JF Ptak Science Books Post 1346
"A Paved United States in Our Day"
If the planners of this highway had a crystal ball to see deep into the future--say, 1955--they would have been horrified to see the errors in their ways. The equivalent of this plan might be something like picking up the Beltway, straightening it out, and running it through D.C. along 16th street, with massive flyovers for the White House and other associated et ceteras. This idea was published in an odd source, published by the Pennsylvania Railway Company/Lee Highway Association/National Highway Association auspices and the Hudson River Bridge and Terminal Association in about 1925, or thereabouts, just prior to the construction of the George Washington Bridge in NYC.
The plan was for a six lane ("six-way") motorway from New York to Washington, starting with the Lee Highway (or King's Highway, Route 1, one of the south's oldest roads, and part of what was supposed to be a national autotrail connecting New York with San Francisco) and taking that highway across the proposed Arlington Bridge (called Lincoln-Lee here, without irony), up New York Avenue to the ellipse, rounding the White House, going down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, and then out again to Baltimore and NYC. Another version called for the highway to go across Key Bridge, dumping everything in Georgetown, hooking right on M Street to Pennsylvania and on out again. Having lived in D.C.(with my store in Georgetown) for 29 years, I can say without fear of ____ that this would ave been a massively bad idea then and in every decade since then, and probably would have been removed by 1960 just to recognize and correct the sheer, overwhelming badness of its conception. (The original of this map is available for purchase from our blog bookstore.)
The Memorial Bridge wound up being pretty close to this design--lacking the statuary, especially--and is quite a beautiful thing, especially when the designs for its rivals were considered. The bridges in DC are almost all lovely, or at least those built before 1950.