The history of the American Interstate before President Eisenhower

An excerpt from a new book, The Big Roads by Earl Swift, suggests the link between President Dwight Eisenhower and the American Interstate System is limited as the plans had been laid during the FDR administration and Eisenhower simply helped put together the Federal financing.

There is little doubt that the Interstate Act of 1956 was important as the Federal government promised a large percentage of the funding for new roads that would connect metropolitan areas. But students of American highways already know that highway planning and construction had already taken place before Eisenhower signed this bill:

-The Long Island Motor Parkway was a private highway opened in 1908 and later transferred to the State of New York.

-Robert Moses is renowned for his efforts to introduce highways to the New York City area.

-The Pennsylvania Turnpike was built across the state (with the first part opening in 1940) and other states, such as Ohio and Indiana, built roads to connect to this.

-In the Chicago area, highway planning had begun in the 1930s and several of the major highways, including the Congress Expressway (now I-290), the East-West Tollway (now I-88),  and the Tri-State Tollway (now I-294), were primarily built by the state and completed before 1960.

-There was a motorways commission formed in 1930 that that produced a framework for American highways.

Regarding highways, there was a lot that took place before Eisenhower became President and I may have to check out this book to see how it tells this story.

8 thoughts on “The history of the American Interstate before President Eisenhower

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