THE BOSTON POST ROAD (or THE KING'S HIGHWAY)

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Anne Young, Curator for the Historical Society, wrote to me this week about actor Tony Curtis, who passed away this week.  I thought you'd be interested in this!

 

"By showbiz standards, the wedding seemed refreshingly real. The best man (comedian Jerry Lewis) arrived an hour late; a small-town judge officiated; the bride and groom even used their real names on the license when Bernard Schwartz, 26, and Jeanette Morrison Reames, 23 -- a.k.a. Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh -- took their vows (she for the third time, he for the first) at a spur-of-the-moment ceremony on June 4, 1951, in Greenwich, Conn. The marriage was front-page news with Janet Leigh pronouncing Greenwich as "such a romantic spot". The couple's nuptials took place at the Pickwick Arms Hotel, fondly remembered by many of the town's citizens. Originally located at the top of Greenwich Avenue (where today's Pickwick Plaza now stands), the hotel opened in 1920. Fifty years later, the hotel closed its doors and was demolished in 1972."

Thank you, Anne!

                                             

                                             DOT - Federal Highway Dept.                  

Before Interstate 95 was built, to travel to Providence or Boston, one would take U.S. Route 1 - better known as The Boston Post Road. If you look at a map of the United States before the mid-1950s, you could see Route 1 stretching from Maine to Florida. It was President Eisenhower who created the Interstate Highway System for military forces so they could get quickly from part of the country to another in case of a national emergency. This is a far cry from the first dirt roads that connected New England states. For the first 100 years after the settlement of Greenwich, most travel was by foot or horse. And people didn't travel great distances, either. Even state representatives rode horses or sailed to Hartford for the General Assembly meetings. At that time in history, Connecticut was more concerned with what was going on to the east (New Haven, Hartford, Boston) than with what was going on in New York City. This, of course, would change as the city became more of a cultural and business center.

In 1672, the General Assembly established a "pony express" of sorts to bring letters and other official documents to the Capitol. Officials even created a schedule of prices that people would pay to have this "mail" delivered. Unfortunately, the riders would run up large bills at the taverns along the way, and delivery was delayed!

The first "postal service" between New York and Boston was established in January 1673. A rider would leave NYC on the first of the month and arrive in Boston in the middle of the month. The very first riders were instructed to ask Governor Winthrop in Hartford about the best direction for travel and the best places to leave letters. They were also expected to mark trees for travellers and establish houses as stopping places for food and lodging. The messenger was instructed to let people accompany him, and he was expected to help them in anyway he could.

                                                             

On this end of the route, the rider followed the "Old Indian Trail" from "the great stone in the Byram River" to the Mianus River (Dumpling Pond) to Stamford (over Palmer Hill Rd.) and beyond. Over time, the name of this "road" was called The Westchester Path, Country Road, King's Highway, the Post Road and Turnpike Road. Today we know it as East and West Putnam Avenue, Route 1 and the Post Road.

In 1772, a stageline was established between New York and Boston. This meant there was another way to send correspondence across the land. Even so, the Boston Post Road remained, and still remains, an important transportation route today.

3 Comments

Can you tell us, how was the path taken by the Merritt Parkway determined? I-95?

Thanks!

Kathy -

Thanks for your question! As you will be able to see from this week's blog, there was a lot of "wheeling and dealing" going on with the Merritt Parkway. People jacked up the price of their land as much as 3 times! The project was actually wracked with scandal. I do believe the landscape architect tried to maintain the rustic landscape while dealing with people who didn't want to carve up their property. In Greenwich you've proabably noted their is a big curve arond and between Rockwood and Putnam Lakes. This was probably to protect the drinking water. Fortunately, there wasn't a lot of buildings to contend with as opposed to I-95.

I couldn't find anything definitive about the taking of land for I-95. I did reasd in the local paper that the Town held up the taking of park land (e.g. Bruce Park) to make sure they got the fair market value. I-95 pretty much paralleled The Boston Post Road and railroad.
I can speculate that they tried to keep the road as far south as possible to avoid taking property. I know that Belle haven residents were opposed to an on/off ramp in their neighborhood.

Last year I saw a PBS special on the Cross Bronx highway. Many residents were upset since the project was going to take a number of apartment buildings. Despite their pleas, Robert Moses pushed ahead, saying the highway would benefit the greater number of people. The concerns of a few didn't seem to matter!

I think the fact that Greenwich is a wealthy community caused officials to deal carefully with landowners here. Further east, maybe not so carefully! I'm sure officials exercised their emminent domain power! Carl

Carl:

Thanks, I just found your reply. The Merritt runs just behind my house - and between us, there is what I refer to as the "deer highway" - a protected zone where at any given time, you are sure to see a few of those unloved animals. I had wondered if perhaps it wasn't at one time an Indian trail. But maybe not, if the route of the Merritt was decided by politics and property lines rather than pre-existing pathways.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on September 28, 2010 2:06 PM.

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