Burnham and Eisenhower: Ideas from 1908 Implemented in 1956

Yuri Gama

Plan of Chicago, Plate 112, Michigan Ave
In 1956, Eisenhower signed the Highway Act which allowed the construction of the Expressway System in the United States. By 1980, the massive construction developed throughout the whole country was completed. Beyond deciding who was gonna pay, and all the different forms of financing, defining the routes of the Interstates was one of the most polemic subjects discussed during these 30 years. Urban Historians Raymond Mohl, and Mark Rose constantly emphasize the fact that Interstates routes had as its main goal to interconnect cities. Thus, all roads needed to reach every city’s Downtown. In order to transform Downtown, urban planners and cities’ politicians chose poor neighborhoods as the specific area to be destroyed.
In this sense, African-Americans communities attached to every Downtown were constantly the target of the Interstates’ routes due to the fact of being the cheapest places to be invaded and modified by the government. However, being cheap…

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About J. Chambliss

Julian Chambliss is professor of History and coordinator of the Africa and African-American Studies program at Rollins College in Orlando, Florida. With research, teaching, and service centered real and imaginary urban spaces, he is an interdisciplinary scholar and award-winning teacher. He has designed digital humanities projects to investigate community and document black culture in the United States. Follow him on Twitter @JulianChambliss.
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