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The Cultural Impact of the Highway

Highway History
Although 2013 marked the 100 year anniversary of Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental highway, it was not until 1939 when Congress considered a federally funded a national interstate system. In 1944, the Federal Aide Highway Act gave permission for the national highway system to be constructed, but it failed to give permission for a specific program to initiate construction. Over a decade later, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, authorizing the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways. For decades, artists have incorporated highway themes into American pop culture.

Highways and Pop Culture

America’s highways are the subjects or setting for many movies and songs. One of the most notable songs includes the Rascal Flatt’s rendition of Tom Cochrane’s, “Life is a Highway,” the theme song to the Disney movie, Cars. John Mayer has a version of Bobby Troupe’s “Route 66,” on the same soundtrack.

The road trip is a popular setting for several road trip themed movies. Starring Pete Fonda and Dennis Hopper, “Easy Rider” (1969), was one of the first films to glorify the freedom of traveling across America’s highways. Burt Reynolds and Sally Field star in “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977). The 80s produced a few movies that could be among the road trip hall-of-fame, including “Cannonball Run” (1981), starring Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett and Roger Moore and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). By the 90s, the road trip theme becomes less humorous, taking on serious subjects like feminism in the critically acclaimed “Thelma and Louise” (1991) starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. The “Straight Story”, starring Richard Farnsworth, Sissey Spacek and Harry Dean Stanton, tackles issues related to aging, death and mental illness. Riding a lawnmower, Alvin Straight, an elderly man, takes a journey across Iowa and Wisconsin to make amends with his estranged, dying brother, Lyle.

Hit the Road Jack

If life imitates art, many will find driving America’s highways an adventure. If you want a career that will give you the freedom and excitement of traveling America’s highways, talk to DSW Drivers, the standard bearer in Tucson trucking.

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