Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Announcement of Planned Extension of the Hutchinson River Parkway in 1940


By 1940, there no longer was any pretense that the roadway was a lovely "parkway."  No, by 1940, the Hutchinson River Parkway was considered a potential "super-highway" that needed a major extension to permit New Yorkers to avoid congested streets and boulevards for outings in Westchester County, Connecticut, and Southern New England.  In barely a decade, the nature of the roadway was transformed from its original conception as a lovely "parkway" for Sunday afternoon jaunts into a major automobile artery connecting New York City with southern New England.  Thank you, Robert Moses.  Pelham, of course, was in the cross-hairs.

The history of the Hutchinson River Parkway, of course, is integrally intertwined with the history of the Town of Pelham during the 20th and 21st centuries.  Consequently, I have wriitten about the Hutchinson River Parkway on numerous occasions.  See, e.g.:

Wed., Mar. 07, 2018:  Pelhamites Learned of a Planned "Hutchinson River Improvement" in 1922.

Fri., Nov. 24, 2017:  Hutchinson River Parkway Detritus Was Used to Fill Much of the Pelham Reservoir in 1925.

Mon., May 08, 2017:  Pelham's Historic East Third Street Bridge Over the Hutchinson River Parkway.

Wed., Feb. 01, 2017:  Pelham Historic Marker Placed on Hutchinson River Parkway in 1927.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016:  A History of Tolls on the Hutchinson River Parkway and Their Impact on Pelham.

Tue., Aug. 26, 2014:  Westchester County Board of Supervisors Decided To Extend the Hutchinson River Parkway Through Pelham in 1923.

In 1940, newspapers in the region were filled with news accounts of plans to extend the "parkway" from the Eastern Boulevard, south of Pelham, to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge using a six-lane extension with no roads crossing the new super-highway.  The plans, of course, had been years in the making.

Only two years before, another extension of the Hutchinson River Parkway had been completed that extended the roadway from Boston Post Road in Pelham to the Eastern Boulevard (once known as the old Shore Road and the Pelham Bridge Road).  Additionally, in 1938 and 1939, New York authorities acquired the right-of-way required to extend the roadway all the way to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

During that two-year period at the end of the 1930s, buildings along the newly-acquired sections of right-of-way were demolished, test borings were made, and bridge designs were drawn so that work on the planned extension could begin as soon as financing was in place.

The planned extension to the bridge was planned to cost about $8,000,000 to construct.  The money was raised through a "refinancing in which the New York City Parkway Authority was merged with the Triborough Bridge Authority, retaining the name of the latter.  Commissioner of Parks Robert Moses headed the parkway authority and he and Commissioners George V. McLaughlin and Roderick Stephens head the Triborough Bridge Authority."

In mid-May, 1940 the Triborough Bridge Authority announced that "contracts had been let for the substructure and superstructure of the Eastchester Creek bridge, for the Givans Creek bridge . . . and for considerable grading."  It further announced that "Bids on other contracts will be taken in the next few months."

Work began soon thereafter.  Pelham, it seemed, would never be the same.


"This map shows the Hutchinson River Parkway Extension in the Bronx.
The numbers at different points are explained in the caption below the
adjoining pictures, which show sections of the same district."  Source:
of Hutchinson River RoadN.Y. Sun, May 18, 1940, p. 5, cols. 2-4.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.


"The Hutchinson River Parkway Extension (indicated by heavy white lines
in the above pictures) will relieve traffic congestion on Eastern Boulevard
(5), the Bronx, which at present is a link for motor vehicles moving between
Long Island and New England points, via the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and
the Hutchinson River Parkway, Westchester county, and the Merritt Parkway,
Connecticut.  The picture at the bottom (looking north) shows the location (1),
of intersection and grade separations on the parkway extension at East
177th street at Eastern Boulevard.  In the picture at the top (looking north) is
another section of the parkway extension.  The Pelham Bay Parkway (2),
Gun Hill Road and Baychester avenue bridges and grade separations (3)
and the Eastchester Creek Bridge (4) are indicated as well as Eastern
1940, p. 5, cols. 2-4.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.


