Clearview Expressway

4.9 miles

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

The Clearview Expressway connects the Throgs Neck Bridge with major east-west thoroughfares, including the Long Island Expressway (LIE), that traverse Queens and Long Island. Original plans for the expressway called for a six-lane highway that would run south from the bridge to the LIE, largely along the routes of Utopia Parkway and Francis Lewis Boulevard.

In 1955, the construction plans were made public and local communities protested that the expressway would have a negative effect on their neighborhoods. The following year, a revised plan routed the new highway slightly east of where the 1955 plan had situated it. Fortunately for residents, the number of displaced homes was reduced by more than half.

Between the Throgs Neck Bridge and the LIE, the expressway’s six 12-foot-wide lanes were built below street level. The new expressway provided an important commercial link between Long Island and I-95 (which runs along the entire eastern seaboard), and it thereby qualified as part of the Interstate Highway System. As such, 90% of the cost of construction was subsidized by federal funds.

Actual work on the Clearview Expressway began in 1957, and was supposed to be finished by 1965. However, construction was accelerated in order to finish the work in time for the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows. Indeed, the first section that ran between the bridge and Fresh Meadows (including the LIE interchange) was completed in 1960. Three years later, the rest of the expressway was completed. Although it is a fairly short thoroughfare, it is a crucial connection between Long Island and the rest of the northeast, and it carries close to 100,000 vehicles daily.

The Clearview Expressway branches off the Throgs Neck Bridge into the neighborhood of Bay Terrace. Bay Terrace, the Queens community which is bordered by Little Bay and Little Neck Bay to the north and the neighborhood of Bayside to the south, was originally the combined estates of three influential Bayside families.

In 1823, Charles Willet bought 170 acres of the land overlooking Little Neck Bay and named it Willets Point. The land changed hands several times, and was eventually developed into the commercial and middle- and high-income residential area that it is today. The area was renamed Bay Terrace after nearby Bayside.

Bayside itself was originally home to the Matinecock Indians, and Englishman William Lawrence founded the first European community on the site in 1664. It was part of the 1644 land parcels that Charles I had granted to his supporters. Consequently, the majority of Bayside settlers were Tories, sympathizing with the British during the American Revolutionary War.

In the mid-19th century, many wealthy New York families built mansions in Bayside. In the 1920s and 1930s, many of these estates were dissolved to make way for new residents. Bayside saw significant post-war construction of bridges and highways, as with the Clearview Expressway. In the 1950s, large apartment complexes sprung up in the neighborhood. Today the community has a primarily middle-class suburban flavor, and in recent years has seen the growth of its Chinese, Korean, and Indian populations.

Wednesday, Dec 19, 2001

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