Good Roads Everywhere, c. 1916

Good Roads Everywhere Four Fold System of Highways, c. 1916
Washington, D.C., 1916
color lithograph
Professionally conserved
Good overall condition, professionally conserved, flattened and backed on mulberry tissue, some fading of colors in lower left quadrant of map, evidence of original folds, top right corner, repaired tear and small loss in corner margin
26.5 × 19.5 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

            This graphically illustrated broadside represents the ideas of the National Highway Association, founded in 1911 by Charles Henry Davis, a Civil Engineer whose name is shown as the President. He was an advocate of public investment in a coast to coast system of paved highways that served citizens of the United States from the small town roads, to county roads leading to state highways that would then interconnect with national highways. Davis called this the Four Fold System of Highways.  The illustrations are for graphic devices to adorn automobiles, street signs etc. The Divisions of this organization represented states across the United States, addressed many historic trails such as the Tamiam Trail, Indian Trail, Cotton Belt Trail, Oregon Trail and promoted membership, workshops and other tasks.

            Davis was an advocate for developing a national system of paved roads at a time when automobile production was becoming a major force in the economy and more Americans were able to buy cars. He was also an investor in passenger automobiles. Davis leased his extensive coal holdings to Henry Ford and negotiated payment in terms of a royalty on every Ford car sold.  With this he funded his work.

            Davis built his organization in Yarmouth, Massachusetts and assembled a staff of writers, mapmakers and others to promote his ideas for a national highway system. He was one of the first advocates for government investment in infrastructure and public transportation as a national security and economic foundation for the United States. This broadside argues that 99% of Americans will benefit from the four fold system of highways unlike the costs and risks of the Panama Canal. It is hard to believe that there was an era in American public policy where advocacy for highways was regarded as radical thought ahead of its time.

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