Mar 01 2016

William A. Bellmer Article: “The Long Island Motor Parkway in Garden City”

For the January 2016 newsletter of the Garden City Eastern Property Owners Association, village historian William A. Bellmer wrote this article on the Motor Parkway.


Howard Kroplick

Photo caption: The Motor Parkway bridge over Clinton Rd. with the first Manager’s office and the Garden City Lodge (no porte-cochere yet) at right and the Roosevelt Field buildings upper right. Circa 1926. Courtesy of the Garden City Archives.

The Long Island Motor Parkway

William A. Bellmer

When William Vanderbilt, Jr. built his limited-access parkway from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma in the 1910s, in order to avoid the estates of Old Westbury he brought it south into Garden City and then east across the Hempstead Plains to its destination. The roadway and nascent adjoining airfield east of Clinton Rd. defined the East, otherwise undeveloped at that time.

The roadway tunneled under Old Country Rd. (which was two lanes wide at the time), entered Garden City between the present houses on Russell Rd. and Pell Terrace, and continued almost to Kingsbury where it made a broad turn to cross Clinton on a concrete bridge.

On the east side of Clinton a Parkway access road was established, now called Vanderbilt Court, with a gatekeeper’s house (called a toll lodge) that would ultimately be moved to Seventh St. for our Chamber of Commerce

The Parkway Manager’s office was also located on the access road, replaced in 1929 by a new building, adjacent to Clinton, that still exists as a private residence.

North of what is now Transverse Rd. abutments were constructed for a proposed bridge over the Parkway to connect the properties west and east of it. They still exist in the backyards of the residences, next to the filled-in roadway depression.

When the Parkway was closed in 1938, the first thing to go was the Clinton Road Bridge, the source of many accidents due to its three-portal layout.

The 50-foot right-of-way from Old Country Road to Clinton Road was subsequently divided up and sold to the properties on Russell and Pell that backed on it.

East of Clinton, however, the roadway still exists, from the top of the remaining bridge embankment, past the north end of Raymond Court,  almost to the exit roadway from Roosevelt Field at Stewart Ave. Accessed from Clinton or Raymond Ct., this section is now a bucolic walk in the woods, which one would scarcely believe is in the middle of the bustle surrounding it. It’s hard to imagine that once there were no trees at all. Efforts have been made to turn it into a Village walking trail, so far to no avail.

The west part of this section is owned by the Village, while the east part has been recently sold by the County to Roosevelt Field owner Simon Properties, who is developing part of its acquisition with the Maggiano’s restaurant on Ring Rd. 


Mar 06 2016 James Spina 7:20 AM

How quickly Garden City seems to be willing to sacrifice their part of this historic roadway in order to play a part in the ongoing malling of america.

Mar 28 2016 Chris Battestin 6:16 PM

Make them leave the sacred road alone!

Leave a Comment