May 09 2015

Sam & Dave’s “Excellent Motor Parkway Adventure”II: Lake Success & Manhasset Hills

On April 4, 2015, Dave Russo and his 10-year old son Sam experienced a one-day 38-mile bike tour on the Long Island Motor Parkway. In the second post of this new series, Sammy and Dave explore Lake Success and Manhasset Hills as part of their "Excellent Motor Parkway Adventure."


Howard Kroplick

Sammy & Dave's "Excellent Motor Parkway Adventure"

By Dave Russo

April 5, 2015

My name is Dave Russo from Rockville Centre. Last summer my 9-year old son Sammy started playing travel baseball and had his practices were held in Cunningham Park in Queens. During practice I would go on runs through the area and came across the Motor Parkway. So this sparked a little flame in my head as I am a fan of Long Island history in general, specifically the old mansions and remnants of them.
I began to research the Motor Parkway (which I thought was only a Suffolk County thing that is still used today) and came across your site and others and was just amazed at the history of this road. So my son and I took little trips to various locations on the route and familiarized ourselves with the road and what it had to offer, often meeting people who live right on the road itself with zero knowledge of it or it's fantastic history. So we educate them and they are always very impressed.
So the two of us since then have really become Long Island Motor  Parkway buffs and have seen everything there is to see from Queens to Melville. Queens offers one glimpse as NYC has maintained the road. Bridges remain, entrance ramps are there, and posts are everywhere but it was built later and although preserved and nice it lacks that "throwback historical" feel of the original road. In Nassau as you know the power lines were run which in one sense ruined the road but in another preserved the authenticity of the original road and so much of it is still visible and the fact that you can go there and see it and imagine a time when tens of thousands of people were standing behind the posts/fence watching this annual race in otherwise farmland filled Long Island is very impressive. Equally impressive is how few people know of this at all and major locations that should be of historical interest like the bridges, lodges, the grandstand are completely neglected or not known.
 So yesterday, we did our long awaited "Vanderbilt Day" where we got up early and got a ride to Queens with our bikes and rode from the Queens beginning all the way to the Maxess Road Bridge in Melville in one day. It was about 38 miles total and we had a great time! (followed by dinner at Friendlys!) .I have become close with an older couple who live directly next to the Old Courthouse Road bridge who took us in for tea and cake and have lived there since farmland was on the other side. We visited Arthur Jesper in Garden City and he showed us his backyard. We have pictures of everything. We have many favorite locations.
 I've been visiting your page for a while now, checking for updates all the time. If there are any pics you are in need of or any part of the Parkway that you need further detailed exploration of we are your team! There is nothing that intimidates us and we love the challenge! We trespass the right way, by simply asking permission. We've never been told no. My little 10-year old is pretty cute and nobody can say no to him. The Sand Pits Bridge was high on our list until the recent pics arrived on your site which took the pressure off of us. Those were great to see.
 Dave & Sammy Russo

New Hyde Park/Lake Success

The former gate lodge to William K. Vanderbilt Jr.'s Deepdale estate. I understand it was originally on Lakeville Road but was then moved back a bit---it's now behind a church just south of LIJ.

Lake Success

What's left of the once tremendous Vanderbilt Deepdale mansion. Still very nice--don't get me wrong---but not quite what it used to be!

Entered onto the original Motor Parkway from Lakeville Road.

Heading east behind Great Neck South Middle School.

Some rough terrain crossing near the Northern State.

Manhassett Hills/North Hills

On top of the abutment for the New Hyde Park Road bridge looking over at exit ramp of Northern State Parkway.
2) Looking east from bridge
3) View of bridge
4, 5 & 6 - heading east approaching Old Courthouse Rd bridge

Any idea what this is??? This was on a wood post right on top of the New Hyde Park Road bridge - through the thickets right next to the wall.Sammy discovered it and I didn't think too much about it until ...

...about a mile or so further east we found another one! Also on a post and in the thickets. Is this just a coincidence?

Sammy with the view of the Motor Parkway looking east.

Heading east approaching the Old Courthouse Road Motor Parkway Bridge.

The Old Courthouse Road Motor Parkway Bridge,  one of only two still standing in Nassau County.

The bridge was built one year after the first section of the Motor Parkway was opened.

The view looking east from the top of the bridge.Road continues east from bridge.

Great section of original road here -- lots of posts and original road to see

PIeces of the original road.

On another bridge enbankment looking over Shelter Rock Road.


May 09 2015 Brian McHale 6:38 PM

Nice adventure. We used to ride our motor bikes on the section from behind Hericks high School west to NHP road late 60’s.

May 09 2015 Brian d McCarthy 7:52 PM

Hi Dave,Sam.Those are old cross arms/insulators that were removed from the utility poles along the row.

May 09 2015 Steve Lucas 8:00 PM

Boy, do those photos bring back memories! I grew up not far from there. My friends and I did the exact same thing when I was 8 years old back in 1955. We started at Searingtown Road, headed west, and eventually made it to the end (or beginning?) in Fresh Meadows. It did, however, take us several weeks to work up the courage to go that far in increasingly longer segments. Oh to be a kid again.

May 09 2015 Joe Venth 11:46 PM

What a great adventure you two took. I would love to do that one day being very interested in the history of the parkway. Howard runs an excellent site that I enjoy reading and thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

May 10 2015 frank femenias 11:17 PM

Nice investigation work guys! Wish I could persuade my teenage girls to do the same on the MTB’s but I think I may have ridden too many miles with them already. lol. It’s great cruising along the right of way while imagining cars 100 years ago used to speed through here on the early roadway. Maybe the roadway will return in the not-so-far future. Now that would be really neat. Looking forward to more of your updates on how the old roadway is keeping up after all this time! Thanks so much.

May 10 2015 Dave Russo 11:20 PM

First of all thank you all so much for the kind comments. It really was a fun day and one of those great father/son days I’m sure we will both remember.

My personal favorite stretch of Parkway starts at the Old Courthouse Road bridge (a great location—interesting to think that this bridge was built prior to the Bethpage Restoration bridge which was so much closer to the Parkway ground breaking) running east, over Shelter Rock Road (over a fence) and then continuing eastward to IU Willets Rd through the bamboo near Herricks HS. It’s a great section of original road that has a very private feel to it, fairly undisturbed with lots of posts, green and quiet. There are many great sections, and several I would recommend to “rookies” before this run, but I felt almost thrown back in time for this portion of the journey. Sammy’s favorite location will be disclosed upon its arrival on Howard’s future postings of our adventure! Stay tuned!

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