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!
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.