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Driving in the open countryside, along boulevards, and through parks and nature preserves was a common form of recreation (for those who could afford) in the horse-drawn era. Indeed, in their infancy automobiles were widely seen as novel means to pursue this pastime. Many of the first intercity highways consequently were conceived more as recreational than as commercial routes. Some of these new roads, such the Chicago-Milwaukee route and Sheridan Road, preceded the coming of the automobile and were designed to promote the development of upper middle class suburbs. The Plan of Chicago did not hold this limited view of the automobile, and it embraced its potential for commercial and farm traffic. Some of its schemes, such as the grand boulevards planned for central Chicago and the Lake Michigan circumferential route, nevertheless betray a recreational orientation in the planners’ approach to the purpose and uses of private automobiles.
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