Feb 26 2013

“Champion of the Parkway” Presented at the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society Meeting

Prominent Queens historian Robert Miller will be presenting “The Long Island Motor Parkway: A Trip Back in Time” at the next meeting of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2013 beginning at 7:30 PM at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage. Everyone is welcome to the meeting. Please bring your friends and neighbors to hear Bob’s wonderful commentary on the Motor Parkway. 

An advocate for the Motor Parkway for over 30 years, Robert was described in the New York Times in 2002 as a "champion of the parkway.Through slide shows and walking tours, he has campaigned relentlessly to prove the parkway's historical importance."


Finally, Some Respect For a Pioneer Parkway

By JIM O'GRADY New York Times
Published: March 17, 2002

Had you been out for a stroll through Cunningham Park or Alley Pond Park on certain days during the last 33 years, you would have seen people bicycling and jogging on a worn concrete path. You would also have seen Robert Miller on his knees, measuring the dimensions of the concrete.

Mr. Miller, 57, was trying to figure out the width and location of the long-gone Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the first road in America built solely for cars. The concrete slabs in the two parks are remnants of the parkway, which was once the scene of Model T cruising and early motorcar races.

Mr. Miller is the champion of the parkway. Through slide shows and walking tours, he has campaigned relentlessly to prove the parkway's historical importance.

''You have to get yourself into an old-time mind-set to understand the magnitude of it,'' he said of the road, which William Vanderbilt Jr., grandson of Cornelius Vanberbilt, began building in 1908. By the 1920's, it stretched 48 miles from what is now Peck Avenue and the Long Island Expressway in Fresh Meadows, Queens, to Lake Ronkonkoma, L.I.

For years, few shared Mr. Miller's fervor. But his cause received support in January, when the Queens part of the road was placed on the New York State Register of Historical Places. It had been turned down by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1999.

Mr. Miller was pleased, to say the least. ''It made me think, 'Yes, my life has made a difference here on earth.' ''

William Vanderbilt Jr. built the first 12 miles of the parkway for the Vanderbilt Cup, an early motorcar race. He reasoned that a concrete road would be safer than the dirt roads on which the race had been held. But in 1910, part of the crowd surged onto the course; 4 spectators were killed and 20 injured.

After that, Vanderbilt lengthened the parkway and operating it strictly as a toll road for pleasure traffic. It reached its 48-mile length in 1926, and featured Vanderbilt's private motorcycle police, who would escort daredevil drivers to the nearest exit.

In the early 1930's, local government began building free roads for cars. The Parkway closed in 1938.

Martha Taylor, a member of the Friends of Cunningham Park, which raised money to preserve what remains of the road, said her group planned to hold a dedication for the road at the park this spring. ''We'll try to get some antique cars,'' she said.



On Thursday, Robert Miller will be providing the answers to these Motor Parkway questions: What incident during the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race was the catalyst for the Motor Parkway? Where was the original western terminus for the Motor Parkway? Why wasn't William K. Vanderbilt Jr. at the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Motor Parkway? Who was the salesman for the Motor Parkway before it opened? What were the pioneering features of the Motor Parkway? What were the unusual features of the initial design for the toll lodges? How many toll collection structures were built by the Long Island Motor Parkway, Inc.? In 2007, Queens historian Robert Miller with Fred Hadley put together this excellent 21-minute tour of the Long Island Motor Parkway from Lake Ronkonkoma to Queens.


Howard Kroplick


Feb 05 2013 Ted 4:07 PM

One of these days I will take the stroll thru Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park,I’ve been wanting to since that day we had the drive thru it with the Model A Club ,but never got a chance to yet,I wil do it as soon as the weather gets better,then I’ll know what you guys are talking about and have a better understansding what’s going on. Enjoyed the videos on Wendell Scott and the race cars of yesterdays,I use to watch those cars race at Freeport and Islip Speedways,that brought back memories of my younger days

Feb 17 2013 Rick Jorgensen 11:30 PM

Thank you for sharing this great video

Feb 27 2013 Ted 3:16 PM

Looking forward to tomorrows presentation to hear the answers to those questions and probably a few more.

Feb 27 2013 Ted 6:02 PM

Just watched that 21 minute film,very good coverage,as usual,thanks alot

Mar 01 2013 Howard Kroplick 1:28 PM

From Jim Barnes:

“Great program last night.”

Mar 01 2013 Ted 11:05 PM

What a presentation that was,so much to know and yet to find out about,if it’s not too late already and to try to preserve it

Mar 03 2013 Lou 10:11 AM

Thanks Robert Miller for all of your efforts and thanks Howard for providing this video on your site !!

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