Highway Beautification Act Media Kit
"Where flowers bloom so does hope." - Lady Bird Johnson
On October 22, 1965, President Johnson signed the Highway Beautification Act in an East Room ceremony at the White House. The law was an unprecedented effort by the Johnson administration, with Lady Bird Johnson putting it at the top of her agenda, to limit the billboards, outdoor advertising, and junkyards that threatened to spoil the raw beauty of America and its interstate highways.
Just before the 1965 Congressional session ended, Johnson called his Cabinet and top staffers to a meeting. He admonished them, "The Congress is about ready to adjourn, and they haven't passed Lady Bird's Highway Beautification Act…Now, she wants that bill. And if she wants it, I want it, and by God, we're going to pass it." The bill passed soon after.
The 1962 release of Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring," is what first sounded an alarm during the '60s about the impact industrialization and pollution were doing to the land. President Johnson took action, signing the Wilderness Act in 1964, and later, the Water Quality and Clean Air Acts. And throughout Johnson's presidency, Lady Bird traveled across the country bringing awareness to national parks and the needed efforts to preserve natural habitats and plants.
Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were inspired by nature. Johnson said, "My deepest attitudes and beliefs were shaped by a closeness to the land, and it was only natural for me to think about preserving it." He grew up near the Pedernales River in the Texas Hill Country.
After her mother died when she was five years old, Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor, spent most of her days in the woods of East Texas, her refuge and escape, captivated by its natural beauty. Looking back she said, "Nature was my first and most reliable companion."
For historical perspective, the LBJ Presidential Library has collected related photos, videos, audio, and text from the bill signing and Lady Bird's dedication of the first scenic highway in California. All are public domain.
On October 19, 2015, atop the breathtaking Bixby Creek Bridge on California's famed Pacific Coast Highway, the LBJ Foundation celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Highway Beautification Act. President Johnson's daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, rededicated a plaque at the Bixby Creek Bridge Scenic Overlook that her mother, Lady Bird Johnson, first installed 50 years prior. Lady Bird Johnson came to the very same spot to dedicate California's first scenic highway "as the maintenance of a trust... for generations to follow." Learn more about the rededication ceremony.
"...the forests and the flowers, the open prairies and the slope of the hills, the tall mountains, the granite, the limestone, the caliche, the unmarked trails, the winding little streams-well, this is the America that no amount of science or skill can ever recreate or actually ever duplicate. This is the source of America's greatness. It is another part of America's soul as well."
- President Lyndon B. Johnson