While researching yesterday's post on the 73rd Avenue Bridge, I discovered a fascinating Motor Parkway statement in the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway Guide developed by the New York City Parks Department. Take a look:
Brooklyn-Queens Greenway Guide (page 63)
This is one of the most historically rich segments of the Greenway. It travels through the outer reaches of the old Flushing township to Little Neck Bay, encountering Fort Totten and the Throgs Neck Bridge. The segment begins by running through the corridor of the historic Long Island Motor Parkway, known as the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway.
The idea for the Parkway was prompted in 1906 by William K. Vanderbilt Jr., a descendant of the family that presided over the New York Central Railroad and Western Union. Vanderbilt conceived of the route as a raceway, but it also served as a fast track for the wealthy to their estates on Long Island. Later, during the 1920s and prohibition, the route became known as Rum-Runners Road, since as a private road it was so frequently used by bootleggers outrunning the police.
It was featured in the 1937 movie Topper, starring Cary Grant. The movie is worth renting to get a sense of the pastoral landscape of the area 60 years ago. You’ll find the area is now built over with neat-as-a-pin middle-class houses.
In the 1930s, Robert Moses undercut the Vanderbilt by constructing the free-of-toll Northern State Parkway. With its revenue severely reduced, the Vanderbilt shut down in 1938, to be shortly resurrected by Moses as a recreational path.
The Motor Parkway in "Topper"? I never heard that one before. In the film, the Kerbys, played by Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, are driving on Long Island heading to New York City.
Also, can anyone identify the amazing car driven by Cary Grant?
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