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John Massengale

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America’s First Parkways & First Bicycle Lanes

America’s first parkway and first bike lane were given to us by Frederick Law Olmsted at Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Even though Brooklyn was an independent city at the time, the parkway was part of a green network envisioned by Olmsted that would have run from Central Park, across Fifty-Ninth Street and the Queensboro Bridge, and then to the Eastern and Ocean Parkways in Brooklyn.

From NYC Parks: The world’s first parkway was conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1866. The term parkway was coined by these designers as a landscaped road built expressly for ‘pleasure-riding and driving’ or scenic access to Prospect Park (also designed by Olmsted and Vaux). To these ends, commerce was restricted. The parkway was constructed from Grand Army Plaza to Ralph Avenue (the boundary of the City of Brooklyn) between 1870 and 1874. Olmsted and Vaux intended Eastern Parkway to be the Brooklyn nucleus of an interconnected park and parkway system for the New York area. The plan was never completed but their idea of bringing the countryside into the city influenced the construction of major parks and parkways in cities throughout the United States.


Scanner: Kodak HR 500 Universal Operators: Eric Brussard, Steve Morse, Bill Smith

Eastern Parkway in front of the Brooklyn Museum, photographed in 1937.