[Ads-l] beltway

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 13 13:27:50 EST 2017

Bill Mullins found "Inside the Beltway" from November 1980.

It can be found as early as September 1979, and perhaps by the person who may have coined it or popularized the concept.

Richard Pettigrew served as "Assistant to the President" for streamlining beauracracy under Jimmy Carter.  When he resigned, he lamented the difficulty of what Trump would call "draining the swamp," or Hannity might term the "deep state," but what Pettigrew referred to as "the turkey farm" or the "'iron triangle,' that unholy alliance of special-interest groups, members of Congress and middle-level bureaucrats whose careers depend on the continued existence of a federal program, no matter how poorly run."

He also explained "inside the beltway."  The editor included the full description, as though it was not then a current idiom:

One of the first things he learned was that the nation was divided into two parts: "inside the beltway" (the beltway is the interstate highway circling Washington and its suburbs) and "outside the beltway."  Inside the beltway are Congress and the federal agencies.  Outsie the beltway is the rest of the United States.

Tallahassee Democrat, September 23, 1979, page B8<https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15094969/tallahassee_democrat/>.

Also, as Garson pointed out, "belt highway" was in use long before "beltway."

"Belt road" and "belt railroad" (both referring to railroads) are even earlier, dating to about 1860.  The first one appears to have been built in New York City in 1862, with discussions about it in the planning stages as early as 1860.  It ran from Central Park, west to the river, down to the Battery, up the East Side and back to the park.

Other cities initiated similar projects over the next several decades.  Frequently they are referred to as designed to connect different train lines together and to provide more access to railways away from the unrelated monopoly railroads with separate lines and separate terminals.  The loop also alleviated train traffic problems and made it unnecessary to lay two lines of track - one each way - as the trains all just went around in a circle.

For example: The Times-Democrat, November 29, 1888, page 3<https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15093972/the_timesdemocrat/>: Proposed Route of the Belt Road.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 1, 1862, page 1<https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15094353/the_philadelphia_inquirer/>. New York Mayor's plans to "veto the so-called 'Belt railroad scheme.'" (It opened in 1863).

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2017 11:52 PM
Subject: Re: beltway

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: beltway

Excellent work, Peter. It looks like the predecessor term to "beltway"
was "belt highway". Here is an instance in 1937. The article says that
the group in favor of building the "belt highway" proposed it back in
1929 although I do not know if it was described with the term "belt
highway" back in 1929.

Date: July 18, 1937
Newspaper: The Indianapolis Sunday Star
Newspaper Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Article: Belt Highway Is Proposed to Relieve Traffic in Indianapolis
Author: C. L. Kern (Automobile Editor of The Star)
Quote Page 25, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Construction of a belt highway around Indianapolis would be one means
of removing heavy trucks from Indianapolis streets, says Todd Stoops,
secretary-manager of the Hoosier Motor Club. . . .

The average tourist when entering Indianapolis very seldom makes a
purchase in the center of the city but rather at the outskirts, so
with this belt highway the tourist would avoid the downtown section
altogether. It will speed him on his way and at the same time downtown
merchants will benefit by the reduction of traffic in city streets. .
. .

"The Hoosier Motor Club launched its campaign to build a belt highway
around the city in 1929 and it had the support of the Merchants'
Association, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Auto Trade
Association of Indianapolis.
[End excerpt]


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