Nov 21 2015

Sam & Dave’s “Excellent Motor Parkway Adventure” VIII: On to Deadman’s Curve

On April 4, 2015, Dave Russo and his 10-year old son Sam experienced a one-day 38-mile bike tour on the Long Island Motor Parkway. In the eighth post of this series, Sammy and Dave continued their exploration from Levittown to Deadman's Curve in Bethpage.


Howard Kroplick

Sammy & Dave's "Excellent Motor Parkway Adventure"

By Dave Russo

April 5, 2015

My name is Dave Russo from Rockville Centre. Last summer my 9-year old son Sammy started playing travel baseball and had his practices were held in Cunningham Park in Queens. During practice I would go on runs through the area and came across the Motor Parkway. So this sparked a little flame in my head as I am a fan of Long Island history in general, specifically the old mansions and remnants of them.
I began to research the Motor Parkway (which I thought was only a Suffolk County thing that is still used today) and came across your site and others and was just amazed at the history of this road. So my son and I took little trips to various locations on the route and familiarized ourselves with the road and what it had to offer, often meeting people who live right on the road itself with zero knowledge of it or it's fantastic history. So we educate them and they are always very impressed.
So the two of us since then have really become Long Island Motor  Parkway buffs and have seen everything there is to see from Queens to Melville. Queens offers one glimpse as NYC has maintained the road. Bridges remain, entrance ramps are there, and posts are everywhere but it was built later and although preserved and nice it lacks that "throwback historical" feel of the original road. In Nassau as you know the power lines were run which in one sense ruined the road but in another preserved the authenticity of the original road and so much of it is still visible and the fact that you can go there and see it and imagine a time when tens of thousands of people were standing behind the posts/fence watching this annual race in otherwise farmland filled Long Island is very impressive. Equally impressive is how few people know of this at all and major locations that should be of historical interest like the bridges, lodges, the grandstand are completely neglected or not known.
 So yesterday, we did our long awaited "Vanderbilt Day" where we got up early and got a ride to Queens with our bikes and rode from the Queens beginning all the way to the Maxess Road Bridge in Melville in one day. It was about 38 miles total and we had a great time! (followed by dinner at Friendlys!) .I have become close with an older couple who live directly next to the Old Courthouse Road bridge who took us in for tea and cake and have lived there since farmland was on the other side. We visited Arthur Jesper in Garden City and he showed us his backyard. We have pictures of everything. We have many favorite locations.
 I've been visiting your page for a while now, checking for updates all the time. If there are any pics you are in need of or any part of the Parkway that you need further detailed exploration of we are your team! There is nothing that intimidates us and we love the challenge! We trespass the right way, by simply asking permission. We've never been told no. My little 10-year old is pretty cute and nobody can say no to him. The Sand Pits Bridge was high on our list until the recent pics arrived on your site which took the pressure off of us. Those were great to see.
 Dave & Sammy Russo

Crossing Wantagh Avenue

Big void again, cross Jerusalem Ave through some ball fields, through a bunch of back yards again, cross Wantagh Ave, through a parking lot, across Hicksville Road, then the right-of-way for the Central branch of the Long Island Rail Road. The Motor Parkway ran parallel to LIRR in this section on the left, approximately to the left of the fence line.

A nice street sign.

Stewart Avenue (Formerly Jerusalem Road)

Historical marker of location of ground breaking for the Parkway. A good spot.

View from on top of the embankment from the forner Jerusalem Road Bridge looking west. The ground-breaking ceremony for the Motor Parkway took place directly across the street.

Cool road remnants.

Deadman's Curve in Bethpage

Sammy's favorite spot!

Love seeing the old pics of this place during the 1908 races and then to stand there and imagine what it was like.

Awesome that it's still there.


Nov 22 2015 chris lindsley 1:42 AM

great pics…just one note…the road actually is NOT at the fence line. It runs through people’s backyards. I had the privilege of viewing the road in someone’s backyard right in that area. Sad and cool at the same time

Nov 22 2015 Hector gavilla 6:22 AM

Great photos and video. Thanks for sharing!!! I thought I was the only one checking out these spots. Lol.

Nov 22 2015 James & Gram Spina 6:34 AM

As Howard can attest, my son Gram and I made an ongoing journey much like this some years ago…and Gram, 9 or 10 at the time, concurred that Deadman’s Curve was his favorite part of the Vanderbilt as well. My grandfather worked on the road at that spot and, in fact, bought land just to the left of where you are and built a wonderful brick house just a block or so away.

Nov 22 2015 Brian D McCarthy 11:10 AM

20+ years ago I visited the Garden City Chamber of Commerce on 7th St (original toll structure). After leaving a donation of course, I explored the museum. There was another visitor who thought “I was too young to be interested in this stuff”. He could see I was genuinely interested. And then he said “You have been bitten by the motor pkwy bug”. And yes I am. So Dave, I say too you; “You have been bitten by the LIMP bug”. Your video is a nice touch.

Nov 22 2015 S. Berliner, III 8:11 PM

Love these adventures.  I am SOOOOOO OLD that I actually drove on the DMC!  Well - sort of - see <>.  Keep posting!  “Old” Sam, III

Nov 22 2015 Dave Russo 10:00 PM

Once again I sincerely think it’s amazing that after 107 years this road remains in tact like this. I know it’s crazy but I greatly prefer these Nassau County parkway remnant locations over the Queens maintained portions. I definitely think the county needs to preserve this road, but not mess with it.

The Bethpage section starting at the Stewart Ave abutment (where it all began) and going all the way through the Bethpage Restoration to the bridge is just a wonderful stretch. I highly recommend it. Bring your kids out and start exploring!

Brian you are completely correct. Every time Sammy and I drive past a Motor Parkway location we both give it a salute. It’s a special thing for us. I have never been inside the GC Toll lodge. It’s been closed every time I’ve been there. Anything good to see in there? I have met some people who grew up in GC and claim that the lodge, before it was moved, was a fantastic meeting location / drinking spot.

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