The Long Island Expressway, called "the longest parking lot in the world" by generations of commuters, is missing something in Plainview.
Specifically, an exit: Exit 47.
And all these years you've been wondering: Why?
Robert Moses had a plan. (He had many.) The iconic visionary of urban planning wanted to extend the Bethpage State Parkway north through Old Bethpage and Plainview to connect it with a grand state park he envisioned on Long Island Sound called "Caumsett."
His parkways were already a big hit. In their heyday, the parkway system criss-crossed Long Island and provided easy access to places like Jones Beach and the Bethpage State Park, with its five multi-colored golf courses. Both state parks bear Moses' imprint.
But it was said of Moses that he loved cars more than people, and Moses wanted more. (He always did.) He planned to extend the little Bethpage Parkway (It's just 4 kilometers or 2.5 miles long) 11 miles north through Bethpage, Plainview, Woodbury, Cold Spring Harbor and Lloyd Harbor. Above the Northern State, the road would be renamed the Caumsett State Parkway, and where it crossed the LIE there would be an exit:
You guessed it: No. 47.
As you might suspect, some of the folks on the North Shore of Long Island objected to having a parkway and state park carved out of their Gold Coast neighborhoods. It took decades, but the plan finally disappeared along with Robert Moses and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The latter is another story.
While Moses got an awful lot done, his unbuilt legacy includes the still undeveloped right-of-way for the Caumsett Parkway, running in wooded swaths roughly along the Nassau-Suffolk border.
And because it's state land, you can enjoy this unspoiled ribbon of woodlands. Since 2002, the state calls it Trail View State Park, a 400-acre linear park stretching 7.4 miles along the old right-of-way. The easiest access point is on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, where there's parking available.
With the weather beginning t0 improve, it's a great place to for hiking, bicycling and birding. It's habitat, ranging from sea level to 300 feet, is known to support a wide range of birds and woodland creatures. A stroll in the park offers a glimpse at what the old Long Island must have looked like.
And, we've still got "The 135" if we need to get to the North Shore and annoy the folks on the Gold Coast.
- Category: History, hiking, communing with nature, birding, channeling your inner Thoreau.
- Price: Free but for the cost of gas.
- Season: Year-round, dawn to dusk.
- Location: Easy access at Jericho Turnpike and Woodbury Road. The park stretches north and south for 7 miles. It changes terrain frequently, and it's wet and cold this time of year.
- Note: This is state land, meaning, its ours. Keep this wooded slice of the old Long Island clean and protected. OK?
Stay tuned for No. 96 next week; No. 100 kicked off the series and got lots of reaction: .