: This Is America (. . )

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: 1468


Text 6

 

1 KEY WORDS

 

Match the vocabulary items with their definitions

 

 

1.

trade

a.

put forward an idea for discussion by others

2.

propose

b.

the process or period of gathering in crops

3.

steamboat

c.

a rubber covering placed around a wheel

4.

crop

d.

the action of buying and selling goods and services

5.

harvest

e.

made longer or wider without tearing or breaking

6.

tire

f.

a boat that is propelled by a steam engine

7.

stretch

g.

a person injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident

8.

victim

h.

material such as coal, gas, or oil that is burned to produce heat or power

9.

fuel

i.

a matter of interest or importance to someone

10.

concern

j.

a cultivated plant that is grown as food

 

 

2 FIND THE INFORMATION

 

Read the text as quickly as possible and answer the questions:

 

1. What was Thomas Jeffersons wish?

 

2. What project did he propose?

 

3. When did the American railroad system begin?

 

4. What was the effect of the railway system on the nation?

 

5. When did the electric streetcar become a common form of transportation?

 

6. Who was the first to cross the United States in an automobile?

 

7. How long did the trip last?

 

8. What was the most travelled highway during the 1920s and 30s?

 

9. When was the major work on the Interstate Highway System completed?

10. What are the environmental concerns that deal with transportation?

 

A Rolling History of Americans on the Move

In 1800, Americans elected Thomas Jefferson as their third president. Jefferson had a wish. He wanted to discover a waterway that crossed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. He wanted to build a system of trade that connected people throughout the country. At that time the United States did not stretch all the way across the continent.

 

Jefferson proposed that a group of explorers travel across North America in search of such a waterway. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the exploration west from 1803 to 1806. They discovered that the Rocky Mountains divided the land. They also found no coast-to-coast waterway.

 

So Jefferson decided that a different transportation system would best connect American communities. This system involved roads, rivers and railroads. It also included the digging of waterways.

 

By the middle of the 1800s, dirt roads had been built in parts of the nation. The use of river steamboats increased. Boats also traveled along man-made canals which strengthened local economies.

 

The American railroad system began. Many people did not believe train technology would work. In time, railroads became the most popular form of land transportation in the United States.

 

In 19th century American culture, railroads were more than just a way to travel. Trains also found their way into the works of writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman.

 

In 1876, the United States celebrated its 100th birthday. By now, there were new ways to move people and goods between farms, towns and cities. The flow of business changed. Lives improved.

 

Within those first one hundred years, transportation links had helped form a new national economy.

 

Workers finished the first coast-to-coast railroad in 1869. Towns and cities could develop farther away from major waterways and the coasts. But, to develop economically, many small communities had to build links to the railroads.

 

Railroads helped many industries, including agriculture. Farmers had a new way to send wheat and grain to ports. From there, ships could carry the goods around the world.

 

Trains had special container cars with ice to keep meat, milk and other goods cold for long distances on their way to market.

People could now get fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Locally grown crops could be sold nationally. Farmers often hired immigrant workers from Asia and Mexico to plant, harvest and pack these foods.

 

By the early 1900s, American cities had grown. So, too, had public transportation. The electric streetcar became a common form of transportation. These trolleys ran on metal tracks built into streets.

 

Soon, however, people began to drive their own cars. Nelson Jackson and his friend, Sewall Crocker, were honored as the first to cross the United States in an automobile. Their trip in 1903 lasted sixty-three days. And it was difficult. Mainly that was because few good roads for driving existed.

 

But the two men, and their dog Bud, also had trouble with their car and with the weather. Yet, they proved that long-distance travel across the United States was possible. The trip also helped fuel interest in the American automobile industry.

 

By 1930, more than half the families in America owned an automobile. For many, a car became a need, not simply an expensive toy. To deal with the changes, lawmakers had to pass new traffic laws and rebuild roads.

 

Cars also needed businesses to service them. Gas stations, tire stores and repair centers began to appear.

 

Many people took to the road for personal travel or to find work. The open highway came to represent independence and freedom. During the 1920s and 30s, the most traveled road in the United States was Route 66. It stretched from Chicago, Illinois, to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. It was considered the "people's highway."

 

The writer John Steinbeck called Route 66 the "Mother Road" in his book "The Grapes of Wrath." Hundreds of thousands of people traveled this Mother Road during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They came from the middle of the country. They moved West in search of work and a better life.

