Oct 13 2009

Long Island History Journal Book Reviews My Favorite Two Books

The Fall 2009 issue of Long Island History Journal provides reviews of my favorite two books Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island and Long Island Motor Parkway . This journal is published by the Center for Global & Local History, Stony Brook University, Department of History.

Highlights of the reviews that were written by Catherine Ball are as follows:

These two books have been published by Arcadia Publishing Company, which has a set formula for content and layout patterns, and produces affordable books that bring local history to life through photographs. Kroplick’s The Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island (with a foreword by former Vanderbilt Museum archivist Florence Ogg) is organized into eight chapters, which detail William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. setting the stage for the competition, individual races, and one chapter describing the need for and construction of the Long Island Motor Parkway. The details are interesting but do not overwhelm and there is enough description accompanying each photograph to give the reader a balanced sense of clarity and knowledge.

The Long Island Motor Parkway is a collaborative effort between Howard Kroplick and Al Velocci. This book covers its complex subject quite exhaustively despite the confines of the Arcadia format. The need for the Parkway is discussed, along with the establishment of the corporation that oversaw its construction, and the ground-breaking ceremonies are detailed. Then its construction and its use for the races are covered. The parkway’s life after the Vanderbilt Cup Races takes up most of the rest of the book, with a final chapter devoted to memorabilia. One leaves this book with an excellent grasp of a roadway that was a forerunner to modern transportation and the paved Long Island that we see today, as well as an understanding of a bit of how it came about and to what end.

Howard Kroplick and Al Velocci are serious researchers who have devoted many hours to the mastery of their topics. Al has already published The Toll Lodges of the Long Island Motor Parkway, and Their Gatekeepers’ Lives (2004), and Howard has amassed the largest collection of Vanderbilt Cup Race memorabilia in existence, including a real auto, the Alco-6 “Black Beast,” driven in the races. He maintains a fascinating website (www.vanderbiltcupraces.com) and lectures on the races. Both these gentlemen are at the forefront of the effort to unearth the hidden parkway. They are to be commended on these outstanding latest efforts.

Both Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island and Long Island Motor Parkway can be purchased online at Arcadia.com .


Leave a Comment