What's more iconic of American freedom than our interstate highway system? Well most people probably don't realize that when a young Lt. Dwight Eisenhower traveled in the first transcontinental military convoy from Washington, DC, to San Francisco in 1919 the trip took two months. After that experience, and his observation of the German roads during World War II, one of the most important acts of his presidency was pushing for and funding our modern interstate highway system that facilitates the transportation of people and goods from sea to shining sea. But that was the culmination of many years of planning...
Legend has it that the Interstate began with President Roosevelt drawing three lines East and West and three lines North and South on a map of the United States and asking the Bureau of Public Roads to build it. That probably is a legend but I have no doubt that the President did draw those lines on a map as we shall see.
The first formal inquiry into the possibility of building an Interstate system goes back to Section 13 of the Federal Highway Act of 1938 which states..."The Chief of the Bureau of Public Roads is hereby directed to investigate and make a report of his findings and recommend feasibility of building, and cost of, super highways not exceeding three in number, running in a general direction from the eastern to the western portion of the United States, and not exceeding three in number, running from the northern to the southern portion of the United States, including the feasibility of a toll system on such roads."
The rest is history, and the vision for the system eventually to the more than 45,000 miles of roads we have today.