University of California Transportation Center
Responding to Relative Decline: The Plank Road Boom of Antebellum New York
- Author(s): Majewski, John
- Baer, Christopher
- Klein, Daniel B.
- et al.
From 1847 to 1853 New Yorkers built more than 3,500 miles of wooden roads. Financed primarily by residents of declining rural townships, plank roads were seen as a means of linking isolated areas to the canal and railroad network. A broad range of individuals invested in the roads, suggesting that the drive for bigger markets was supported by a large cross section of the population. Considerable community spirit animated the movement, indicating that New Yorkers used the social capital of the community to reach their entrepreneurial aspirations.