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tv   Reel America Freedom of the American Road - 1955  CSPAN  August 15, 2018 11:21pm-11:51pm EDT

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it allowed me to know, that i can negotiate with the best of them. >> in the weeks ahead we are going to hear from helen bentley, barb mcanally, nancy johnson and lynn mobley. watch oral history at 10 am eastern on american history. coming up next, real america. a look at the push for road and highway construction in the 1950s. freedom of the american road is a half hour ford motor company film from 1955. with opening remarks by henry ford the second. who introduces the ford company study of the nation's road problems and calls for individual citizens to help solve those issues. it is narrated by the voice of the march of time radio and tv newsreel series.
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i am henry ford the second. in recent years, there has been a lot of talk about our highway situation. so much has been said that i feel a great many of you may have wondered as i did, whether there was anything a private citizen could do about a problem so big? that is why we decided to study the situation. the results are published in this book. we call it, freedom of the american road. simply because we americans like plenty of elbowroom. freedom to come and go as we please and be in this big country of ours.
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the first thing that we have found, was that you can't talk about highways without talking about traffic, and safe driving. we have found, that there are many experienced highway and traffic safety experts, who are doing a great service to the public. what they need, is public understanding and support. but the most important thing that we discovered, was that they already have many private citizens in states and communities across the nation who have gotten together to tackle their local problems with real success. we present a few of their stories in this motion picture. we do so with pride, for as it seems to me real democracy is an action. and now for a first-hand report let's go to our traffic safety and highway improvement department. an hour reporter mister van
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voorhees. in our first story when the community did about a dangerous local highway situation. with take you to fast-growing california. where a highway problem has multiplied with the increase of population. and of travel. this is san francisco. see how it is located on the northernmost tip of the peninsula. it's access from the north is the golden gate bridge. from the east, the bay bridge. and now we are looking south from downtown san francisco. with bay shore highway and the traffic on the peninsula. city after city for 30 miles is growing into each other on continuous land. let's go back to june 1951. the california highway police station at jefferson avenue a
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bay shore highway. >> redwood number four. 11 7090 bay shore highway boulevard. 1179 a bay shore and holiday -- highway boulevard. >> that is the police code for collision involving a fatality. as accidents pileup, they got a new name. blood he bay shore they called it. two lanes for that big rush hour traffic. 50,000 drivers all trying to get out of san francisco at the same time. and after the delay when you get past the area what is a man to do? but open up? make up for lost time. >> 1179 a bay shore and market narrow.
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>> 1179. somebody's number. some people decided that the police needed to keep a record of that. >> we have been trying to do the job, that the newspaper should be doing. keeping the community alert. we headlined the accident here and we published photographs. take a look at some of these. these were running over a 60 day period. here is an editorial by eleanor cogswell who's been writing them every couple of weeks. read the statistics and shutter. >> father and son killed a bay shore crash. three others injured. every time you're out with your children or half an hour late i start thinking of ambulances and accidents. >> the couple talked it over.
