New York State Road Networks and the Transformation of American Federalism

Michael R. Fein Ph.D., Johnson & Wales University - Providence

This book chapter appears in: Gijs Mom and Laurent Tissot (eds.), Road History. Planning, Building and Use. Neuchâtel, Alphil Editions, 2006.


Scholars have long recognized the central role American road building has played in the development of modern European highway networks. While the German autobahn and the Italian autostrade were pivotal in twentieth-century construction, Americans’ pioneering work in urban parkways and interstate highways also offered an appealing model. From the perspective of European transportation planners, Americans embraced road building with exceptional gusto. Little seemed to stand in the way of their engineers, whose actions – at least until the 1960s – appeared to perfectly mirror public desire.