The Little-Known History of Transit in Washington, D.C.

In the following interview, we speak with Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. Speck is an architect and city planner in Washington, D.C., oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design, and served on the Sustainability Task Force of the Department of Homeland Security.

Speck recounts a part of D.C. history that many residents don't know. Popular protests succeeded in tabling plans to build hundreds of miles of highways in and through the city, with the funds going instead to build the D.C. Metro system.

The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for the next year. Find out which stock it is in the special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Isaac Pino: Perhaps a city that's closer to home for a lot of us, Washington, D.C., also has an interesting story to tell that dates back a few decades, obviously, from Portland's. I was wondering if you could discuss what happened in the '70s or '60s here.

Jeff Speck: Yeah, most people who live in D.C. don't realize that D.C. was slated to receive hundreds of miles of highways -- hundreds -- including one that circled the Mall. Basically, both sides of the Mall were going to be depressed and like four lanes, and there was another one that was going to be about half a mile out, encircling the Mall, and much more Beltway than was ever built. All that ever came was the Beltway.

There was a huge, drawn-out protest movement in the face of universal approval from every powerful entity in the community, like happened everywhere in America, in support of these highways, including the Washington Post, the D.C. Board of Trade, everyone.

Every institution was in support of these highways, but it was labeled "white men's roads through black men's homes," among other things. People lay down in front of bulldozers, and eventually it was stopped. Most of that money then went into the Metro system, which is one of the reasons why D.C. is such a livable, walkable city now.

It's kind of ironic: The federal government, which is based here in Washington, paid for so many cities to be ruined by highways, but we did manage to escape it ourselves.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2407774, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 11/28/2014 3:43:07 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement