Long before there were automobiles in the U.S., good roads were badly needed to get farm produce to market and to allow people to go visiting and shopping without battling mud. An American professor who had emigrated from Belgium — Edward de Smedt–invented an asphalt mix, which could be applied in sheets to make a smooth surface. His first trial occurred on this date in 1870 on William Street in Newark, New Jersey. Even though de Smedt’s technique worked well, even by 1904, there were only 154 miles of paved highway in the entire country. Today, there are over a million miles of urban highways, including more than 59,000 miles of interstate roads and other freeways. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, July 28th. This is Parents’ Day — an annual public observance similar to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but not an official holiday. And because it dates only from 1994, not as well known. Its goal is to honor the men and women whose devotion to children strengthens families and society in general, whether they are actual parents or parental figures. Among the activities of the day, “Parents of the Year” will be recognized at local, state and national levels. As America changes demographically, the role of parents remains the same — to nurture children. Indicative of those demographic changes is the fact that just over half of the nation’s children younger than one year are minorities, as are nearly half of America’s children under the age of five. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, July 27th. The nation’s love affair with automobiles is generations old, and our devotion can be traced down through the decades by looking at advertising, as cars progressed from romantic if noisy new playthings to a daily necessity. The first known national ad about a car appeared at the end of July 1898 in the Scientific American magazine, for the Winton Motor Carriage with the headline “dispense with a horse.” Americans did just that, and competing car companies increased spending on advertising. By 1906, 57 car companies spent over a half million dollars advertising in 12 national magazines. Today, cars and trucks are a major part of the nearly $95 billion spent annually on advertising. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.