The Last WOODY

by Kevin Walsh

I have just one photo today. It’s the last dodo, passenger pigeon, aepyornis, mammoth, tyrannosaur, brachiothere, trilobite, and someday, the last human. It’s the last of its type. Once, thousands of these wooden posts lined the parkways of New York and Long Island, built when they were literally parkways, running through wooded enclaves with tiny houses and green lawns. I call them the Woodies. They lit the great parkways constructed by Robert Moses beginning in the 1930s: the Belt (or Shore) Parkway; the Cross Island; the Laurelton; the Bronx River; and many others. Occasionally they found their way to regular city streets (I have seen pictures of them on 37th Street along GreenWood Cemetery and on Euclid Avenue in East New York) but mainly they were there to impart a rustic look.

Bucolicism left NYC in the 1950s and urbanism accelerated, and gradually, the Woodies disappeared. Their last bastion was the Belt and Shore Parkways in Brooklyn and Queens, where they hung on into the 1980s, though they were gradually supplanted by Deskeys. Finally the mixed bag of Woodies and Deskeys were sent packing and the Belt was lined with shiny, cylindriacl poles (which you see in the background here).

The last Woody can be found on a service road connecting the Laurelton Parkway with the westbound Belt. Catch it while you can. While the odd decommissioned Woody can still be seen in the odd parking lot or pedestrian bridge, this is the last working example, and when it goes…they’re all gone.