Games Learning Resources Visit the Museum
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
16: On the Interstate:  I-10, 1956–1990

Stop the Bulldozers!

In the interstates’ early years, most of the public eagerly awaited the broad, safe new roads. But by the mid-1960s, public concerns over the environment and disruption of neighborhoods forced the federal and state government to include social and environmental impact in their calculations. In 1973, these concerns brought changes that channeled federal highway funds to mass transit, bikeways, and pedestrian walkways as well as highways.

Santa Monica Freeway, 1965
Santa Monica Freeway, 1965
Many local governments saw the interstate program as an answer to urban transportation problems. New roads, they believed, would increase economic growth. But roads in urban areas sometimes ran up against community resistance. A few were never built; some were reshaped by community input.
Washington, D.C., protest poster, drawn by Sammie Abbott, late 1960s
Community groups successfully protested a proposed interstate that
would have taken traffic through Washington, D.C
Washington, D.C., protest poster, drawn by Sammie Abbott, late 1960s
Proposed Design for Papago Freeway (I-10) interchange, Phoenix, 1968
Proposed Design for Papago Freeway (I-10) interchange, Phoenix, 1968
Papago Freeway (I-10) as built, Phoenix, 1991
Papago Freeway (I-10) as built, Phoenix, 1991

In the 1960s, Arizona state officials planned to run I-10 through the middle of downtown Phoenix, and they designed a stack of access and egress ramps. Locals opposed the design and, in 1973, voted to stop the road’s construction. State highway planners returned to the drawing board. The new plan took into account archaeological sites and historic buildings along the route. A key part of the road was routed underground and covered with new public parkland. The public voted to approve the construction plans in 1979.

Continue
National Museum of American History About This Site | Sponsors | Buy the Book | E-mail Signup | Credits