clay, an engineer and a prolonged-time advisor to the president, proposed a system in which the federal federal government would shell out 90 per cent of the cost of expressway construction the funding for which would occur from an amplified gasoline tax (now 3 cents a gallon). Interstate money were to then be dispersed in the ratio of every state&#39s believed charge of finishing the system. The to start with project beneath the Act was the Mark Twain Expressway (Interstate 70) in St. Charles County, Missouri.

The highways had been intended to do away with targeted traffic congestion replace “undesirable slum places with pristine ribbons of concrete” as a single freeway advocate put it make coast-to-coast transportation extra effective and make it simple to evacuate large metropolitan areas in situation of an atomic assault. Whilst transformative, the Freeway Revenue Act also reflected an enduring legacy of Jim Crow era discriminatory insurance policies and systemic racism. Small-price home loans via the G.I. Monthly bill (which was not supplied to black GI’s), enabled white households to abandon interior towns in favor of suburban housing as well as prevent ethnic minorities from performing the very same. Federal planners of the interstate highway program routed some highways instantly, and generally purposefully, by means of predominantly black and brown neighborhoods to predominantly white suburban neighborhoods. Despite the fact that the Highway Income Act was initially achieved with common general public support, as more persons grew to become displaced and circumstances in cities deteriorated, activists began to openly oppose the process, some heading as much as forcing construction stoppages all through the late 1950s and early 60s. In the course of the 1960s, civil legal rights activists and environmentalists across the place in New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. New Orleans and other metropolitan areas managed to stop roadbuilders from dividing and subjugating their neighborhoods, finally nonetheless, most of the 41,000 miles of interstate have been finished.

Resources:

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/record/moment/Federal_Freeway_Act.htm#:~:textual content=On%20June%2026%2C%201956%2C%20the,Eisenhower%20signed%20it%20into%20regulation.

https://www.npr.org/2021/04/07/984784455/a-quick-heritage-of-how-racism-shaped-interstate-highways

https://www.theatlantic.com/small business/archive/2016/03/purpose-of-highways-in-american-poverty/474282/

https://highways.dot.gov/public-streets/summer season-1996/federal-support-freeway-act-1956-making-interstate-program