A Classic 1950s Propaganda Film Makes the Case for Superhighways

"This is the American dream of freedom on wheels. An automotive age, traveling on time-saving super highways," begins the narrator of Give Yourself the Green Light, a 1954 film funded by General Motors. "But we're running out of roads! We didn't dream big enough," he explains. This first half of the film, below, outlines the problem posed by the growing number of cars and commuters, and includes fascinating footage of 1950s life on wheels -- classic cars, a school bus, the main street of a small town, etc. The second half of the film goes on to describe an essay contest General Motors sponsored, calling for citizens to contribute ideas for solving the problem, and examples of cities building better roads. Watch the film in its entirety at the Prelinger Archive.

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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