Significant events in the 20th century
A lot of events took place in the past 20th century that has made a huge impact on the American people whether it was social, economic, or political. The American people have been affected in so many ways over the past 20th century that one can only wonder just how much more we can withstand. In this essay I have chosen an event from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that I feel has been a major impact for our country.
The 1956 Highway Act had both economic and social impacts. Its existence facilitated the growth of suburban communities tied to urban areas by both the highway itself and, quite often, by commuter light rail construction that followed in its wake. Suburban living mandated automobile ownership to a greater extent than did its urban counterpart. Annual auto sale figures rose inexorably for decades. Local transportation models changes. Railroad construction came virtually to a halt, as trucks, using the interstate system as a nexus, brought rail-transported products directly to retail outlets.
Selling the idea of an interstate system was no easy task for President Eisenhower and his staff. Many city officials were skeptical, anticipating that roadways circumventing downtown areas would reduce business income in downtown areas. A major selling point was civil defense: major highway systems would permit evacuation in the event of nuclear war – the name of the legislation was changed to ‘National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. This was always a will-o-the-wisp, although the New Orleans experience during Hurricane Katrina points to the value of major highways as escape routes, at least those willing and able to use them. In amy event, opposing highway construction was made to appear unpatriotic.
While development of the interstate system certainly proved to be a net economic plus, it came at a cost. A number of traditional areas were disfigured. At a more personal level, many Americans never...