In the late 1950s and the 1960s, the federal Interstate Highway System dramatically reshaped postwar America's urban landscape. Planners designed urban freeways to connect central business and industrial districts to burgeoning suburban communities, often at the destruction of America's oldest urban neighborhoods. Citizens of these communities challenged urban freeway construction at the grassroots level with varying degrees of success. Those efforts that were not successful resulted in the destruction and division of established neighborhoods and the displacement of thousands of people.
Resistance and Relocation: Freeways and Contested Space in Omaha, 1958-1962 is a digital history project that examines the interplay between urban Interstate Highway development, residential dislocation, and grassroots freeway opposition movements in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Using Omaha, Nebraska as a case study, Resistance and Relocation studies the forces that dramatically reshaped metropolitan American in the postwar era within a spatial context—suburban expansion, deindustrialization, shifting demographics and political power, and contests between liberal urban boosters and grassroots conservative movements. Utilizing newspaper accounts, highway planning documents, construction photographs, and oral histories, this project examines Omahans' various motives for opposing, supporting, or remaining indifferent to urban freeway construction. This project also considers the experiences that displaced renters and homeowners faced.
This project's goal is to explore new ways to present scholarship that helps bridge structural urban history narratives with those of social movement history.