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Vanderbilt Cup Races

From Central Park Historical Society Encyclopedia

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In 1904 the automobile road races, sponsored by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. were held on the streets of Nassau County. In 1907, the races were suspended due to two fatal accidents to spectators. Undeterred, Vanderbilt got people to invest in a 45 mile roadway from Alley Pond in Queens to Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County. This roadway was the first road specifically designed for the automobile and the first limited access thoroughfare. The road boasted two lanes of concrete and banked curves very suitable for racing. Racing on the Motor Parkway was reserved for one day a year and the remaining days the road reverted to a toll road which had no speed limit. Unfortunately, the Vanderbilt Cup Races claimed the lives of four spectators resulting in banning the auto races except on special tracks in 1910. The Motor Parkway continued as a toll road until 1938. At this time it was forced to close due to tax burden and the competition of the Northern State Parkway which is a toll free road. (Information from THE NEW YORK TIMES, SUNDAY OCTOBER 19, 2003)

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