Faculty Advisor(s)

Jennifer Black



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The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 was a much needed piece of legislation that provided the nation an integrated interstate system while also quelling the atomic anxiety that was rampant during the early years of the atomic age. Atomic and communist anxiety was the lynchpin that allowed for interstate legislation to garner support from the American people and federal government. The connection between the interstate system and civilian defense first adopted by President Eisenhower in 1955 as a serious matter accomplished two important tasks. It allowed for the American people to accept increased taxes and allowed the federal government to increase funding based on national security. The unintended consequences of the National Interstate and Civilian Defense Act of 1956 were many. Most notably, the American people's relationship with the open road was forever altered. Leisurely backroad drives which defined open road culture were replaced by the tedium of interstate driving as the road became incorporate with the gray flannel suit of corporate America.

Publication Date


Document Type



History, Government, Law & National Security


Interstate, Atomic Anxiety, National Defense, Open Road


United States History

Atomic Anxiety and the Interstate