Creating America's Super Highways

Tom Vanderbilt reviews The Big Roads by Earl Swift, subtitled "The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways."

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways" Swift tells the story of the creation of the Interstate Highway System by focusing on a handful of personalities.

Vanderbilt writes:

"The highway builders tended to be conservative, ramrod-straight men who, as one wit once put it to me, had the whiff of concrete and polyester about them. But Swift commendably humanizes them, drawing out their polyvalent selves and hinting at their contradictions."

Most people think that the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was the catalyst for the creation of the system, but Swift points to the 1921 Federal Highway Act as the true beginnings.

Full Story: Inventing the Interstate

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