Smithsonian

DBQ: Impact of the Development of the Federal Interstate Highway System

Historical Context

Before World War II, the United States depended on a disjointed system of interlinking federal and state secondary highways. By 1940, cities began to address suburban growth by building interlinking freeways and beltways. With the construction of the Interstate Highway System, the United States began the process of linking geographic regions. This brought about changes in American business, culture, and landscape. To this day the merits of the Interstate Highway System are debated on the basis of the social, economic, and political impact it has had on America's growth and development.

Directions

The following question is based on the accompanying documents (A–F). As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of the document and the author's point of view. Be sure to:

  1. Carefully read the document-based question. Consider what you already know about this topic. How would you answer the question if you had no documents to examine?
  2. Carefully read each document, underlining key phrases and words that address the question. You may wish to use the margin to make brief notes. Answer the questions that follow each document.
  3. On the basis of your own knowledge and the information found in the documents, formulate a thesis that directly answers the question.
  4. Organize supportive and relevant information into a brief outline.
  5. Write a well-organized essay proving your thesis. The essay should be logically presented and should include information both from the documents and from your own knowledge outside of the documents.

Question

Assess the social, political, and economic impact of the development of the Federal Interstate Highway System from 1940 to the mid-1960s.

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