When I published my WSJ column on the glamour of high-speed rail and wind turbines—which, like most glamour, is more about images, whether photographs or mental pictures, than reality—many rail advocates objected that highways and air travel had also been sold with glamour.
Although not relevant to the distinction between private indulgences (e.g., dresses) and public subsidies at the end of my column, the point is quite true. The “lost glamour of air travel” is a cliché, of course. But highways were equally glamorous in the mid-20th century. They promised swift, smooth travel with never a traffic jam. Unlike passenger rail, which tends to suffer from underuse, both highways and airplanes lost their glamour to popularity.
Thanks to this post on Matt Novak's great PaleoFuture blog, I discovered this vintage bit of highway glamour. (Be sure to check out the restored Magic Highway stills on Matt's blog, as well as our Q&A with him.)