Interstate Highway Act

(1956)

Context

The 1950s were a time of nuclear families, suburbia, television, the cold war, the baby boom, and rock-and-roll music. Not since the 1920s had the United States experienced such a marked growth in the economy. With the end of World War II, soldiers and sailors returned home to take advantage of the GI Bill, which provided money for veterans to attend college. Returning military personnel also settled down and started families, creating the baby boom, a period of increasing birth rates. In 1954 alone over four million babies were born in the United States.

As the economy and population grew, so did the number of car owners in America. The government had noticed a need for a regulated series of highways as early as 1916 and authorized $75 million dollars for new roads. State governments were supposed to match the funding dollar for dollar, but many could not. A similar bill passed again in 1921, and in 1938 the Senate rejected a bill that would have created toll roads....

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The Interstate Highway Act (National Archives and Records Administration)

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