American open roads are one of the major symbols of this country, and through popular culture, i.e. through movies, songs and books they established themselves as good places for a getaway or clearing up your mind and kill some stress while randomly wandering around.

open-roadMusic from the radio and long stretches of open roads are a dream for many people and it is easy to see why that is so – the sense of freedom that you get when there is no one for miles around and when your rooftop is down so you can scream as loud as you want surely does sound attractive. However, all of this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the brave pioneers who started the car fever in United States and who had the enthusiasm to built such a complex system of roads, as we have it now, ad who left us with only “the maintenance job” and the luxury of driving along those highways with no worry in the world.

If we want to look at historical development of something, then we usually go from the earliest moment, or to the start, and the start of the American highway system can be attributed to early years of the 20th century. That was the time when the expansion in car numbers was happening and the overall development of industry and society demanded better connectivity and faster transportation. Efficiency certainly was important, no doubt about it, but there was also an element of everyday enjoyment and personal satisfaction, since those years marked a giant boom in the numbers of personal automobiles.

865fe2fd14ae2d3426a6eee9f9b04a05Henry Ford was mostly responsible for this fact, since his system of production enabled cheaper and faster vehicles, and this resulted in a real shopping fever. His super-popular product, called “Model T” marked a proper mini-revolution in United States and very quickly this car was everywhere (16.5 million pieces of “Model T” have been sold America by 1972). Better cars demanded better roads and with the rise in numbers of the cars it was not impossible to avoid this question anymore.

In this period, interstate highways and other roads where of a very bad quality, but another problem was the usage of various names that marked certain roads. To be more precise, there was more than 250 named US highways in that period, with famous names like “The Lincoln Highway”, “Santa Fe Trail”, “Dixie Overland Highway”, “The Old Spanish Trail”, “Pikes Peak Highway” and many, many more.

This caused confusion and the lawmakers decided to change that and enforce a uniformed system of numbers and signs which could make traveling easier and a lot of unnecessary confusion would be avoided. This was done by 1925 Federal Highway Act which regulated the matter and introduced numbers on the recognizable shield sign.

Interstate Highway System

An important step forward when it comes to US highway system happened in June 1956, when president Dwight Eisenhower enacted a new version of the Federal Highway Act which marked the creation of a 41-mile network of interstate highways and provided a budget of $26 billion. Due to this decision, we now have 250 million trucks and cars on the 46.000 miles long network of highways and we can get from point A to point B through a safe and efficient system.