Jan 24 2013

The Closing of the Motor Parkway and the Current Utilization of the Right-Of-Way

Over the course of the thirty year history from 1908 to 1938, the Motor Parkway became a conduit for the development of Long Island and heralded the transformation of the Island from a rural area to a suburb.

At the peak of its popularity from 1924 to 1930, more than 150,000 cars annually traveled on the Parkway. However, even when business was booming, the Parkway was a money losing proposition. In an effort to keep it open, Vanderbilt made numerous loans to the Long Island Motor Parkway Corporation. Vanderbilt and his associates never got made a profit on their estimated $5 million investment. In 1929, a group of Nassau County millionaires encouraged the state to purchase the Parkway rather than build the Northern State Parkway through their properties.   Noting its narrow 22-foot width and sharp curves, Robert Moses, then head of the Long Island Park Commission, described the Long Island Motor Parkway as a white elephant that will “be given to Nassau and Suffolk counties for nothing some day.”

The crushing impact of the Depression coupled with the ever-expanding free New York State parkway system effectively sealed the late of the narrow, winding Parkway. On June 16, 1937, Moses’ prediction came true when Vanderbilt offered the Parkway to the public. It officially closed on Easter Sunday on April 17, 1938. After it closed, the 44-mile right of way was turned over to Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties in return for the cancellation of $80,000 back taxes.

Seventy-Five years later, the three counties have vastly different uses of the Motor Parkway right-of-way.


Howard Kroplick


Jan 25 2013 Kenneth J. Harris 8:57 AM

Thanks for the excellent summary!


Jan 27 2013 S. Berliner, III 3:22 PM

You omitted the partially-buried but intact 1911 Wheeler Farmway bridge just east of Springfield Boulevard in Queens and the inaccessible-but-very-much-extant eastern Clody Farmway bridge in the sandpits immediately east of the Nassau-Suffolk County line.

Because the former can be visited, even explored, and the latter seen with a scope, I feel they should be listed.

Sam, III

Jan 28 2013 Howard Kroplick 7:55 PM

Sam III, good catch. You are 100% correct.

Howard I

Jan 28 2013 Ted 11:26 PM

Haven’t had the time to comment on anything for the last couple of days,to busy looking at everything till now. There’s one comment I have to say,which is the one and only thing about this site and I said it before there’s never a dull moment,something new all the time and everybody tries to help out to clear things up. Anyhow,I don’t need to comment anyway,you get enough from everyone else,they know more about what’s going on than I do,they’ve been at it longer than I have.I only learned about the Vanderbilt Cup Races when Howard bought The Black Beast and went to car shows with it,that’s when it all caught my interest,now I can’t enough of it,

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