Grand Central Parkway, New York

Grand Central Parkway, New York


Reference Route 907M
Get started New York
End New York
Length 15 mi
Length 24 km
  • 3 31st Avenue4 → Brooklyn / Bronx
  • 5 Astoria Blvd
  • 6 94th Street
  • 7 LaGuardia Airport
  • 8 111th Street
  • 9 → Bronx
  • 9 Northern Boulevard
  • 9 Flushing Meadows
  • 10 → Manhattan / Long Island
  • 11 69th Road
  • 12 Queens Boulevard
  • 13 Jackie Robinson Parkway → Brooklyn
  • 14 → JFK Airport
  • 15 Union Turnpike
  • 16 Queens Boulevard
  • 16 Parsons Blvd
  • 17 168th Street
  • 18 Utopia Parkway
  • 19 188th Street
  • 20 Francis Lewis Blvd
  • 21 → Bronx
  • 22 Union Turnpike
  • 23 Belt Parkway → Bronx / Brooklyn
  • 24 Little Neck Parkway
  • Northern State Parkway → Long Island suburbs

According to CITYPOPULATIONREVIEW.COM, the Grand Central Parkway (GCP) is a parkway in the U.S. state of New York. The highway is located entirely within the boundaries of the Queens borough of New York. The highway provides an east-west connection, primarily for traffic from Long Island to the Bronx and northern Manhattan. The Grand Central Parkway is 15 miles long.

Travel directions

The Grand Central Parkway at Flushing in Queens.

The interstate begins at Interstate 278 in the Astoria neighborhood. There are 2×3 lanes available here, with Astoria Boulevard running parallel on both sides. A little further on are 2×4 lanes and you will pass La Guardia Airport, one of the many airports around New York. At Shea Stadium, one crosses the Whitestone Expressway and the GCP branches off to the south. It is one of the few highways in New York with 4 lanes in each direction. A few miles further on, one crosses Interstate 495 or Long Island Expressway.

In the Kew Garden neighborhood, a complex interchange crosses Interstate 678 and the Jackie Robinson Parkway. The GCP turns east here. After this, 2×3 lanes will be available. You pass through the neighborhoods of Utopia and Terrace Heights, these parts of Queens are less densely built. A little further on, Interstate 295 ends at the GCP. At Alley Pond Park one crosses the Belt Parkway. A few miles away at the Nassau County Line, the GCP merges into the Northern State Parkway further onto Long Island.



Planning for the Grand Central Parkway began in 1922, to create a connection between Queens Boulevard and Nassau County so that city dwellers could better access the highly popular beaches of Jones Beach. From the initial planning stages, the intention was to construct the GCP as a grade-separated road. Following Long Island’s topography, the highway was supposed to provide views of Long Island Sound to the north and Jamaica Bay to the south, at the time the GCP area was far from being built up. Queens then had a population of 440,000 in 1920, compared to 2,229,000 in 2000. In 1924, New York Governor Robert Mosesin the position of chairman for the Long Island State Parks Commission (LISPC) and Moses saw this as an opportunity to give city dwellers access to Long Island’s beautiful beaches.

Jones Park opened in 1929, and then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed his support for the parkway with the following announcement; I want to see the Northern State Parkway connected to the Triborough Bridge via the Grand Central Parkway so that those who live in the Hudson Valley can get to Long Island more easily and Long Island gets more visitors.

In 1930, Robert Moses presented the plan to more than 500 civilian leaders via a large map of planned parkways in and around New York City. The route of the Grand Central Parkway was to be extended from the western end of the then-planned Northern State Parkway through Queens to Queens Boulevard at Kew Gardens, then north through Flushing and then west again to the then-proposed Triborough bridge. At the same time, Queens grew from 440,000 inhabitants in 1920 to 1,079,000 inhabitants in 1930. Robert Moses proposed a series of parks along the highway to protect the last undeveloped parts of Queens from urban development. This area was densely forested at the time.

The Grand Central Parkway was designed as a highway surrounded by trees for easy access to Jones Beach and would mean the end of Long Island’s isolation, according to then-Governor Herbert H. Lehman. In addition, the GCP would also grant access to the 1939-1940 World’s Fair to be held in the new Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.


The design requirements reflected the modern thinking of the time. The design took advantage of the hilly terrain (the GCP runs more than 70 meters above sea level in places) and the park-like setting protected the surrounding neighborhoods from the highway, giving motorists a pleasant journey in a park-like setting. In addition, pedestrian/bicycle paths were built in the ribbon parks along the Grand Central Parkway. The eastern portion of the GCP between Kew Gardens and Glen Oaks on the Nassau County border was initially run without a center conductor. Over the entire length of the parkway, Robert Moses designed bridges and viaducts in special design, also ensuring that buses and trucks could not use the road because of the low bridges, as the highway had to retain its park-like atmosphere.

The City of New York took care of the cost of obtaining the right-of-way, while New York State paid for the actual construction. Some 500 tracts of land ranging in size from barely a square meter to 100,000 square meters were to be expropriated by the city. When the Grand Central Parkway was completed, the cost had increased from $6 million to $12 million.

Construction on the Grand Central Parkway began in 1931 with a ceremony held on the border of Queens and Nassau County in Glen Oaks. The first 15-mile section of 2×2 lanes opened in July 1933 between Kew Gardens and Glen Oaks, which was the eastern portion of the GCP connecting to the Northern State Parkway. The opening coincided with that of the Northern State Parkway, which then ran to Roslyn Heights, about eight miles to the east.

