A New Era of National Planning?
"'The great paradox of national planning,' muses historian Robert Fishman, 'is that Americans have practiced it so successfully while continually claiming it doesn't exist.' In his provocative article '1808 - 1908 - 2008 - National Planning for America' Fishman describes three episodes of national planning.
1808 was the year of Albert Gallatin's Report on Roads and Canals, a Federal government report that Fishman argues remains 'a model of long-term strategic thinking tied to national policy.' The plan clearly identified a set of key infrastructure investments for the Federal government, and related these investments to what were perhaps the two most important policy goals - distributing vast western lands to small farmers, and provide for the transportation links to connect these hinterlands with the east. Written before the railroad, the plan proposed a bold system of highways and canals. Although implementation took nearly a hundred years, many of these connections were ultimately built by the turn of the century."