Tuesday 1st October 1940
The Pennsylvania Turnpike, America’s first example of a toll superhighway, officially opened for service on this day. The year before, this new form of superhighway was featured at the 1939 New York City’s World Fair, and was greeted by skepticism by many groups who doubted the merits of the extravagant project. Inspired by Germany’s 100 mph autobahns, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was constructed at great expense to serve the needs of its users, levelling any terrain obstructions that hindered efficient travel along the limited-access superhighway. For a three-hour reduction of travel time between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, the turnpike asked travellers to pay tolls, creating revenues that helped cover the turnpike’s high construction and maintenance costs. Despite worries about the $70 million price tag of this unproven type of highway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike proved a huge success, hosting an average of over 2,000,000 vehicles every year–a figure nearly twice the original estimate by its planners.