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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Americans Adopt the Auto Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s People on the Move Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction Grand Plan Stop the Bulldozers! A New World for America's Auto Culture The Interstate Economy See the U.S.A. Crawl and Sprawl Safety
On the Interstate

 I-10, 1956–1990

As you come to the Interstate section, a variety of vehicles are sitting on the highway, each representing a different story. If you visit the museum you can touch both asphalt and concrete samples. A Honda Civic, a Peterbilt truck, a Dodge minivan, and a Pontiac Grand Prix are sitting in traffic on the road. A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer has one line of traffic blocked off. Explore the ways that the interstates changed commerce, travel, and where we live.

View from the exhibition
View from the exhibition

A Nation of Highways

In 1956, after decades of debate and planning, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, and the interstate network was born. The 41,000-mile system was designed to reach every city with a population of more than 100,000. Mostly completed by the 1990s, at a cost of more than $100 billion, this gargantuan public undertaking was designed for fast and safe road travel. The interstates have profoundly changed American landscapes and lives, and the way business is conducted. Interstates chopped up cities and bypassed existing roadside businesses, created new kinds of cities and suburbs, and boosted industry and commerce.

I-10 sweeps almost 2,500 miles across the southern United States from Jacksonville, Florida, to Santa Monica, California. It helped shape some of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, including Houston and Phoenix, into sprawling, automobile-dependent metropolises. It is the principal truck route connecting Los Angeles ports with the rest of the nation. And as with many interstates, local interests forced changes in its proposed route in several cities, including San Antonio and New Orleans.

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