You are reading

City Completes Revamp of Historic Stretch of Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Alley Pond Park

The Parks Dept. has completed a $1.85 million revamp of a section of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Oakland Gardens. Pictured are attendees at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event Friday (NYC Parks/ Daniel Avila)

The Parks Dept. has completed a $1.85 million revamp of a section of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Oakland Gardens. Pictured are attendees at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event Friday (NYC Parks/ Daniel Avila)

Dec. 22, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

The Parks Dept. has completed a $1.85 million revamp of a historic section of pathway that goes through Alley Pond Park in Oakland Gardens – and several officials visited the area last Friday to hold a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event.

The section of pathway — which runs 0.8 miles from the entrance of Alley Pond Park on Winchester Boulevard to Springfield Boulevard — has undergone a major overhaul with a new asphalt pavement, guide rails, benches, trees and shrubs put down.

The pathway forms part of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, which was one of the first concrete roads in the nation for automobiles having been built more than a century ago, according to the Parks Dept.

Council Member Barry Grodenchik allocated $1.44 million in city funds toward the project, with Mayor Bill de Blasio adding $415,000 from the city budget.

Grodenchik said that the parkway had not been repaved in decades and was in desperate need of an upgrade.

“The path provides a clean, safe, quiet place for exercise and recreation,” Grodenchik said at the ceremony. “The ongoing pandemic only reinforces the importance of access to outdoor public space.”

The city has revamped a section of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Oakland Gardens (NYC Parks/ Daniel Avila)

NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Nily Rozic also attended the ceremony.

The project forms part one of a two-phase redevelopment of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway that connects Alley Pond Park to Cunningham Park.

The second phase, which is expected to cost $3.7 million, will see the renovation of two additional miles of parkway from Springfield Boulevard to 199th Street. Funding for this phase is coming from the mayor’s office.

The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway has a rich history and was originally built as a private racetrack in 1908 by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., a railroad mogul and financier. Vanderbilt was the great-grandson of the railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt.

The private parkway was opened to the public as a toll road in 1912 and stretched 45-miles from Fresh Meadows in Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County.

It was the first long-distance concrete highway in the U.S. to have bridges and overpasses — and was used primarily by the city’s elite commuting to their Long Island estates, according to the Parks Dept.

The parkway acquired the nickname “Rumrunner’s Road” during Prohibition as bootleggers often used it to dodge the police. The parkway was closed down in 1938 after becoming outdated and insolvent.

The route was then deeded over to New York City as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Queens section was turned into a bicycle path.

Fialkoff said that the current redevelopments will preserve the pathway for generations.

“The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is both a recreational asset and a living piece of New York City history and… has received the makeover it deserves,” Fialkoff said.

Community Board 8 Chair Martha Taylor and Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society President Howard Kroplick also attended the ceremony.

Attendees at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event Friday marking the revamp of a section of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Oakland Gardens.(NYC Parks/ Daniel Avila)

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. pictured in 1911 with his racing cap and goggles on (Photo via Wiki Commons)

The parkway once stretched 45-miles from Fresh Meadows in the Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County (Google Maps)

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Five Queens startups win $20,000 each in 2024 Tech + Innovation Challenge

May. 19, 2024 By Czarinna Andres

A diverse range of businesses, including a yoga studio, an olive oil distributor, a female health care provider, a sustainable mushroom farmer, and an AI-powered physical therapy service, have been named winners of the 2024 Queens Tech + Innovation Challenge (QTIC). Each winner will receive a $20,000 grant to support their business operations.

QBP Richards, advocates rally to demand Mayor Adams restore funding to City’s libraries

May. 17, 2024 By Gabriele Holtermann

A rally was held at the Queens Public Library at Forest Hills on May 16, during which Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott, union reps and library advocates called on Mayor Eric Adams to reverse the proposed $58.3 million budget cuts to the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and the Queens Public Library (QBL) for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1, 2024.

Queens elected officials secure $70 million from New York State Budget for school safety equipment in religious and independent schools

May. 17, 2024 By Anthony Medina

Religious and independent schools throughout the city will soon receive additional funding for school safety equipment, thanks to Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who, after extensive advocacy efforts, successfully secured $70 million from the New York State Budget for 2024-25 for Non-Public School Safety Equipment (NPSE) grants.