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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about...the United States Interstate Highway System.


CURWOOD: Forty years ago just outside of Topeka, Kansas, a ribbon cutting ceremony kicked off one of the most profound social changes in US history. A small stretch of Interstate 70 was opened to the public. It was the very first section of what would become the nation's Interstate Highway system. President Dwight Eisenhower created the massive freeway system to increase America's mobility. Cars, trucks, and buses were beginning to clog the nation's streets. He also wanted a means to move people quickly out of cities, hoping to give the nation a better chance of better survival in case of nuclear attack. President Eisenhower succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. In 1950 less than a quarter of the nation's population lived in the suburbs. Today almost half of us live in single-family homes with large yards, instead of it tightly knit city neighborhoods. The corner store and small town centers have given way to malls and giant chain stores. And the growth of sprawl is still not over. As of last year, there were 53 more miles of Interstate Highway yet to be completed. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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