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Oct. 22, 1965: Highway Beautification Act becomes law

October 22, 2013

As you drive on highways around the U.S., they may not always seem like beautiful places. Billboards and signs are along the road, and trash sometimes litters the sides. But without the Highway Beautification Act, signed into law in 1965, it’d be much worse.

A pet project of Lady Bird Johnson, the act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson 48 years ago to limit billboards and advertising along American freeways. While there are a number of exemptions in the act and more have been added, 840,000 advertising signs (out of 1.1 million at the time) were deemed illegal after the act became law.

Beautification also included screening off junkyards and other roadside messes. And the act set a standard for maintaining the heavily traveled strips of land along our busiest roads. “This bill will bring the wonders of nature back into our daily lives,” President Johnson said at the signing.