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Parkways in New York facts for kids

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Sign informing truckers it is illegal to use a parkway in New York City.

The majority of parkways in the US state of New York are part of a statewide parkway system owned by several public and private agencies but mostly maintained by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). A handful of other roads in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island are also known as parkways but are not part of the state system. The state parkway system introduced the concept of limited-access roads. These highways were not divided and allowed no driveway cuts, but did have intersections for some of the streets they crossed. A small section of the privately financed Long Island Motor Parkway was the first limited-access road to begin operation as a toll road and the first highway to use bridges and overpasses to eliminate intersections.

The individual parkways vary widely in composition. Some, such as the Sprain Brook Parkway, are functionally equivalent to a freeway; others, like Seven Lakes Drive, are a two-lane undivided surface road. The majority of parkways are located in downstate New York, where the state parkway system originated in the early 20th century.

State parkways

The state's parkway system originally began as a series of then-high-speed (25 miles per hour or 40 kilometres per hour) four-lane roads that were created to provide a scenic way into, out of, and around New York City. The first section of this system opened in 1908. Most of the early roads have been replaced and redesigned to address higher speed requirements and to increase capacity. In later sections north of New York City, the roadways were typically divided by a wide landscaped median and provided service areas along the way that offered fuel and restrooms. Many of these parkways were built by regional agencies such as the Long Island State Park Commission (LISPC), New York City Parks Department, Taconic State Park Commission (TSPC), Westchester County Parks Commission (WCPC), and Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC). Most are now maintained, if not owned, by NYSDOT outside New York City and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) within New York City.

Today, the state parkways are for the most part equivalent to expressways and freeways built in other parts of the country, except for a few oddities. First, because many of these roads were either designed before civil engineers had experience building roads for automobile use or widened in response to increasing traffic, many New York parkways lack shoulders. Second, because designers focused more on making routes scenic rather than efficient, the parkways are meandering, often built to follow a river, and so contain many turns. Finally, because most use low, decorative stone-arch overpasses that would trap trucks, commercial vehicles, trucks and tractor trailers are banned from parkways. In Manhattan, this has led to the oddity of forcing all trucking onto local streets as the island has only one short interstate passing through the Inwood neighborhood, which is at the very top of Manhattan.

List of parkways

Parkway Opened Region From To Owner Maintained by
Bay Parkway Long Island Jones Beach State Park Jones Beach State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Bear Mountain State Parkway 1932 Hudson Valley Peekskill Cortlandt NYSDOT NYSDOT
Belt Parkway 1941 New York City Brooklyn Queens NYSDOT/NYCDOT NYSDOT/NYCDOT
Bethpage State Parkway 1936 Long Island Massapequa Bethpage State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Bronx River Parkway 1908 Hudson Valley The Bronx New Castle NYCDOT/Westchester County NYCDOT/Westchester County
Cross County Parkway 1947 Hudson Valley Yonkers Eastchester NYSDOT NYSDOT
Cross Island Parkway 1940 New York City Queens Queens NYCDOT NYCDOT
Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive 1955 New York City Lower Manhattan Upper Manhattan NYSDOT/NYCDOT NYSDOT/NYCDOT
Grand Central Parkway 1936 New York City Queens New York City line NYSDOT NYSDOT
Harlem River Drive 1964 New York City Upper Manhattan Upper Manhattan NYSDOT NYSDOT
Heckscher State Parkway 1959 Long Island West Islip Heckscher State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Henry Hudson Parkway 1937 New York City Manhattan New York City line NYSDOT/NYCDOT/PANYNJ NYSDOT/NYCDOT/PANYNJ
Hutchinson River Parkway 1928 Hudson Valley The Bronx Connecticut state line NYSDOT/NYCDOT NYSDOT/NYCDOT
Jackie Robinson Parkway 1935 New York City Brooklyn Queens NYCDOT NYSDOT
Korean War Veterans Parkway 1972 New York City Staten Island Staten Island NYSDOT NYSDOT
Lake Ontario State Parkway Western New York Carlton Rochester NYSDOT/NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Lake Welch Parkway 1971 Hudson Valley Harriman State Park Harriman State Park PIPC NYSDOT
Long Mountain Parkway Hudson Valley Harriman State Park Bear Mountain State Park NYSDOT NYSDOT
Loop Parkway 1934 Long Island Lido Beach Jones Beach State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Meadowbrook State Parkway 1934 Long Island Jones Beach State Park Westbury NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Mosholu Parkway 1937 New York City Bronx Park Van Cortlandt Park NYSDOT/NYCDOT NYSDOT/NYCDOT
Niagara Scenic Parkway Western New York Niagara Falls Porter NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Northern State Parkway 1931 Long Island New York City line Hauppauge NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Ocean Parkway Long Island Jones Beach State Park Captree State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Palisades Interstate Parkway 1958 Hudson Valley Fort Lee, NJ Bear Mountain State Park PIPC NYSDOT
Pelham Parkway New York City The Bronx Pelham Bay Park NYCDOT NYCDOT
Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway 1969 Adirondacks Lake George Prospect Mountain NYSDEC NYSDEC
Robert Moses Causeway Long Island Robert Moses State Park West Islip NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Sagtikos State Parkway 1952 Long Island West Islip Commack NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Saw Mill River Parkway 1954 Hudson Valley New York City line Bedford NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Seven Lakes Drive Hudson Valley Sloatsburg Bear Mountain State Park PIPC NYSDOT
Southern State Parkway 1949 Long Island Valley Stream West Islip NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Sprain Brook Parkway 1961 Hudson Valley Yonkers Hawthorne NYSDOT NYSDOT
Sunken Meadow State Parkway 1957 Long Island Commack Sunken Meadow State Park NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Taconic State Parkway 1925 Hudson Valley North Castle East Chatham NYSDOT NYSDOT
Wantagh State Parkway 1929 Long Island Jones Beach State Park Westbury NYS OPRHP NYSDOT
Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway 1935 Adirondacks Wilmington Whiteface Mountain NYSDEC NYSDEC

Other parkways

Some regions of New York have parkways that are not owned or maintained by a state agency. Westchester County, for example, contains some highways that were originally part of the TSPC and WCPC, while Suffolk County has preserved a section of the former Long Island Motor Parkway (LIMP) for current driving and built their own roads on land originally reserved for the LISPC. The surviving remnant of the LIMP in western Suffolk County, named the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, became a surface street that is no longer a controlled-access road nor off-limits to non-commercial vehicles.

List of parkways

Parkway Opened Region From To Owner Maintained by
Arden Valley Road 1922 Hudson Valley Harriman State Park Harriman State Park PIPC PIPC
Central Westchester Parkway Hudson Valley White Plains White Plains Westchester County Westchester County
Farragut Parkway Hudson Valley Hastings-on-Hudson Hastings-on-Hudson Westchester County Westchester County
Fire Island Beach Road Long Island Fire Island Fire Island Suffolk County Suffolk County
Playland Parkway 1929 Hudson Valley Harrison Playland Westchester County Westchester County
Tiorati Brook Road Hudson Valley Harriman State Park Bear Mountain State Park PIPC PIPC
Vanderbilt Motor Parkway Long Island Melville Lake Ronkonkoma Suffolk County Suffolk County
William Floyd Parkway Long Island Fire Island Rocky Point Suffolk County Suffolk County
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