Cunningham Park

NYC PARKS CUTS THE RIBBON ON FIRST PHASE OF RECONSTRUCTION TO HISTORIC VANDERBILT MOTOR PARKWAY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 20, 2021
No. 130
http://www.nyc.gov/parks

Friday, December 17, 2021 – NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senator John Liu, Assembly Member Nily Rozic, Council Member Barry Grodenchik, Community Board 8 Chair Martha Taylor, and President of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society Howard Kroplick to cut the ribbon on the first phase of reconstruction of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Alley Pond Park. Originally built in 1908 as a racecourse by the railroad mogul and financier William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., today the path serves as a scenic bike and pedestrian walkway that connects Cunningham and Alley Pond Parks in Eastern Queens.


“The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is both a recreational asset and a living piece of New York City history – and now this bike and pedestrian path has received the makeover it deserves,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “Thanks to $1.4 million from Council Member Grodenchik and additional $415,000 from Mayor Bill de Blasio, this popular path now features about a mile of new asphalt, rustic fencing, and new benches, ensuring it will last for generations to come.”


“The Vanderbilt Long Island Motor Parkway had not been repaved in decades and was in desperate need of an upgrade,“ said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “My advocacy for this project was driven by the frequent requests I received from local residents for whom the path provides a clean, safe, quiet place for exercise and recreation; the ongoing pandemic only reinforces the importance of access to outdoor public space. I thank the mayor for providing the funding that will allow the remainder of the path to be resurfaced and the parks department for doing a magnificent job on the first stretch."

The reconstruction project was funded with $1.85 million total, including $1.435 million from Council Member Grodenchik and an additional $415,000 from Mayor de Blasio. This project is the first phase of work that includes the reconstruction of 0.8 miles of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway from Winchester Boulevard by the entrance to Alley Pond Park to Springfield Boulevard. The scope of work includes new asphalt pavement, new rustic timber guide rail, benches, trees and shrub plantings.

A second phase of renovations, funded by Mayor de Blasio with $3.685 million will address the additional 2 miles of parkway, from Springfield Boulevard to 199th Street. It is expected to begin construction next year.

The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, also known as Long Island Motor Parkway, survives today as a bicycle path, but began as America’s first all-elevated road for cars. Originally built in 1908 as a racecourse by the railroad mogul and financier William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. (1878-1944), the Parkway would later develop into a major public thoroughfare. It was one of the first concrete roads in the nation, the first highway to use bridges and overpasses, and the first high-speed route from Queens to Suffolk County. The Parkway’s largely untold history is filled with intrigue: race cars, bootlegging, historic preservation efforts, and public controversy.

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