Hutchinson River Parkway

Hutchinson River Parkway

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

This parkway is named for Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), a woman whose intelligence and conviction made her an exile in life but a model of perseverance for generations after her death. Although the exact date of her birth cannot be precisely determined, church records indicate that she was baptized Anne Marbury on July 20, 1591, in Alford, Lincolnshire, England. Anne’s father, a taciturn clergyman, encouraged her education and she read exhaustively from an early age. In 1612, she married a merchant named William Hutchinson and they immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony (modern-day Greater Boston) in 1634.

An able nurse, Hutchinson cared for many women in Boston. She also organized regular meetings where women discussed recent sermons as well as broader issues in religion and theology. These sessions quickly grew from casual meetings of like-minded women to large events, which drew the attention of ministers and magistrates. Hutchinson’s religious philosophy stressed the importance of the individual’s direct and inscrutable relationship with God. Hutchinson’s ideas stood in strong contrast to the teachings of the Boston clergy which advocated institutional religious practices. Ironically, it was her dissident voice that most closely echoed the founding tenets of Calvinism rather than those of the Puritan ministers who laid claim to it.

At first, Hutchinson's criticism of the Massachusetts Puritans and the clergy received the support of many Bostonians. Massachusetts Bay Colony Deputy Governor John Winthrop, (1588-1649) opposed her views, and Hutchinson lost much of her support after he won election as governor. In 1637, Winthrop presided over the court that found her guilty of “traducing moral law” and banished her from Boston. Authorities expected Hutchinson to recant after living in exile in Roxbury, Massachusetts during 1637 and 1638, but she did not. She was then tried before the Boston Church and formally exiled from the Colony.

Hutchinson and some of her followers left Massachusetts in 1638, and settled on land within modern-day Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Religious controversy brewed once again in Hutchinson’s new settlement, and after her husband died in 1642 she was pressured to move again. She found more liberal neighbors in the Dutch settlements further south, and her family settled on a riverbank near Pelham Bay, New York. This area was subsequently known as “Annie’s Hoeck” for some time after her death.

In 1643, a band of indigenous Weckquaesgecks attacked Hutchinson’s settlement. She was killed along with her servants and all but one of her children. When word of the event reached Massachusetts, those who had banished Hutchinson deemed it a manifestation of divine judgment upon her heretical soul. The Dutch, however, continued to show sympathy as they had done during her life. They went so far as to stipulate the return of Hutchinson’s remaining daughter as a condition of a peace treaty they negotiated with her captors.

The Hutchinson River and the adjacent parkway honor the woman who settled and died here over three centuries ago. Construction for the parkway began in 1924 and lasted until 1941. It was originally constructed as an undivided, limited-access parkway without at-grade crossings. The Hutchinson River Parkway, like many of those built in the 1920s, possessed gently sloping curves, stone-arch bridges, and wooden lightposts. In December 1927, the initial two-mile section of the parkway was completed. By October 1928, eleven miles of the parkway were opened between US 1 in Pelham and Westchester Avenue in White Plains. This section of the parkway, which included bridle paths along the parkway right-of-way, as well as a riding academy where the public could rent horses, cost $12 million to construct.

In 1936, New York master builder Robert Moses (1888-1981) decided to build more parkways in the Bronx and Westchester. A year later, the Hutchinson River Parkway was extended north from White Plains to King Street (NY 120A) in Rye Brook, on the New York-Connecticut border. The southern extension of the Hutchinson River Parkway into the Bronx was completed in 1941. The Hutchinson River Parkway underwent many renovations over the next 60 years. In 1984, sight distances were improved, some curves were straightened, acceleration and deceleration lanes were lengthened, and the rustic lightposts were removed. By the 1990’s, the Hutchinson River Parkway was handling approximately 110,000 vehicles per day and growing volume demanded new construction beyond the I-287 / I-684 interchange in Harrison. The $38 million improvement that began in 1999 was completed in March 2002.

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