During her time as First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson once said, “Ugliness is so grim. A little beauty…can help create harmony, which lessen tensions.” This statement explained her conservationist actions in the mid-1960s.
While her husband Lyndon took action to alleviate poverty and to end racial disorder, Lady Bird attempted to bring more harmony between humans and nature by planting flowers in the capital; removing billboards from the nation’s highways; and visiting historical sites, national parks, and scenic areas.
By the time Congress passed Lady Bird’s crown jewel – the Highway Beautification Act on October 8, 1965, the young City of Troy had taken its own steps to create more accord between its people and nature. In May 1965, the Daily Tribune published an article about City Manager Paul A. York’s ambitious, five-year, $1.5 million program to establish 17 new parks in the City. Assistant City Manager Patrick Hynes claimed that the park sites “can include picnic grounds, swimming pools, hiking trails, and golf courses.” This would definitely encourage people of all ages to interact with the environment at its best. In addition, Troy continued to advocate for the peaceful existence between humans and nature even after the HBA became law.
On November 8, 1965, City Council voted to establish the City of Troy Beautification Committee. This committee, established to address plans that decreased tensions between people and the environment, had been dissolved by 1969 when the Troy Times listed the City’s committees. Through all of this, it remains clear that Troy embraced the Beautification program as much as Lady Bird did.
Photo: Mrs. Johnson plants flowers
Establishment of Beautification Committee. 1965. Troy: Troy City Council.
Image Source: Lady Bird Johnson and Senator Fred Farr, 1965, LBJ Library.
Image Source: Robert Knudsen, Lady Bird Johnson plants pansies as Sec.
Stewart Udall and others look on., 1965, LBJ Library.
PBS.org. 2001. Shattered Dreams: The Beautification Campaign. Accessed
November 1, 2015. https://www.pbs.org/ladybird/shattereddreams/shattereddreams_report.html.
Russell, Jan Jarboe. 1999. Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson. New York: Scibner
Troy Times. 1969. “Who’s Who” on city’s committees. March 6.
Wildflower.org. 2015. Our Environmental First Lady. Accessed November 1,
Wright, J. Patrick. 1965. Troy Eyes 17 Parks in Ambitious Plan. Daily Tribune
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org