CONNECTING TO A JEWEL ON LONG ISLAND SOUND: In 1927, the Westchester County Parks Commission acquired 280 acres along Long Island Sound in Rye. For years, the beaches of Rye developed a reputation as an area of ill repute and licentious behavior. The purchase allowed the county to condemn the bathhouses and amusement rides along the 7,900 feet of shoreline, replacing it with more family-friendly uses.

Under the direction of Gilmore C. Clark, the head landscape architect of the Westchester County Parks Commission, construction of Rye Playland began in September 1927. The original design provided for amusement rides, three skating rinks, an Olympic-size pool, picnic areas, restaurants, a boardwalk, and an Art Deco light tower. The park opened on May 26, 1928, and to this day it remains the only government-run amusement park in America.

Soon after work began on Rye Playland, construction began on a one-mile section of four-lane parkway to connect Boston Post Road (US 1) with the park. The Playland Parkway was built with landscaped, forested "barriers" that separated the road from nearby residential areas, and included a path for pedestrians and cyclists. It was built with parallel service roads to connect to local streets. Like other early parkways, the Playland Parkway was constructed without a median barrier (a configuration that remains today), and even had at-grade intersections. The parkway opened to traffic in 1929.

EXTENDING WEST OF THE POST ROAD: Beginning in the late 1920's, the county purchased land to create a greenbelt through New Rochelle and Mamaroneck, through which an eastern extension of the Cross County Parkway was to be constructed to connect to the Playland Parkway. (Indeed, the Playland Parkway was called the "Cross County Parkway" in its early years.) In anticipation of the extension, the county completed a stone arch in 1941 to carry US 1 over the parkway. The extension to the Cross County Parkway was delayed because of the Great Depression and World War II, but it remained on county plans until it was canceled in the early 1970's.

In 1954, work began on a half-mile-long extension of the Playland Parkway west to the New England Thruway (I-95). The extension, which continued the four-lane undivided design, utilized the 1941 stone-arch bridge, as well as a newer bridge built to carry Old Post Road over the parkway. It opened to traffic in 1958 to coincide with the completion of the New England Thruway.

AN ABORTED LINK TO A CROSS-SOUND BRIDGE: In 1965, Robert Moses, the chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, proposed a bridge across Long Island Sound connecting Rye with Oyster Bay. One early alternative for the Rye approach called for reconstructing the Playland Parkway as a six-lane divided freeway designed to handle commercial vehicles. This alternative was dropped in favor of an I-287 approach because it provided more direct connections to the New England Thruway and the Cross Westchester Expressway. The bridge was canceled in 1973.

THE PARKWAY TODAY: The Playland Parkway is still maintained by the Westchester County Department of Public Works (WCDPW). According to county officials, the parkway carries approximately 10,000 vehicles per day (AADT). Because of its substandard design features, the parkway has a maximum speed limit of 30 MPH.

During the late 1990's, the WCDPW reconstructed the Playland Parkway bridge over Blind Brook. The work encompassed the replacement of the superstructure, repair of the stone abutments and installation of new guiderails.

SOURCES: Reports of the Westchester County Parks Commission (1926-1935), Westchester County Parks Commission (1935); "Proposed Bayville-Rye Bridge," Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board (1966); "Playland: 70 Years of Excitement," Westchester County Parks Department (1998); Douglas Kerr; Alexander Svirsky; Douglas A. Willinger.

  • Playland Parkway shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Jeff Saltzman.




  • Playland Parkway exit and intersection list by Steve Anderson.

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