The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways
Earl Swift brings to light the visionaries who created these essential highways ...more
The Big Roads is an excellent piece of non-fiction about a topic that many people, despite its staggering scale and obvious relevance to modern life, might find a bi ...more
Obviously, we had roads before we had cars and trucks, but even with those vehicles becoming the primary means of transportation we lacked the roads that would make them as useful as they could be. You could run cars on dirt roads ...more
From when I was a child, my father explained to me that even number freeways go east/west & odd number ones go north/south. Ever since then, I've been aware of the massiveness of concrete that stretches in ever ...more
But, did you ever wonder where they came from? If you thought it had anything to do with Eisenhower, you'd be mostly wrong! The planning, research, and groundwork for what would become the Eisenhower interstate system was already well in place when ol' Ike putted his way into the White House. In fact, he wasn't even aware of its existence. So much for that.
This book is about the tireless folks who ARE responsible for the biggest public ...more
I was surprised to learn that the idea of a interstate highway system, and much of the route planning, long pre-dated the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, during which the act of Congress that funded the project. Probably the most influential person behind the details of the project was Thomas Harris MacDonald, an engineer who spent decades working for the federal government. President Franklin Roosevelt had requested a plan for interstates in the late 1930s. MacDonald's plan, given in respo...more
Wrong. Wrong, Wrong.
In fact, pre-WWII, bureaucrats in FDR’s government crafted the basic ideas, both in terms of routes, and safety/engineering, that became today’s interstates.
That’s just one of many things you’ll learn. (Another is that, in terms of refusal to do in-depth policy reading, Ike was the Ronnie Reagan of his day.)
You’ll learn about how, already by ...more
“The Big Roads" is an informative albeit at times tedious read about the history of the development of the American Superhighways. The book focuses more on the politics and the key people behind the construction instead of the technical challenges involved. This instructive 401-page includes twenty-two chapters and is broken out into the following four parts: 1. Out ...more
In the last half of the 20th century, interstate highways bisected Iowa north to south and east t ...more
This was an interesting read about the history of improved roads starting just before the turn of the 20th century and following through to the Interstate Highway system of today. The author covers a number of intertwined topics such as the development of the automobile and various features, key figures (engineers and politicians) in the development of improved roads, and the social impact of highways in urban areas. Though the subject could be fairly dr ...more
Most people seem to think that the US Interstate system was devised and begun during the Eisenhower administration. It was Eisenhower who approved and began the billions dollar project but planning had begun years before, as the automobile designs improved and costs went down, and people-in-cars took to the roads. At first, cars were used ...more
How did we get from muddy, almost impassable dirt ruts/roads to superhighways? It's a lot of interesting planning and personalities as automobiles emerge and begin to complete with horse and carriage. Everyone loved the idea of fast, safe, reliable interstate highways, but they didn't want to pay f ...more
This book presents the interstates as an obvious growth out of earlier plans for national road systems. Each step logically followed and the technocrats (I say that in a non-disparaging way) who work ...more
For a book that appears to be about the USA's Interstate Highway system this book throws a bit of a curveball by spending probably half its length talking about the development of the automobile, the early highway associations, and the US Highway system. Except that curveball is exactly the author's point: today we often look at the superhighways with a skewed idea of how they came about and how they are ...more
When I was in high school, computers (what we now call "mainframes") were well on their way of transforming how business and science was done (government took some time). I got interested in computers, and my professional life has been tied to the growth and impact of this technology.
When my dad was in high school, aviation and automobiles were well on their way of transforming peoples lives and the world we lived in. He got interested in aviation, and his ...more
Swift wrote for newspapers in St. Louis, Anchorage and, for twenty-two years, in Norfolk, where his long-form features won numerous state and national aw ...more