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they decided to do something about it. and a university professor wrote an open letter to the governor. and then sent it to the paper. >> dear mister governor, we have been rudely impacted by the traffic conditions a bay shore highway. we refer to it as suicide lane and murder road.>> the open letter was what paulson had been looking for. he reprinted it the next day on the front page. >> there appears to be no resignation about a condition that in lives -- endangers the lives of all of us. having just returned from a trip to chicago and new york, i thought to compare the driving in those communities with ours. nowhere did i see such reckless driving as can be seen on bay shore. governor, i do not know what i shall do when my children who are too young to drive now, will venture onto those california highways.>> the ball got rolling, and three hours after the paper hit the stands,
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the switchboard was swamped with calls. hundreds of letters poured in. the chamber of commerce called in an emergency meeting. editor cogswell kept punching away with the editorials. the times was keeping the pot boiling. almost overnight, highway commissioner peterson had five additional patrol cars out on bay shore. and each patrolmen put on, there was one death less than a month. reduced speed limits were posted at hazardous points. traffic lights were installed at dangerous intersections. minor access roads were closed. no left turn lien -- no left
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turn lanes hit and the headlines continued without let up. >> in 50 days, death and injuries have dropped from 67 to 38. an accident from 110 to 65. the campaign kept gathering momentum. and the chamber of commerce started to get the signed petitions for extending the bayshore freeway.>> the people got the idea that in addition to better traffic control, they needed to solve the basic problems of badly overloaded highways. radio and tv stations in san francisco itself took up the campaign. petitions were circulated. at the hospital, they reported on the left there, trying to get the signatures of poor people, those injured in car crashes. the entire hospital staff signed up. a petition to expand the six
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lane freeway. sign here please. and they did. 30,000 of them. in the big towns and the small ones. in sunnyvale, mountain view, los altos hills, beaumont, all signed and sealed. ready to be delivered. two weeks later, a delegation presented the petitions to the governor. the public support is what the state officials needed and within 30 days the legislature acted. there it is. the new bayshore freeway. a highway of modern design. six lanes instead of four. one stretch of the american road made safer because the community took constructive action. >> what you've just seen was accomplished in 1952. but the job was not finished. it still goes on now. as a matter of fact what happened here in palo alto stimulated many areas for similar efforts. california now has a state
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highway program that is one of the most advanced in the nation. elsewhere, there are highway problems of another kind that have to be solved. like traffic congestion for example. have you ever been downtown in that 6:00 bumper-to-bumper man is called a traffic jam? it is worse in our older cities. for our report on how one big city is successfully solving it, let's go east across the country. to pittsburgh where the allegheny river joins. that is where pittsburgh was born 200 years ago. you're looking at what pittsburgh has called the point. the area where the rivers join to form a triangle. the golden triangle they call it. squeezed between two rivers. squeezed is the word all right. this simplifies downtown pittsburgh is a was 10 years ago. a maze of streets no wider than when it was just here.
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traffic experts and police arrange and rearrange the traffic time and again. but all they were actually doing was rearranging a nightmare. >> pittsburgh residents knew that traveling here cannot be solved without at the same time rebuilding the very heart of the city. the conference on community development went to work on the problem in 1953. the roster named every section of pittsburgh life. the steel industry and the unions, hines and company, department stores and the government of the city as well as the surrounding towns. the average pittsburgh person was thinking them. set -- but they began to be impressed by 1945. that was the year when the city realized there was a force behind the paperwork and plan.
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you cannot use halfway measures. a big problem needs a big answer. you tear down the old and put in new with modern muscle. with modern tools. but the big prime mover the got things going, bigger and more powerful than the crane, with people. members of the allegheny complex. they had the ingrown added to the resignation. from doubt that was so gigantic a change and they did get there. if you know pittsburgh, you will recognize this. it is the old downtown point district. gone now and no one to mourn for it. this is the plan for the new now coming to life. there is a new horizon now looking toward the allegheny. a new landscape and new powers. a new horizon.
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for the increase thousands of live downtown there are municipal parking garages going down six stories. you can park yourself and pick it up yourself going home. and you will. going out of town on the new expressways part of the same master plan for pittsburgh. you can drive smoothly and safely out of the city now. and so you can say that the american road as it goes to pittsburgh is being opened up. it is being made free. in palo alto, you saw how public support can solve the problem of a dangerous and overloaded highway. in pittsburgh, it was downtown traffic congestion that was strangling a great metropolitan area. now let's look at what reaction did for boston. boston is the hub of a very complex highway system. in new england, all roads lead to boston.
