Motor Parkway overpass, 73rd Avenue at 199th Street, Fresh Meadows
While making your way through the southeastern part of Fresh Meadows as you get close to Cunningham Park, you may spot the occasional white-painted overpass crossing the street. They’re not old railroad trestles or park paths… instead, they mark one of America’s very first parkways designed for automobile traffic.
In 1904, the auto age had arrived in Long Island and industrialist heir William Kissam Vanderbilt helped ring it in with a road race that became known as the Vanderbilt Cup Race. It was one of the very first auto races and attracted drivers from the world over.
The Cup Race was run in Nassau County on Jericho Turnpike, Bethpage Turnpike and Hempstead Turnpike–all now busy highways but in those days they were farm-to-market, unpaved roads.
Over the weekend NY1 profiled Joby Jacob, the man behind the Motor Parkway East proposal. Recently he launched a petition asking state and local agencies to extend the Motor Parkway Greenway eastward toward Glen Oaks. As Jacob points out in the video, all the Motor Parkway land is already in city hands, it’s just a matter of connecting it into a cohesive greenway. Currently, pedestrian access to the Motor Parkway ends at Winchester Boulevard. The petition now has close to 200 signatures. You can check out the full video right here.
Everybody’s talking about the QueensWay, but did you know there’s another greenway proposed for Eastern Queens? The organization Motor Parkway East recently started a petition asking state and local agencies to extend the Motor Parkway Greenway eastward. Currently, the Motor Parkway ends right at Winchester Boulevard — this makes it impossible for pedestrians to get to the greenway easily without a car. The organization proposed to create a crossing at Winchester Boulevard and to connect the path all the way to 74th Avenue.
Here’s some background info on this thoroughfare: William Kissam Vanderbilt helped build the Motor Parkway as an expressway in 1910. It stretched into Long Island and ultimately ran for 45 miles. According to this Forgotten New York article, “Vanderbilt turned the Parkway over to New York State in 1938 in exchange for back taxes, without having made a cent of profit.” The Queens portion is mostly intact and is now operating as a bicycle and pedestrian path from Cunningham Park east to Winchester Boulevard. It’s maintained by the Parks Department. The bridge over Winchester Boulevard, however, was demolished due to development, breaking off the connection to neighborhoods in eastern Queens.
Here’s what the petition says: “Tell State (OMH, DOT) and Local Agencies (NYC Parks, NYC DOT) to work together to expand the Motor Parkway eastward towards Glen Oaks. A very detailed plan on how to make it happen is given on www.motorparkwayeast.com – this plan involves just the state and city cooperating, no eminent domain would be needed.” So far there are more than 100 supporters.