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Question

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

Part 1: The following documents address the social, political, and economic impact of the Federal Interstate Highway System. Examine each document carefully. Answer the question or questions about each.

Document A

“7 Superhighway Plan Runs into Aldermanic Ire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, February 17, 1940.

1. Why would the citizens and committee members oppose the construction of the superhighway?

(Answer: Displacement of homes and businesses would negatively affect minorities and small business owners.)

2. According to the map in Document A, how would the new highway system affect the businesses in the areas designated for highway construction?

(Answer: Older businesses and homes would be displaced; new businesses and communities would be created.)
Document B

Telegram from a Chicago businessman to President Harry S. Truman, dated September 19, 1948.

1. Identify and describe the groups that will be affected by the construction of the superhighway mentioned in Document B.

(Answer: Low-income people, small businesses, disabled veterans.)

2. According the author of Document B, how will the Chicagoans be affected by the construction of the superhighway?

(Answer: Displacement of homes and businesses.)
Document C

Photograph of the first project made possible by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.

1. According to Document C, what was the purpose of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956?

(Answer: To build highways connecting the states.)

2. What was the potential impact of the project depicted in Document C?

(Answer: Urban decline, suburban growth, and a transformed landscape: land cleared, buildings demolished, bridges built, roads dictating the location of construction.)
Document D

This is an advertisement for a Howard Johnson's Restaurant and Motor Lodge. As the Interstate System expanded, more and more lodging was built along the highways.

1. Who is the targeted audience for this advertisement?

(Answer: The traditional family.)

2. How were businesses affected by the Interstate System?

(Answer: The growth of interstates led to the growth of businesses along them.)
Document E

This is a poster protesting a beltway around Washington, D.C.

1. How does this document relate to Document B?

(Answer: There was disruption in the lives of the affected group.)

2. What was the underlying message of the document?

(Answer: The Interstate Highway System benefited white Americans at the expense of African Americans.)
Document F

This is a photograph of traffic on an interstate in the early 1960s.

1. What are the implied social and environmental effects in Document F?

(Answer: Degradation of air quality; people spending more time in their cars.)
Part 2: Essay

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