 

World War II ended in 1945. Soldiers came home and started families. Businesses started to move out to the edges of cities where suburbs were developing. Most families in these growing communities had cars, bicycles or motorcycles to get around. Buses also became popular.

 

The movement of businesses and people away from city centers led to the economic weakening of many downtown areas. City leaders reacted with transportation projects designed to support downtown development.

 

Underground train systems also became popular in the 1950s. Some people had enough money to ride on the newest form of transportation: the airplane.

 

But for most automobile drivers, long-distance travel remained somewhat difficult. There was no state-to-state highway system. In 1956 Congress passed a law

called the Federal Aid Highway Act. Engineers designed a sixty-five thousand kilometer system of roads. They designed highways to reach every city with a population over one hundred thousand.

 

The major work on the Interstate Highway System was completed around

1990. It cost more than one hundred thousand million dollars. It has done more than

simply make a trip to see family in another state easier. It has also led to the rise of

the container trucking industry.

 

The American transportation system started with horses and boats. It now includes everything from container trucks to airplanes to motorcycles. Yet, in some ways, the system has been a victim of its own success.

 

Many places struggle with traffic problems as more and more cars fill the roads. And a lot of people do not just drive cars anymore. They drive big sport utility vehicles and minivans and personal trucks.

 

For others, hybrid cars are the answer. Hybrids use both gas and electricity. They save fuel and reduce pollution. But pollution is not the only environmental concern with transportation. Ease of travel means development can spread farther and farther. And that means the loss of natural areas.

 

Yet, every day, Americans depend on their transportation system to keep them, and the largest economy in the world, on the move.

 

The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. has a transportation exhibition that explores the connection to the economic, social and cultural development of the United States. And you can experience it all on the Internet at americanhistory.si.edu/onthemove/exhibition.

 

3 COMPREHENSION CHECK

 

Decide whether these statements are TRUE or FALSE

 

1. President Thomas Jefferson started the national transportation system.

 

2. At that time not many people believed train technology would work.

 

3. As the transportation system developed the country changed dramatically.

 

4. By the early 1900s, public transportation had become common in many

American cities.

 

5. Underground train systems also became popular in the 1960s.

 

6. Surprisingly, the Interstate Highway System was completed only 30 years ago.

 

7. Highly developed transportation system is a major concern of environmentalists.

4 VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR EXERCISES

 

1) Match the beginning of the phrases with their endings to make expressions from the text

 

1.

connect

a.

in search of a waterway

2.

stretch

b.

to the rise of the industry

3.

travel

c.

on metal tracks

4.

run

d.

all the way across the continent

5.

ride

e.

with traffic problems

6.

lead

f.

the economy on the move

7.

struggle

g.

people throughout the country

8.

keep

h.

on the newest form of transportation

 

 

2) Fill in the gaps with the correct tense forms

 

In 1876, the United States 1)

(celebrate) its 100th birthday. By now,

there 2)

(be) new ways to move people and goods between farms, towns and

cities. The flow of business 3)

(change). Within those first one hundred years,

transportation links 4)

(help) form a new national economy. Workers 5)

(finish) the first coast-to-coast railroad in 1869. Railroads 6)

(help) many

industries, including agriculture. Farmers 7)

and grain to ports. From there, ships 8)

(have) a new way to send wheat

(can/carry) the goods around the

world. Trains 9)

(have) special container cars with ice to keep meat, milk and

other goods cold for long distances on their way to market. People 10)

(can/get) fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Locally grown crops 11)

(can/be) sold nationally. Farmers often 12)

(hire) immigrant workers

from Asia and Mexico to plant, harvest and pack these foods. By the early 1900s,

American cities 13)

(grow). So, too, 14)

(have) public transportation. The

electric streetcar 15)

(become) a common form of transportation. These

trolleys 16)

(run) on metal tracks built into streets. Soon, however, people 17)

(begin) to drive their own cars. By 1930, more than half the families in

America 18)

(own) an automobile. For many, a car 19)

(become) a

need, not simply an expensive toy. To deal with the changes, lawmakers 20) (have) to pass new traffic laws and rebuild roads.

 

5 FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES

 

1. Look into further details of the history of transportation in the USA at americanhistory.si.edu/onthemove/exhibition.

 

2. Explore the history of transportation in our country. Prepare a presentation about it.

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