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in boston has kept going. swallowing the towns around it. today it's metropolitan area extends over 42 cities and towns. with a population of 2 1/2 million. once country roads served the outline community adequately. overnight they became city streets with traffic hopelessly entangled as you can see here. it became so bad that a trip of 15 miles became an hour long. at the state house, there was a highway on paper which could have alleviated all of that traffic congestion. but lack of public support kept it in the files. until the people of essex county got it out into the light of day. here you can see it on the map. highway 128. starting down at the old fishing port it sweat -- it
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swung in a wide arc. with its last section now nearing completion. today, john smith can lead his family in the morning and travel safely and quickly over modern expressed highway to stop. because new roads like magic arteries pumped increased values into the land. they now travel past property whose value has increased 100 times over. along this highway, they spotted seven great industrial centers occupied by some of the countries leading manufacturers. and other centers are now being developed. new wealth and revenue has come to the old new england town along the highway. and not to forget our mister smith, thousands more like him as well, there he is arriving at his place of work without once having to fight the boston
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traffic. when the people of essex county push for the construction, they didn't know they were going to reimburse the golden city circle. and that is what highway 128 has called today. the golden semicircle. so far you have seen what improved highways and traffic control me to a metropolitan area. but all good roads are part of one big pattern. the interstate system. it serves the whole nation. the great primary roads connect the cities and then the roads feed into the system. we need good secondary roads to serve the railroad population in small towns in america. for that story we go to north carolina now. why north carolina? only a few years ago, the rural population was far from the main highways. in what was called dirt road isolation. but then the people of north carolina decided on a bold road program.
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let's see how this investment is paying off. >> we are now in a typical farm home in north carolina. it is morning and the families day has begun. father and son are on their way. going into the farmers market and a factory job. daughter has a few seconds longer. everyone is on the move now. once life was lived pretty much around the farm. but now 21 dozen pounds of secondary roads connect the farm to a wider world. the old dirt road isolation has ended. north carolina's children no longer go to the old one-room country schoolhouse. nearly everyone in the state lives close to good new highways like this one. and good highways mean good school transportation systems.
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good roads mean that children from scattered farms can be picked up at all outlying points. every morning they're on their way to modern schools. the new roads mean that the farmer son can travel as far as 50 miles to his new job at the factory. and the fact itself would not have been built hiller if it was not for the new roads. the family can now work in industry as well as on the land. at one time, the farmer would have to drive a while but now he can drive directly saving time and effort. making diversified products that can be delivered quickly. a big factor here north and california -- carolina. one other dramatic change is in the schools. the old one-room schoolhouse has been replaced by the big simple school. 15 years ago these youngsters
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living 20 miles apart would never have known one another. norwood they've had the specialized equipment and training in one of the finest rural school systems in the country. the highway now leads to the modern shopping center as well. to the variety of goods and services that she never had before. farm life as been transformed by the road. the horizon is constantly widening. the rural family it looks beyond the near boy crossroads. the good road leads to things that people would not have thought of years ago. it connects the life of the farm to life of the town.
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with the varied activities of people everywhere. this is the payoff on the investment in good roads in north carolina. a fuller life for country people. but north carolina's not stopping with the program of secondary roads. it's people have already decided to embark on a new program to improve the primary highways. the first big investment is paid off. north carolina will invest again however. confident in the return. but good roads are not always enough alone. we need proper traffic regulations to promote efficient travel. and we need one more thing as well. we are talking safe driving. cars and roads have improved, but the driver must improve as well. almost as great a challenge to communities as the road itself.
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just how can communities go about a safety program? to find out, we sent our camera crew to a middle sized american city in the midwest. to st. joseph missouri. population 79,000. greens processing a meatpacking are the chief industries. locomotive parts, wild rope and safety are also there. they work on safety here. and they study at harden's angel. it is a town that hates accidents. maybe because these have 2000 a year. they don't let you forget safety in central at all. >> safety is everyone's business. there's not a time we can say let george do it. >> the hours are growing shorter day by day. the danger to pedestrians is increasing. the connector as well in the early morning hours or in the dusk of evening. so the streets were extra care.
