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Heavy traffic on the Garden State Parkway in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in the New York Metropolitan Area, United States. This is one of the world's busiest roadways.
Harden Parkway in Salinas, California

A parkway is a broad, landscaped highway thoroughfare.[1] The term is particularly used for a roadway in a park or connecting to a park from which trucks and other heavy vehicles are excluded.[1] Many parkways originally intended for scenic, recreational driving have evolved into major urban and commuter routes.

The term parkway is sometimes applied more generally to a variety of limited-access roads.


  • United States 1
    • Scenic roads 1.1
    • Early high speed roads 1.2
    • New Deal roads 1.3
    • Post-war parkways 1.4
  • Canada 2
  • United Kingdom 3
    • Peterborough 3.1
    • Bristol (and other) park-and-ride railway stations 3.2
    • Plymouth 3.3
  • Australia 4
    • Australian Capital Territory 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

United States

Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway, the world's first parkway, according to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Scenic roads

Over the years, many different types of roads have been labeled parkways.

The first parkways in the United States were developed during the late 19th century by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Beatrix Farrand as roads segregated for pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, and horse carriages, such as the Eastern Parkway, which is credited as the world's first parkway,[2] and Ocean Parkway in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The terminology "parkway" to define this type of road was coined by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted in their proposal to link city and suburban parks with "pleasure roads."

Newer roads such as Bidwell in Buffalo, New York and Park Presidio Boulevard in San Francisco, California[3] were designed for automobiles and are broad and divided by large landscaped central medians. Parkways can be the approach to large urban parks, such as the Mystic Valley Parkway to Boston Common in Boston. Some separated express lanes from local lanes, though this was not always the case.

During the early 20th century, the meaning of the word was expanded to include limited-access highways designed for recreational driving of automobiles, with landscaping. These parkways including the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway originally provided scenic routes without very slow or commercial vehicles, at grade intersections, or pedestrian traffic. Their success led to more development however, expanding a city's boundaries, eventually limiting their recreational driving use. The Arroyo Seco Parkway between Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, California is an example of lost pastoral aesthetics. It and others have become major commuting routes, while retaining the name parkway.

Early high speed roads

In New York City, construction on the Long Island Motor Parkway (Vanderbilt Parkway) began in 1906 and planning for the Bronx River Parkway in 1907. In the 1920s, the New York City Metropolitan Area's parkway system grew under the direction of Robert Moses, the president of the New York State Council of Parks and Long Island State Park Commission, who used parkways to create and access state parks, especially for city dwellers. As Commissioner of New York City Parks under Mayor LaGuardia, he extended the parkways to the heart of the city, creating and linking its parks to the greater metropolitan systems.

Most of the New York metropolitan parkways were designed by Gilmore Clark. The Kansas City, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Indianapolis; and other cities at the beginning of the 20th century.

New Deal roads

In the 1930s, as part of the New Deal the U.S. federal government constructed National Parkways designed for recreational driving and to commemorate historic trails and routes. These divided four-lane parkways have lower speed limits and are maintained by the National Park Service. An example is the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.

Others are: Clara Barton Parkway, running along the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., were also constructed during this era.

Post-war parkways

In Kentucky the term "parkway" designates a controlled-access highway in the Kentucky Parkway system, with nine built in the 1960s and 1970s. They were toll roads until the construction bonds were repaid, now being freeways since 2006.

The Arroyo Seco Parkway from Pasadena to Los Angeles, built in 1940, was the first segment of the vast Southern California freeway system. It became part of State Route 110 and was renamed the Pasadena Freeway. A 2010 restoration of the freeway brought the Arroyo Seco Parkway designation back.

Sign informing truckers it is illegal to use a Parkway in New York City.

In the Harriman State Park.

In New Jersey, the Garden State Parkway, connecting the urban Northeast U.S. with the rural Atlantic Ocean shoreline and Atlantic City, is restricted to buses and non-commercial traffic north of the Route 18 interchange but is one of the busiest toll roads in the country.[4]

In the Pittsburgh region, two of the major interstates are referred to informally as Parkways. The Parkway East — I-376, formally the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, connects Downtown Pittsburgh to Monroeville, Pennsylvania. The Parkway West — I-376 runs through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and links Downtown to Pittsburgh International Airport, Southbound I-79, Imperial, Pennsylvania, and Westbound US 22/30. The Parkway North — I-279 connects Downtown to Franklin Park, Pennsylvania and Northbound I-79.

In Minneapolis, the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway system has 50 miles (80 km) of streets designated as parkways. These are not freeways, having a slow 25-mile per hour speed limit, pedestrian crossings, and stop signs.[5][6]

In Cincinnati, parkways are major roads which trucks are prohibited from using. Some Cincinnati parkways, such as Columbia Parkway, are high-speed, limited access roads, while others, such as Central Parkway, are multi-lane urban roads without controlled access. Columbia Parkway carries US-50 traffic from downtown towards east-side suburbs of Mariemont, Anderson, and Milford, and is a limited access road from downtown to the Village of Mariemont.


"Parkway" is used in the names of many Canadian roads, including major routes through national parks, scenic drives, major urban thoroughfares, and even regular freeways that carry commercial traffic.

Parkways in the National Capital Region are administered by the National Capital Region (Canada). However, some of them are named "Drive" or "Driveway".

The term in Canada is also applied to multi-use paths and greenways used by walkers and cyclists.[7][8]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom have parkways in most large towns and cities. Some parkways are either motorways or 'A/B roads.' Some parkways, like in Chelmsford have flyovers leading to major roads.


The city and third generation new town of Peterborough with a population of 184,500 (2011 est.) has a well-built and developed system of designated Parkways which help to provide easy access to the city centre itself and its surrounding townships, the majority of which are dual-carriageway with many of their junctions numbered.

Bristol (and other) park-and-ride railway stations

English park-and-ride railway stations have the suffix Parkway, although the etymology is from the original U.S. meaning, with the Bristol Parkway railway station named after the adjacent M32 motorway originally known as the Parkway because of its rural route into the city.


In the City of Plymouth, the A38 is called 'The Parkway' and goes through the more rural parts of the Authority area, which coincide with its geographical (but not commercial) centre. It is limited access, and only has one or two junctions to enter the city.


Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory uses the term "Parkway" to refer to roadways of a standard approximately equivalent to what would be designated as an "Expressway", "Freeway", or "Motorway" in other areas. Parkways generally have multiple lanes in each direction of travel, no intersections (crossroads are accessed by interchanges), high speed limits, and are of dual carriageway design (or have high crash barriers on the median).[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b "parkway."Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. (14 Apr. 2007).
  2. ^
  3. ^ Alexander, Jeanne. "History of Park Presidio Boulevard". 
  5. ^ "Information Center: About the Grand Rounds". Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  6. ^ "Second Ward, Minneapolis: Traffic Calming Event". Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  7. ^ BC Parkway, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  8. ^ Welland Canals Parkway Trail, Canada
  9. ^ EPBC Referral - Majura Parkway to DEWHA (Revision 1), SMEC, Page 9, 19 August 2009

External links

  • NPS: Blue Ridge Parkway website
  • NPS: Natchez Trace Parkway website
  • Natchez Trace Compact
  • Long Island Motor Parkway
  • Bronx River Parkway
  • Merritt Parkway
  • The Straight Dope "Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?"
  • NPS Colonial Parkway webpage
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