Collection Facts

Extent: 
176 items
Dates of Original: 
1953 - 1960
Collection Owner:
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

Grant W. Johnson of Ticonderoga served as Essex County's lone State Assemblyman from 1953 until his death in 1965. In that time, New York's roads were of particular interest to him, especially the proposed "Adirondack Northway," an extension of the State Thruway's I-87 segment, that would link Albany to the Canadian border. While most "North Country" residents, and many others in the Empire State, favored the highway, considerable debate accompanied the path it would take between the town of Glens Falls and Plattsburgh. Communities in the Champlain Valley, including Johnson's native Ticonderoga, predictably favored an eastern path roughly paralleling NYS Route 22.

Others, especially the NYS Department of Public Works, supported one to the west alongside US Route 9. Governors W. Averell Harriman and Nelson A. Rockefeller, as well as Assemblyman Johnson, sided with the DPW's proposed route. One hurdle to be cleared, however, was the State Constitution's Article XIV's "Forever Wild" clause, inserted protecting New York's Forest Preserve. While only 400 acres would be affected by the new highway, an amendment was required. A statewide referendum passed in 1959, clearing the way for construction of the Northway.

Scope of Collection

This collection documents Johnson's role, and that of others, from Governor Thomas E. Dewey's proposal for a major highway to connect New York City and Montreal in 1953 to the 1960 aftermath of the referendum results. Researchers interested in the early implementation of the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, the Adirondack Park, or state & local politics of the era will find much of value in this collection.