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Asphalt Roads

July 29, 2014

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Profile America — Tuesday, July 29th. Long before there were automobiles in the U.S., good roads were badly needed to get farm produce to market and to allow people to go visiting and shopping without battling mud. An American professor who had emigrated from Belgium -- Edward de Smedt -- invented an asphalt mix, which could be applied in sheets to make a smooth surface. His first trial occurred on this date in 1870 on William Street in Newark, New Jersey. Even though de Smedt's technique worked well, even by 1904, there were only 154 miles of paved highway in the entire country. Today, there are over a million miles of urban streets, and more than 61,000 miles of interstate roads and other freeways, maintained and extended by America's 10,771 road and bridge construction firms. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <>.

Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 6621

Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 710 NAICS 23731

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: June 27, 2014