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they don't let you forget safety in central. they run it like a million- dollar advertising campaign. there is no billion dollars behind it, only the boundary of activity with lots of people like the members of the safety council. walter ladd is the manager. >> we use the 3e's for traffic safety. education, engineering, enforcement. with the big e is education. education the public, and education of the individual. it takes coronation an organization to make it all work. we try to bring every organization all citizens into it. we work a lot with children. >> in saint jo they believe in the educational principle of starting while young. maybe when this generation grows up, safety will be embedded in the consciousness. students learn about safety here
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in traffic court. >> i rested the defender at approximately 5:40 pm for passing through a red light.>> it is late and i tried to make this last delivery because i knew if i did not get this and i'm jammed up. i know i did not go through a red light. in fact a positive.>> after court sessions a good chance to ask questions. >> what happened here? >> it is up to the court to decide by the testimony offered by the defendant and by the police officers as to whether not he is guilty. that is the burden of the court. >> busy driving is a regular part of the high school curriculum. in more ways than one, teenagers have to learn about themselves. that includes the knowledge of the machine that they will drive and the normal limitations of judgment when driving.
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you have to learn to put your brakes on a second sooner not a second later.>> i am sure a lot of good will come from our discussing these various problems. and now i believe we have a few more reports. >> to summarize a discussion here. >> you're looking at the annual teenager safety conference. delegates from all of the high schools participate. >> next report please? >> we know that there are not enough traffic officers to enforce the law.>> this is how the adults sense of responsibility develops. this is where community attitude is born. >> in saint jo safety is not a one time site. not just something for tuesday to be forgotten on wednesday. it includes campaigning against
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the tried and true investing -- adventure the jaywalker. the busy women stay in saint jo include safety, both in committee meetings and working up programs. like this one. they help police and car dealers organizes car checkup. and they saw it all the way through. enforcement of traffic regulations has the support of the people. and there are fewer accidents and fewer traffic violations in central now. the prospect is for still fewer next year. >> a few years ago, we had an average of 17 traffic deaths a
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year. in the last five years the average is been less than five. last year we only had one. how do we do this? it was done by awareness of the public. and by an effective program run by the safety council and our organization. the price of such a program is chief can -- cheap compared to the price of an accident. >> they have learned a lesson the as with liberty the price of safety is continual vigilance. 's you have seen how in various ways people in the own communities are getting together to do something. freedom to travel safely and quickly comfortably along the highways, is not a little freedom. it is a big freedom. as he must realize every time you get caught in a traffic jam or read the accident figures. in many states and cities,
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beside those you've just seen, people are finding real answers to traffic problems. the stories have been collected in this book, freedom of the american road published by the ford motor company. it is available in your community. this book gives you many wonderful ideas. it tells you where to get expert advice if your community needs help. we hope it can show how you also can secure for all of us the freedom of the american road. congress is on break this month so we are showing you american history tv programs normally reserved for the weekend here on c-span 3. today the history of automobiles in the united states. coming up we take you to the henry ford museum in michigan. with a look at cars made by ford. from the modern days of a back
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to the original mustang. and then also to the hondas and how carmakers decided to make those changes to of all. we also look at auto industry mavericks from world war ii through today. including john demaree and and elon musk. followed by the history of the american road up to the 1950s. if you missed any of these programs you can find them online at c-span's video library. on thursday american history tv continues with a look at the life of martin luther king jr. we will show a 50th anniversary commemoration for march. and friday, the world war i ceremony and a look at the very aspect of the war from the heritage days.
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this weekend we take a look at the murder of one of the richest men. english professor paul collins specializes in 19th-century crimes. he talks about his latest book, blood and ivy. the 1849 murder that scandalized harvard. saturday night, at 80 7 pm, a class by jefferson decker on the history of the environmental movement and litigation regarding natural resources. and sunday night at 8 pm during our weekly look at the presidency, harry truman's rushing policy which became known as the cold war. after he outlined his plan to contain communism during an address to congress in 1947. the sunday on oral history, we continue our series on women in congress. with former democratic congresswoman eva clayton. >> my interest and service and
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even my resistance to me. but finally their acceptance of me. and they did eventually. they did except me. i was only on the drafting committee because i was the ranking member. i was there because i made a contribution. >> also the acceptance of me as their equal and many of them had an acceptance of me as their superior. it allowed me to know, that i can negotiate with the best of them. >> in the weeks ahead we will hear from helen bentley, barbara kelly, nancy johnson and lynn woolsey. watch oral history sunday at 10 am eastern time on american history tv on c-span 3. each week, ic


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