Petersen Archive | Dwight D Eisenhower — Petersen Automotive Museum

Raymond S. Hughes

The postwar period was a time defined by unprecedented prosperity. Following the 2nd Planet War, returning GI’s arrived dwelling to a booming overall economy, housing progress assignments, and support systems like the GI Invoice that expanded and cemented America’s center course. By 1950 most factories, together with vehicle companies, had produced the transition from wartime manufacturing to a buyer-based mostly financial system, so substantially so that, in that 12 months alone, 8 million cars and trucks were generated, by 1958 extra than 67 million autos would be generated and registered in the United States. On the other hand, at the start of the decade, most of America’s out of date streets were being in no affliction to support a substantial inflow of targeted traffic. Pressure for design of transcontinental superhighways experienced been expanding given that the late 1930s, even so, conflict involving urban passions and rural passions vying for priority and a absence of funding left early assignments these as the 1944 Federal-Support Freeway Act useless in the h2o. By the 1950’s, in get to regulate an inflow of new vehicle entrepreneurs president Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly supported an interstate highway improvement system and on June 29, 1956, he signed the Highway Profits Act also identified as the Countrywide Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law. The act marked the most significant American community works application of that time authorizing the design of 41,000 miles of interstate highways fitted with overpasses and limited-accessibility belt traces. Eisenhower experienced been closely influenced by his encounters in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army&#39s to start with Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States and his observations of the German audubon highway community in the course of Environment War II. Possessing acknowledged the worth of mobility and efficiency, Eisenhower proposed an American interstate freeway technique in his State of the Union deal with in 1954, which he framed as a nationwide defense application. In an work to really encourage a cooperative alliance amongst state and federal officials, retired Common Lucius D. Clay, an engineer and a extended-time advisor to the president, proposed a program in which the federal governing administration would pay out 90 p.c of the value of expressway construction the funding for which would come from an improved gasoline tax (now 3 cents a gallon). Interstate resources were to then be dispersed in the ratio of each individual point out&#39s estimated cost of finishing the method. The initial challenge less than the Act was the Mark Twain Expressway (Interstate 70) in St. Charles County, Missouri.

The highways ended up supposed to remove visitors congestion change “undesirable slum places with pristine ribbons of concrete” as one particular highway advocate put it make coastline-to-coastline transportation far more efficient and make it uncomplicated to evacuate massive towns in case of an atomic assault. Though transformative, the Highway Revenue Act also mirrored an enduring legacy of Jim Crow era discriminatory insurance policies and systemic racism. Reduced-cost mortgages by the G.I. Invoice (which was not provided to black GI’s), enabled white people to abandon interior metropolitan areas in favor of suburban housing as very well as prevent ethnic minorities from undertaking the exact same. Federal planners of the interstate highway system routed some highways instantly, and frequently purposefully, via predominantly black and brown neighborhoods to predominantly white suburban neighborhoods. Whilst the Freeway Revenue Act was initially met with common general public guidance, as much more people today grew to become displaced and problems in towns deteriorated, activists began to openly oppose the procedure, some heading as significantly as forcing construction stoppages throughout the late 1950s and early 60s. In the course of the 1960s, civil rights activists and environmentalists throughout the place in New York Metropolis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. New Orleans and other cities managed to prevent roadbuilders from dividing and subjugating their neighborhoods, finally nevertheless, most of the 41,000 miles of interstate were being concluded.

Sources:

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/historical past/minute/Federal_Highway_Act.htm#:~:textual content=On%20June%2026%2C%201956%2C%20the,Eisenhower%20signed%20it%20into%20legislation.

https://www.npr.org/2021/04/07/984784455/a-temporary-record-of-how-racism-formed-interstate-highways

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

https://highways.dot.gov/general public-streets/summer time-1996/federal-aid-highway-act-1956-producing-interstate-system

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