What is this?

thumbnailOur exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it? To find out more,

Merritt Parkway bridge and road construction, 1930s.

Merritt Parkway bridge and road construction, 1930s.

As high-speed traffic and congestion increased in the early 1900s, people began to look for a way to get cars off main thoroughfares like the Boston Post Road. The Boston Post Road was a mail delivery route from New York City to Boston that ran through Connecticut, and became one of the first highways.

Merritt Parkway construction, 1937, The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2010.168.12

Merritt Parkway construction, 1937, The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2010.168.12

In 1931, the Merritt Highway Commission was formed to oversee the construction of a scenic parkway, which would connect towns in Fairfield County to planned parkways in neighboring Westchester County, New York. The parkway was intended to enhance the beauty of the countryside, with great attention paid to the landscaping and the 69 bridges spanning the road.

Merritt Parkway bridge and road construction, 1930s.

Merritt Parkway bridge and road construction, 1930s.

The first section opened in 1938. The first tolls were collected in 1939. Vehicles with more than four wheels, over eight feet high, or towing a trailer are not allowed on the parkway.

Merrit Parkway bridge, 1937, The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2010.168.12

Merrit Parkway bridge, 1937, The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2010.168.12

The Art Deco-styled bridges throughout the parkway were designed by architect George L. Dunkelberger and some were constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration.

Cars on the Merritt Parkway, 1930s.

Cars on the Merritt Parkway, 1930s.

Mike Messina is the Interpretive Projects Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society.

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