Friday, February 27, 2015

An Opponent to the Northwest Freeway Passes Away

who had been appointed by President Kennedy as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Capital Transportation Agency to work upon Recommendations for Transportation in the National Capital Region: A Report to the President for transmittal to Congress by the National Capital Transportation Agency November 1, 1962

Thomas Farmer - from Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.
d. February 5, 2015 at 91

Died February 5, 2015 at the age of 91.

Was from the Cleveland Park area of Washington D.C. NW

From 1961 to 1964, he was chairman of the advisory board of the National Capital Transportation Agency and roughly concurrently helped form the Northwest Committee for Transportation Planning.

Cleveland Park was the neighborhood of the attorney Peter S. Craig, where the I-70S Northwest Freeway was proposed to have its south-eastern portion run between the Wisconsin Avenue corridor to then cross Rock Creek Park and run through the Mount Pleasant area before turning due south a few hundred feet west parallel to 14th Street NW to meet the I-66 North Leg of the Inner Loop along U Street as that latter freeway was proposed in the 1955 Inner Loop Study.

The NW Freeway, as shown in 1957 and 1959 study reports, would have entered Washington, D.C. at Friendship Heights,  paralleling Wisconsin Avenue from the Capital Beltway through Bethesda, and so continuing to a set of cut and cover tunnels beneath Tenley Circle, with this Wisconsin Avenue corridor segment displacing about 74 houses within the District, according to the 1957 report.

A prohibition upon a mixed use - allowing trucks - freeway in Glover Archibold Park led to the 'Cross Park Freeway' routing for the south-eastern portion of the I-70S NW Freeway through the Cleveland Park area, displacing there about 0 homes, before crossing Rock Creek Park where the segment to the east would have displaced probably 1,000+ houses in the Mount Pleasant area.  Although the freeway's impacts where primarily to the east, it was Cleveland Park that would be perhaps the main nexus of the opposition to any freeway planning to the west of Rock Creek Park, that would successfully get the U.S. Congress to include a 5 year moratorium on such planning in far NW.

A significant amount of such activists, including those from Bethesda would then -- cir 1960-1962 -- favor routing I-70S along a North Central Freeway paralleling Georgia Avenue that would have displaced an upwards of 4,000+.  Others though, including Peter S. Craig, would favor the alternative routing along the B&O railroad-industrial corridor, displacing far far fewer houses while avoiding establishing a new local bisection, as adopted by the Kennedy Administration's transportation report dated November 1, 1962. 

As Farmer had been appointed by President Kennedy as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Capital Transportation Agency from 1961 to 1964, which helped produce that November 1, 1962 report, he might not have been dogmatically opposed to freeways within Washington D.C. in general.

1959 NW Freeway - Cleveland Park

1959 NW Freeway - Mt. Pleasant


At this time, "A Trip Within The Beltway" has no further details on Thomas Farmer's freeway related activism, and can simply gather from the time-line and his location -- Cleveland Park -- that he was active against the Northwest Freeway

Thomas Farmer

New! Thomas Laurence Farmer, whose Washington career in public service and private law practice spanned 63 years, died February 5, 2015 at his home in Cleveland Park surrounded by his family. He was 91 years old. The cause was neuro-degenerative illness.

Thomas Farmer combined private law practice with a passion for politics and international affairs. He first came to Washington in 1951 where he worked for the CIA for three years as a Covert Operations Officer. He returned to Washington in 1958 as an Associate of the New York law firm of Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett and to work in John Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Appointed by President Kennedy as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Capital Transportation Agency from 1961 to 1964, he helped lead a crucial battle that prevented interstate highways from bisecting Washington.

From 1964 to 1968, he worked as the General Counsel for the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development, and contributed to the establishment of the Asian Development Bank. From 1977 to 1981 he served as Chairman of the Intelligence Oversight Board during the Carter administration. From 1970 to 1994 he was partner in the law firm Prather, Seeger, Doolittle and Farmer.

Born in 1923 in Berlin, to an American father and a German Jewish mother, Tom Farmer came with his parents to New York City in 1933. He graduated from Great Neck High School in 1940 and from Harvard College (A.B. 1943), where he was a member of the Editorial Board of the Harvard Crimson. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 and worked as a member of the Military Intelligence Division of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Washington. He then read Law at Brasenose College, Oxford (LL.B. 1948) and at Harvard Law School (LL.M. 1950).

Tom Farmer was deeply involved in developing relations between the United States and Germany in the Postwar era. In 1983 he helped found the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies as a Director and Secretary-Treasurer, and was a Trustee until his death. In 1994, with Henry Kissinger and German President Richard von Weizscker, he helped found the American Academy in Berlin, served as its Founding Chairman until succeeded by Richard Holbrooke, and continued as a Trustee until his death. In 1993 he became the only non-German appointed to the Treuhandanstalt, the “Trust agency” of the Federal Republic of Germany after reunification in 1990, and helped implement privatization of the state-owned coal industry in the former East Germany. He received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1997.
He is survived by his wife, Wanda Walton, his three children: Daniel, Sarah and Elspeth, and five grandchildren. A prior marriage to Elizabeth Midgley ended in divorce.*

And from The Washington Post:

Thomas L. Farmer, a Washington lawyer who represented banking interests in his professional life and fought freeway construction through the nation’s capital as a civic activist, died Feb. 5 at his home in the District. He was 91.

The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurodegenerative disease, said a daughter, Sarah Farmer.

From 1970 to 2002, Mr. Farmer was general counsel to the Bankers Association for Foreign Trade, and for two years after that, he was senior counsel for international finance for the American Bankers Association.

He was chairman of the advisory board of the National Capital Transportation Agency from 1961 to 1964 and, about that time, he also helped form a citizens group called the Northwest Committee for Transportation Planning.

With the committee, he was a leader in a successful battle to block the construction of interstate highways through the city. Highway opponents argued that a network of interstate freeways would have torn up the city and destroyed neighborhoods.

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