The Interstate Highway System was one of America’s most revolutionary infrastructure projects. It also destroyed urban neighborhoods across the nation.
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The 48,000 miles of interstate highway that would be paved across the country during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s were a godsend for many rural communities. But those highways also gutted many cities, with whole neighborhoods torn down or isolated by huge interchanges and wide ribbons of asphalt. Wealthier residents fled to the suburbs, using the highways to commute back in by car. That drained the cities’ tax bases and hastened their decline.
So why did cities help build the expressways that would so profoundly decimate them?
The answer involves a mix of self-interested industry groups, design choices made by people far away, a lack of municipal foresight, and outright institutional racism.
Read more on Vox: https://www.vox.com/2015/5/14/8605917/highways-interstate-cities-history
And see before-and-after maps of how highways changed cities like Cincinnati, Detroit, and Minneapolis: https://www.vox.com/2014/12/29/7460557/urban-freeway-slider-maps
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