The effects of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, cannot be overstated. By allowing people and goods to efficiently travel between cities and towns, the Interstate System has had a signifcant impact on our nation’s economy.

In commemoration of this milestone, the Federal Highway Administration is hosting a tribute web site full of facts, figures, history and statistics.

An Interstate Density Map, which charts the progression of the Interstate System in relation to population density across the country by decade, is one of the site’s most powerful features. While construction was most robust during the first decade of its development, and mostly completed by the 1980s, each decade is marked by significant developments in the economy as well as population shifts, as explained in the commentary that accompanies the map for each decade.

The site offers a rich collection of historical content – including links to news articles about the building of the system, road-related songs, and even movies that feature America’s highways.

Myths debunked … Another feature of the 50th Anniversary web site sets the record straight on several commonly held misconceptions. For example, many people believe that President Dwight Eisenhower conceived of the Interstate System. The idea for such a system was actually included in a proposal to Congress in 1939. President Eisenhower’s support for the Interstate concept led to the enactment of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which led to to established the program for funding and building the system.