*          *          *          *          *

"Another Parkway for the City
-----
Boon in Store for Motorists in the Extension of Hutchinson River Road.
-----

Contractors' steam shovels and graders soon will be making the dirt fly along Eastchester Creek in the Bronx, building an important new link in the ever-growing chain of parkways in the metropolitan area, as modern as the 1940 automobile and as safe from the hazards and delays of big-city traffic as engineering can make it.

Called the Hutchinson River Parkway Extension, the new super-highway will be a boon to motorists who, groaning at the perils and tribulations of the road, have spent many of their summer Sunday hours crawling along congested streets and boulevards for a short outing in upper Westchester county, Connecticut or southern New England.

The extension will strike south across Eastchester Creek from a point in the present Hutchinson River Parkway in Pelham Bay Park to the present approach to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.  No other roads will cross its six lanes of traffic, three northbound and three southbound and no red lights will bring automobiles screeching to a stop anywhere along its three and three-quarters miles of roadway.  Landscaped areas on either side and a mall between the north and south-bound lanes will make it a true parkway, as pleasing to the eye as it will be easy to the wheel.

Fast Route to Connecticut.

Long Island motorists, traveling along the existing parkways in Brooklyn and Queens and along the soon-to-be-completed Belt Parkway to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, will have a fast, direct route into Connecticut by way of the Merritt Parkway or into the north and south-bound Westchester county parkways by way of the Cross County Parkway or the Mosholu and Bronx Pelham parkways.

To be constructed on a right-of-way obtained in 1938 and 1939, the extension will be built by the Triborough Bridge Authority at a cost of around $8,000,000 and probably will be completed in eighteen months or so.  The new construction was made possible through the recent refinancing in which the New York City Parkway Authority was merged with the Triborough Bridge Authority, retaining the name of the latter.  Commissioner of Parks Robert Moses headed the parkway authority and he and Commissioners George V. McLaughlin and Roderick Stephens head the Triborough Bridge Authority.

The new extension will branch off from the two-year-old section of the Hutchinson River Parkway running south from the Boston Post Road to Eastern Boulevard, which also is known as the old Shore Road and the Pelham Bridge Road.  The branch will be roughly a mile south of the Hutchinson River Parkway-Boston Post Road crossing and about 2,300 feet west of the intersection of the parkway and Eastern Boulevard.  An elaborate cloverleaf at the branch will enable motorists using the new extension to swing eastward to Orchard Beach and City Island, thus diverting some of the heavy summer traffic to those three resorts from the Eastern Boulevard, now badly congested.

A Bottle-neck to Go.

A new bridge with a bascule type opening for boats will carry the extension southward across Eastchester Creek several thousand feet to the west of the present Eastern Boulevard bridge, which constitutes a bad bottle-neck for motorists.  Another bridge will arch over Givans Creek and grade crossing separations will eliminate hazards at Baychester avenue, Gun Hill Road, the Bronx Pelham Parkway, Westchester avenue, Tremont avenue, Grass avenue and Eastern Boulevard at the beginning of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge approach.  In addition there will be a grade crossing elimination where the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad swings across the extension right-of-way between the Pelham Parkway and Gun Hill Road.

Buildings along the right-of-way have been demolished, test borings made and bridge designs drawn, so the actual work is expected to get under way rapidly.  The Triborough Bridge Authority announced last week end that contracts had been let for the substructure and superstructure of the Eastchester Creek bridge, for the Givans Creek bridge . . . and for considerable grading.  Bids on other contracts will be taken in the next few months."

Source:  Another Parkway for the City -- Boon in Store for Motorists in the Extension of Hutchinson River Road, N.Y. Sun, May 18, 1940, p. 5, cols. 2-4.

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