Fifty years ago today, President Johnson signed the Highway Beautification Act. 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.