Fairfield in Fairfield County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
The Merritt Parkway
The Gateway To New England
Constructed to relieve traffic from the congested Boston Post Road, the Merritt Parkway quickly became one of America's premiere roads celebrated for its engineering and beauty. The first segment of the Parkway opened in 1938 as Connecticut's first divided-lane, limited- access highway-free of trucks and advertising.
The Merritt was designed solely by the Connecticut Highway Department. Construction of the Parkway began in 1934 with the challenge of building an east- west road that traversed the north-south natural ridges and river valleys. To avoid a drive that felt like a roller coaster, extensive blasting of ridge tops and filling of valleys was required. Bridge construction and paving operations continued until the Parkway was completed in 1940, with 2,000 workers and 14 private companies involved in the construction activities.
There were 72 original bridges designed by George Dunkelberger, an architect and staff member of the Connecticut Highway Department. Each bridge is unique, with distinctive architectural styles from Art Deco to Art Moderne. The majority of bridges were
Connecticut Highway Department landscape architect Weld Thayer Chase carefully designed a naturalistic landscape to re-establish the beauty of the existing countryside. Chase studied the landscape prior to construction noting the location of native plants, often storing existing plants to be re-planted and marking trees to remain during construction. Additionally, 70,000 trees and shrubs were purchased and thousands more were donated by garden clubs and civic organizations. Chase said, "My aim was to heal the landscape, so Dame Nature could pull it all together in time." The Merritt Parkway's significance has been recognized by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, its designation as a State Scenic Road and a National Scenic Byway.
Since 2002, the Merritt Parkway Conservancy has been working in partnership with other stakeholders to revitalize and celebrate the Merritt Parkway. To learn more about the Conservancy and this remarkable road, please visit www.merrittparkway.org.
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— Native plantings blended the road into the countryside affording travelers views of neighboring
— Bridges were occasionally built prior to grading and paving activities. The Sport Hill Road Bridge, located next to the service area, was constructed before the road was constructed.
Erected by Merritt Parkway Conservancy.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Roads & Vehicles.
Location. 41° 13.133′ N, 73° 15.334′ W. Marker is in Fairfield, Connecticut, in Fairfield County. Marker is on Merritt Parkway (Connecticut Route 15) south of Easton Turnpike (Connecticut Route 59), on the right when traveling north. Located in the fuel stop & rest area on the northbound side. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fairfield CT 06824, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Tashua Hills (approx. 2.9 miles away); Easton World War II & Korean War Monument (approx. 3.2 miles away); Easton (approx. 3.2 miles away); Dr. Hosea Hurlburt House (approx. 3.2 miles away); Jonathan Trumbull (approx. 3.3 miles away); Salute to Women – Veterans Day 1999 (approx. 3.3 miles away); Trumbull Veterans Memorial (approx. 3.3 miles away); Trumbull World War I Memorial (approx. 3.3 miles away).
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. A preserved Merritt Parkway Toll Booth Plaza
Also see . . .
1. Merritt Parkway Conservancy - Parkway History. (Submitted on December 4, 2020, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. Merritt Parkway (Wikipedia). (Submitted on December 4, 2020, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 4, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 3, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 26 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 3, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.