Building America’s Superhighways

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Earl Swift discusses how the U.S. interstate system changed the face of our country. The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways  follows a winding route through 20th-century American life, from the citizen-led “Good Roads” movement, to the driven engineers who conceived of the interstates and how they would work, to the protests that erupted when highways reached the cities, displaced people and carved up neighborhoods.


Earl Swift

Comments [8]

Andy from Nebraska (for now)

Not a complaint here, just to inform you: the podcast of this segment currently begins right after the commercial break that usually resides in the middle of your 4th segment. The first half of the segment is not available, at least at this time. You may want to address that and repost it. Or not. It is a free service, after all, so beggars and choosers...

Looking forward to listening to the whole segment on what I am certain is a very interesting topic (as an engineer, I'm very interested in these things). Keep up the great work that you guys do every day on the LL Show and elsewhere on WNYC.

Aug. 10 2011 09:48 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Robert Moses didn't build without public transit considerations--he built with negative ones. He specifically had the bridges built over the Long Island Expressway too low to let buses fit under them, so the "animals" from the city who couldn't afford their own cars couldn't get out there.

Aug. 09 2011 02:05 PM
JD Reynolds from Connecticut

Come on. The railroad could never work for passenger traffic without very heavy subsidies, well beyond the costs of the Highway system. 3 or 4 western states are bigger than all of Western Europe!

Aug. 09 2011 01:58 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

There was no conspiracy to get rid of trains, but did the composition of the gas tax not help cars and roads over tracks and trains?

Aug. 09 2011 01:53 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How did the "auto trails" come to be called "highways"? What about "parkways"?

Aug. 09 2011 01:39 PM
Thadeus from Elizabeth, NJ

Ego and greed led us down the garden path to highways over trains and mass transit. What if Moses and the rest were not in bed with the oil industy?

Aug. 09 2011 01:32 PM
Patrick from Newark, NJ

Wasn't this effort an economical ruse to soften the blow of a post war economy? Where would the country have been without this "stimulus?"

Aug. 09 2011 12:48 PM

Can Mr. Swift answer why so many highway builders (Robert Moses most notably) during the 20th century never built with public transit considerations?

And why did builders seem to not integrate the grid system and cities in their plans? Why did sprawl become so appealing?

Aug. 09 2011 12:23 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.