Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn

Ocean Parkway was built as one of five grand boulevards in NYC (along with Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse, Eastern Parkway, and Pelham ParkwayOcean Parkway and Eastern Parkway were built as extensions of Prospect Park by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in the 1870s.  The grand boulevards were planned as part of an extensive system of parkways that would extend the rural beauty of Prospect Park into Brooklyn’s residential neighborhoods, and would eventually connect to Manhattan’s Central Park.

Ocean Parkway is 5½ miles long, with a central drive, landscaped malls, a bridle path (now paved), a pedestrian promenade, and narrow access roads.  Below are pictures of Ocean Parkway in 1894 and today.  The configuration of the road hasn’t changed significantly, although the surrounding landscape has changed.

Between 1953 and 1962, the Prospect Expressway was built from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Ocean Parkway, paving over the northernmost section of Ocean Parkway.  Connections were also built to the Gowanus Expressway and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

In 1963, Robert Moses proposed that the Prospect Expressway should be continued over the length of Ocean Parkway, to connect with the Belt Parkway and the proposed Cross-Brooklyn Expressway.
In 1966, an alternate route for the Prospect Expressway was proposed along Flatbush Avenue.
Dispruptions caused by highway construction in other parts of NYC meant that neither route was approved.  In 1975, Ocean Parkway was designated a scenic landmark.

Below is a map showing the northern end of Ocean Parkway and the Prospect Expressway.  If Robert Moses had his way, the Prospect Expressway would continue the length of Ocean Parkway all the way to the Belt Parkway.

Below are two aerial views of Ocean Parkway.  The top photo shows the southern end of Ocean Parkway near Coney Island.  The bottom photo is an overview of its entire length, looking north toward Prospect Park.

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