Jun 30 2012

Central Park Historical Society to Honor the Long Island Motor Parkway

Members of the Central Park Historical Society have informed me that they plan to honor the Motor Parkway with two historical markers; one on Stewart Avenue the site of the 1908 Ground-Breaking Ceremony and another at the site of the Central Avenue/Railroad Motor Parkway Bridge. In appreciation, here are images of the crowds at the ceremony courtesy of the Garden City Archives.

Approximately 500 people were in attendance on June 6, 1908 to listen to speeches from dignitaries and witness the ceremonial turn of earth. Not all present that day came by auto. The horse and bicycle were well represented. A large number of well-dressed women carrying umbrellas also turned out on what was a bright sunny day. Hosting the activities and welcoming the crowd from what was described as “a rough grandstand” was A.R. Pardington, general manager of the Motor Parkway.


Howard Kroplick

Fun day at Motor Parkway Day at Old Bethpage Village Restoration...photos, videos and news clips to be posted next week. 

View looking northeast- Jerusalem Road (Now Stewart Avenue) in background, temporary Motor Parkway engineering office on far left

Russell A. Field, the secretary of the Long Island Automobile Club and the automobile editor for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, extolled the benefits of what roads such as the Parkway would do touring and sightseeing and at the same time provide a safe venue for automobile racing and other speed contests. Another speaker was Judge William H. Hotchkiss, President of the American Automobile Association. An ardent automobilist, his well-chosen words prophetically foresaw how automobile ownership would someday be within the reach of the everyday working man. “Such roads, limited to the new vehicle especially constructed for it, like the railroad, have become necessary, and the Long Island Motor Parkway is the first of such roads anywhere in the world. A view of the crowd shows there were as many horses as automobiles at the ceremony.

View looking east to Jerusalem Road. Note the warning sign for the Central Railroad in the background.

The original plan called for William K. Vanderbilt Jr. to make a speech and turn the sod, but the sudden and grave illness of his stepfather, Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, kept him away. A.R. Pardington, general manager of the Motor Parkway, read from Vanderbilt’s prepared remarks. Judge Hotchkiss addressing the crowd.

Closeups of the crowd

View looking southeast

Workers continue their work after the ceremony.


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