Monday, May 13, 2013

History of Highway in America

The vast American highway system has many ancestors – the paths of animals, Indians, stockmen, pioneers, merchants and the army. Most of the trails grew unplanned; many were to leave their permanent mark on the land.

The oldest highway in America dates to January 1673, when a post rider delivered mail from New York City to Boston.

Benjamin Franklin, then deputy postmaster, established a system of postal roads, as mail service was an extremely important means of communication in those days.

Eventually, a system of post roads connected the major cities in the thirteen colonies. The earliest scheme for designing and building a proper road was the turnpike, a road opened to passage by the turning of a spiked gate after the traveler had paid the toll.

The practice of charging a toll originated in England and quickly spread in the northeastern United States. 

The best known and most successful, the Lancaster Turnpike, extended form Philadelphia to Lancaster in Pennsylvania.

In 1825, the US government surveyed a new pioneer trail from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and paid the Osage Indian for the right to cross their land. However, the Pawnees and Comaches had claims to the same land, and west bound migrants routinely came under attack.

The growing numbers of automobiles and the expansion of cities into nearby suburbs in the early part of the century created the need for specialized roadways.

The first real attempt at an intercontinental highway was the so-called Lincoln Highway designed to span the distance between New York and San Francisco, traversing 3,384 miles in thirteen states.

Portions were first opened for travel in 1915, and the route achieved true national proportions by the 1920s.

In 1956, Congress authorized full funding of the interstate highway program. Over the next 24 years, state highway departments built 12,377 miles of freeway in United States cities and metropolitan areas.

In 2000 the highway system in the United States was 40 percent longer than that of the systems in twenty-five European states combined; today there are almost 4 million miles of paved and unpaved roads in the United States.
History of Highway in America
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