Environment: Beauty and the Billboard

I think that I shall never see

A billboard lovely as a tree.

Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,

I'll never see a tree at all.

—Ogden Nash,

Song of the Open Road

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was one of Lady Bird Johnson's pet projects. Inspired by visions of landscaped and uncluttered thoroughfares, she spearheaded the drive that resulted in a law banning billboards along major rural highways. Skimpy funding slowed down the billboard purge until 1971, but since then some 265,000 have been taken down and another half million slated for removal. Now Lady Bird's accomplishments may well be undermined...

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