Interstate 85


I85

This is what made EastChase possible. The view is of the South terminus of the I-85 Interstate, as it intersects I-65, but this was the artery that changed Montgomery’s growth from Southeast to East. No event has had more impact on our city (nor on our nation, for that matter) than has the construction of this gigantic public works project. President Eisenhower’s magnificent 1956 highway program was the ultimate expression of U.S. might after WW II.

Most states started their work in urban areas and worked out; Alabama, on the other hand, began in rural areas and did not reach the cities for some years. Thus, work on this mile was done circa 1965. The earth movers and vibrators were so huge that water glasses would bounce in structures just beyond the ROW as they ran.

85 Curve

Another look at the new ASU stadium and 85 curve with the Jackson Hospital Doctor’s Office Building on the right edge, as seen from the hospital parking deck. The view shows how close Interstate I-85 passed South of Jackson Hospital, and how it immediately curved to the right to avoid taking out the original 1890 ASU campus. Early on, the spiral exit ramp of the Jackson parking deck was on this side of the deck and extended out to the chain link fence visible along the top of the grass strip. The old ramp had virtually open sides and was a true circle; back in the late 1960s going down this thing was a thrill ride for my children, who would shriek with glee as we sped down it.

The decision to route I-85 right through the city dealt devastating blows. Entire neighborhoods were wiped out; others were split apart.  The amount of earth moved staggers the imagination. At least three churches were lost in just the stretch depicted. The camera is positioned at the location of Alabama’s first governor’s mansion; just on the far side of the Court Street overpass stood the large home of my wife’s grandfather.

EisenhowerAt left is General Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, in whose administration the Interstate was begun. Ike led the Allied war effort against Germany in WW II, and was so popular that he easily won election as POTUS in 1952. He was the first Republican elected since Herbert Hoover, and it was his entry into the political realm that engendered my own interest in such matters.

 

 

-Charles Humphries

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