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East-West Expressway oral history collection

Identifier: OH EWEC


Citizen responses to the highway plan developed for Baltimore, Maryland, known as the East-West Expressway. Materials include audio recordings and related information and notes.


  • 1974


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

The East-West Expressway Collection, OH 8053 – OH 8061, is a series of interviews conducted in 1974 by Millie Rahn, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on citizen response to the 3-A system, a highway plan developed for Baltimore. The collection contains interviews with people both in support of and opposed to the 3-A system, popularly known as the East-West Expressway. This was the first planned collection of oral histories undertaken by the Maryland Historical Society’s Oral History Office.

Planning for an urban expressway through Baltimore began in the early 1940s, with as many as a dozen proposals studied. The proposals offered varying routes for an expressway running east to west through the city, with ideas of connecting Route 70 with Interstate 95 in Highlandtown. By 1969 a plan known as the 3-A system was adopted by city planners, which proposed approximately 23 miles of highway running across the city and through many neighborhoods including an eight lane highway through Leakin Park, Fells Point, and Ft. McHenry.

Various community groups began to emerge in the mid to late 1960s opposing the proposed highway plans through their neighborhoods. These included the Southeast Committee Against the Road (SCAR), the Canton Improvement Association, the Society for the Preservation of Fells Point, Montgomery Street and Federal Hill, and the Movement Against Destruction (MAD). Eventually these groups coalesced under an umbrella organization, the Southeast Community Organization (SECO). Construction began on what was to be Interstate 170 in 1975, but the continued protests by community groups led to the cancellation of the project by 1981. The 1.4 mile stretch of highway that was completed, which begins near Lexington Market and extends to the intersection of Bentalou and Franklin Streets, has come to be known as the “Highway to Nowhere.”

Seven of the eight interviewees in this collection are with opponents of the road. These include Carolyn Tyson, president of Movement Against Destruction (MAD) from 1971 to 1973, John Gleason, president of the Society for the Preservation of Fells Point, Montgomery Street and Federal Hill, and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Baltimore City Councilwoman in 1974. William Boucher, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, which was involved in transportation planning for the city, is the sole proponent of the highway system represented in the collection.


9 Items : 9 oral histories

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection contains nine interviews with people both in support of and opposed to the 3-A system, popularly known as the East-West Expressway. Topics discussed include the social and economic impact of the planned highway; community opposition to the various highway plans; support for the proposed plan; history and background on the various community groups including the Movement Against Destruction (MAD), the Canton Improvement Association, and the Southeast Community Organization (SECO). Materials available for this collection include audio recordings, tape indexes, background information on the project, correspondence, newspaper clippings, brochures, news releases and other documents relating to the highway plan. Most of this material can be found in OH 8053. A transcript is available for OH 8054, William Boucher. Tape indexes are available for the remaining 7 interviews.

Guide to the East-West Expressway oral history collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-07-08: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States