The Long Island Motor Parkway Collection

Cover Image:
Parkway Sweepstakes 1908
Parkway Sweepstakes 1908

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The Long Island Motor Parkway was one of the first roadways built exclusively for motor vehicles in the United States. The Parkway was the private enterprise of William K. Vanderbilt II, an early automobile enthusiast and founder of the Vanderbilt Cup. Noting the issues caused by racing on residential roads, including crowd control and dust, Vanderbilt established a corporation that would create a separate roadway more suitable for racing. The first section of the Parkway was built in 1908 and by 1911 extended over 45 miles from Flushing, Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County. The road operated as a private toll road and was also used as part of the racing course for the Vanderbilt Cup between 1908 and 1911. The Long Island Motor Parkway remained in operation until 1938, when the development of other roadways rendered the parkway obsolete.  
The Long Island Motor Parkway not only represents the advancement of the automobile in American society, but also the suburban development of Long Island that would eventually lead to communities such as Levittown and other planned developments.  

Scope of Collection

The collection contains the administrative correspondences and records of the Long Island Motor Parkway dating from 1906 to 1942. The records are from the files of Alfred J. Kienzle, the general manager and assistant treasurer of the parkway, who oversaw the daily operations of the parkway and its properties. The collection covers the business expenses and operations of the parkway, land acquisition and development, and communication between the parkway, local and federal government, and the surrounding community.