Transportation: The Arteries of a City
Parkways: Roads of Enchantment (For some)
The 20th century was a time of modernization of roadways and modes of transportation that swept the suburban Yonkers and its surrounding areas (Westchester) with dreams of efficiently beautifying the experience of the driver – and potential resident. These dreams of course are not isolated events, the creation of transportation systems and more specifically Parkways are intimately tied to the very existence and continuation of the suburban identity and life style. With the effort to replace horse carriages with motored automobiles and systems ran by electricity such as the Yonkers trolleys, increased access to these places by the population is expected; however, the concept of “pleasure driving” and the demographics associated with it would make very clear the developers concept of “beauty”, not only in nature but in population. To understand the transportation dynamics of Yonkers and its very important Saw Mill Parkway which divides it in half from left to right, we have to understand the example from which it was created, the Bronx River Parkway.
Right at the border of Mount Vernon and Yonkers sits the Bronx River Parkway, a parkway built for beauty and efficiency but one destined to have a filtered accessibility. In the 1920s the completion of the Bronx River restoration and the construction of the scenic Bronx River Parkway did not only represent a progressive developmental achievement, but an attempt to engineer not only the physical infrastructures but the “kind” of people that would enjoy it:
Apart from the fact that poor and working class individuals did not have the economic capacity to purchase a car and enjoy the road, the ambitions to boost property values by having the “right demographics” with the construction of the scenic roads speaks of the assumptions made by the very developers of the kinds of people that reside in these neighborhoods and their social and personal stance on race, ethnicity, social class and desegregation. The monotony desired in Suburbs such as Yonkers, not only by developers, but political leaders as well as current and potential owners of a home within its borders is clearly seen and exemplified in the field of transportation by the scenic roads and river parkways. If natured was to be reunited with urbanization through the development of scenic roads, it was/is a beauty engraved in isolation from the very things that made the original Hudson River Railroad system undesirable – corruption from the city and the wrong “kind” of people.
In 1927 “as many as 35,000 cars moved bumper to bumper along the road on sunny weekends and holidays. […] New Yorkers were quick to appreciate what has been accomplished; a constant stream of motorcars flowed out of the city on the parkway […].” It could be considered a success, due to the positive response by city dwellers appreciative of its natural enchantment; however, the Bronx River Parkway as the Saw Mill Parkway was not built for high traffic, but for “pleasure driving” and high traffic of motor vehicles, picnics and the very “takeover” by city dwellers exposed the Parkways to the very thing they wanted to escape – the city and its “corruption”. County officials took measures and all commercial vehicles were banned, parking or stopping along the sides of the road discouraged by “erecting guardrails along the entire length to keep cars on the pavement”. These measures were instituted in all consequent parkways, including Yonkers own, the Saw Mill Parkway.
Many real estate agents and public officials welcomed such high flow of city dwellers, but dwellers that could afford a home in the surrounding suburbs. Property soared in value, as an acreage costing half a million dollars in the late 1800s was now costing eight million in the 1920s. Even when real states were in support of the “city invasion”, their sentiments where much about business as it was about transforming the suburb into a “high class suburban residence section” protected [by the Bronx River Parkway] from the dangers of unpleasant surroundings”. The science of constructing scenic roads was much about inclusion as it was about segregation.
 Roger, Panetta. Westchester: The American Suburb. Yonkers: The Hudson River Museum, 2006.
 Roger, Panetta.
 Roger, Panetta.
 Roger, Panetta.