Bostons historically tangled streets were laid out long before the advent of the automobile. By mid-20th century, car traffic in the inner city was extremely congested, with north-south trips especially so. Commissioner of Public Works William Callahan pushed through plans for an elevated expressway which eventually was constructed between the downtown area and the waterfront. This "Central Artery" (known officially as the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway) displaced thousands of residents and businesses and physically divided the historical connection between the downtown and market areas and the waterfront. Governor John Volpe interceded in the 1950s to send the last section of the Central Artery underground, through the Dewey Square (or "South Station") Tunnel, but while traffic moved somewhat better the other problems remained.
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