Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Stewart, Alanna C. (2011). The Construction of Interstate-95: A Failure to Preserve a City's History. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


In 1959, construction on Interstate-95 (the Delaware Expressway) began in Philadelphia. Original plans for construction occurred in 1937, but were not approved until more than twenty years later. Several versions of the plans were drafted, but the final plan for the elevated expressway was approved during the 1950s. The project took twenty years to complete, and by 1979, the Delaware Expressway ran along the entire eastern edge of Philadelphia.

Many people opposed of this plan. Drawings and photographs of the buildings were produced, protests and rallies took place, and alternative routes were discussed. Despite these efforts, three hundred years of Philadelphia history was lost. This thesis documents a piece of the valuable historic fabric that was lost during highway construction. It will demonstrate how the addition of the Delaware Expressway altered Philadelphia’s history, and simultaneously created preservationists who fought to save America’s birthplace.



Date Posted: 04 May 2012