Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hurricane of 1938

The Hurricane of 1938 began its rise on Saturday, September 17. This day brought about a range of .20” to .60” of rain that were triggered by moisture in the warm air. Sunday, September 18 continued with downpours of rain due to a cold front lighting up the warm air. Mineola’s rainfall for that day alone measured 3.10”. Monday, September 19 was no different with rain continuing and flooding basements, streets, sewers and more. The rain continued into Tuesday, September 20 where the day ended with floods and a pressure system ready to force the hurricane right onto Long Island.

Hurricane Day arrives on Wednesday, September 20 and no alerts are given to Long Island, even though computations map that it will be right on the dangerous Eastern side of the hurricane. On Long Island the day goes on with the temperatures higher than usual and not dropping below the upper 60s and no rainfall. By 1PM, the weather had taken a turn for the worst with the hurricanes outer effects had officially reached long island bringing about strong winds and heavy rain. As the hurricane progressed, the conditions worsened for Long Island and its residents. Conditions like landfall, tidal waves, flooding, and extreme winds destroyed parts of Long Island. Gusts were said to have exceeded 130 mph and actually wiped out the weather towers tracking the storms activity. Houses were swept away by tidal waves, especially on eastern Long Island. Death tolls on Long Island have risen over 50, with 28 deaths in Westhampton alone.


Brickner, Roger K. The Long Island Express: Tracking the Hurricane of 1938. Hogdins Printing Co., Inc., 1988, New York.

“Damage Caused by Storm.” The Great Hurricane of 1938, The Long Island Express,

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Long Island Motor Parkway

The Long Island Motor Parkway, (also known as the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway) is the world’s first limited-access highway. It was the brainchild of William Kissam Vanderbilt Jr. He was a car enthusiast at a time when few people owned cars. He ran Vanderbilt Cup Races beginning in 1904 were the idea for creating a smooth, safe road.

He wanted to create a seventy-mile road through central Long Island from near the Queens/Nassau border all the way to Riverhead. One of the bigger challenges was obtaining the right of way to build the parkway.

The parkway was envisioned mainly as a highway for the wealthy. The prospectus for the parkway stated, “The numerous golf, fishing, yachting, and shooting clubs will be speedily reached and can be more fully made use of by their members.”

Besides being the country’s first concrete highway, one of the other unique features was its grade separation from other roads. On June 7, 1908, the first shovelful of dirt was turned over. Work progressed at a moderate ace. In 1908, a race-car driver tested the completed portions and was able to reach sixty miles per hours on the turns and one hundred miles per hour over a straight stretch.
By the end of 1908, nine miles were complete, from Westbury to Bethpage.  The parkway extended from Westbury to Mineola and Bethpage to Dix Hills in 1909 and from Bethpage to Lake Ronkonkoma in 1910. The highway itself was a toll road, with the price originally being $2.00.

Long Island’s population increased in the years following and the Northern State Parkway was constructed in the 1930’s. It made the Long Island Motor Parkway quickly obsolete and it was sold to New York State for $80,000 in 1938.  Most of the highway was demolished over the years, but there are a number of remnants left. A major section has been preserved as a walking trail and bike path within Alley Park and Cunningham Park in Queens. The best preserved segment in Nassau County lies in Alberston/Williston Park, on either side of Willis Avenue. On the east side is an access road for parking lots and the only drivable section of the original Parkway left.

Sone of the original toll lodges still exist. Most have been converted into private homes and altered. The Garden City lodge was moved and is now the headquarters for the Garden City Chamber of Commerce.


Panchyk, Richard. Hidden History of Long Island. The History Press, 2016.