In the mid-1930s, money was running out. However, Robert Moses cleared $44 million from the Public Works Administration for the Triborough Bridge and spent it on the Grand Central Parkway. When these funds were raised, Moses ran into another problem: the homes along the Flushing Bay were far too expensive to expropriate. Robert Moses came up with the solution by tucking in a lot of sand from Rockaway Beach and artificially moving the shore up to 100 feet, creating enough space for the six-lane Grand Central Parkway and a bike/footpath along the water. The last missing section, the western section between the Triborough Bridge and the existing section at Kew Gardens, opened in July 1936. This section was 12 kilometers long. In 1937 a. openedcloverleaf with what was then Horace Harding Boulevard (later Interstate 495 ) which was built for the 1939 World’s Fair.


The Grand Central Parkway at Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.

The Grand Central Parkway created a faster and safer route from the city to the beaches and parks on Long Island. The highway not only connected parks, but was one itself. The Grand Central Parkway quickly became popular and the first traffic jams started in the summer of 1936 as thousands of city dwellers flocked to the beaches of Jones Beach. On August 17, 1936, barely a month after the Triborough Bridge opened, long traffic jams erupted on the parkways of Long Island, at the time called the New York metropolitan area’s biggest traffic jam. On Monday, residents of the Bronx learned through the newspapers that the new bridge and the Grand Central Parkway provided a high-speed connection to the beaches around Jones Beach, and people did so en masse.

After World War II, the suburbanization of Nassau County and later Suffolk County increased rapidly. In 1940 there were only 400,000 residents in Nassau County, in 1960 there were already 1,300,000 and the entire county was more or less filled with homes and businesses. A second world exhibition in Flushing Meadows was also announced, forcing the government to tackle the problems. In the late 1950s the Long Island Expressway was opened ( I-495 ), but to no avail, the population grew much faster than the road capacity increased.

In 1959 Robert Moses came up with a plan to improve the main road network. One such $40 million project involved widening the Grand Central Parkway between the Triborough Bridge and Kew Gardens from 2×3 to 2×4 lanes and the portion from Kew Gardens to the Northern State Parkway from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes.

The first phase of the widening took place between Interstate 278 at the Triborough Bridge and Interstate 295 was completed in 1963. No further right-of-way was available at Briarwood and there the access roads were built half above the Grand Central Parkway. The second phase of the widening, between I-295 and the Nassau County border, was completed in 1971. During the reconstruction of these two sections, the Grand Central Parkway was also upgraded to more modern standards, particularly in terms of central reservations, emergency lanes, and on and off ramps. Many bridges between Kew Gardens and Glen Oaks were raised so that buses could use them. Trucks remained banned on the GCP.

When the Astoria Expressway was canceled in 1971, Governor Nelson Rockefeller planned to widen the GCP between Exit 4 and Exit 8 in Astoria and Elmhurst with 10 lanes, 6 for passenger cars and 4 for trucks and buses. This was to address the trucking problems in the north of Queens. After strong criticism of the plans, the plans were called off in May 1971. In 2003, smaller trucks were allowed on the Grand Central Parkway because these vehicles made up 70% of the truck traffic on Astoria Boulevard, which functioned as the truck route through northern Queens.


The last capacity additions were in 1963 on the western part and 1971 on the eastern part, but the problems continued to arise from the growth of traffic from the suburbanization of Suffolk County, and the densification of Queens. Nassau County barely grew after the 1960s because it was simply built over and there was no densification. Queens nevertheless densified, growing from 1,810,000 in 1960 to 2,229,000 in 2000. Suffolk County, though very far from New York, was Long Island’s new grower, growing from 670,000 in 1960 to 1,420. 000 inhabitants in 2000. However, commuter flow from Suffolk County is relatively limited due to the great distance, but there was no capacity left on the Grand Central Parkway, so the problems continued.

Plans for after 2000 only provide for extensive maintenance work, improving connections and nodes, but not adding extra capacity. The political shift from road traffic to public transport in New York since the late 1960s has not improved this situation either. Despite this, the Grand Central Parkway is not as congested as, say, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the Long Island Expressway because these two highways handle much more traffic to the job sites. The GCP is more for through traffic from Bronx to Long Island and for traffic within the north and east of Queens.

Traffic intensities

The Grand Central Parkway is chronically congested, like all New York freeways, and has a staggering 265,000 vehicles at its interchange with Queens Boulevard, Jackie Robinson Parkway and I-678 in Kew Gardens. The western part is relatively quiet with up to 160,000 vehicles on 2×4 lanes. The eastern part has up to 150,000 vehicles on 2×3 lanes.

Exit Location 2008
4 BQE 104,000
5 Astoria Boulevard 127,000
6 94th Street 108,000
7 LaGuardia Airport 145,000
8 111th Street 157,000
9 Northern Boulevard 160,000
10 LIE 176,000
11 69th Road 156,000
12 Queens Boulevard 247,000
13 I-678 263,000
14 Union Turnpike 95,000
16 Parsons Boulevard 138,000
18 Utopia Parkway 139,000
19 188th Street 160,000
20 Francis Lewis Boulevard 144,000
21 I-295 138,000
22 Union Turnpike 142,000
23 Belt Parkway 105,000
24 Little Neck Parkway 150,000
25 Nassau County line 125,000

Lane Configuration

From Unpleasant Lanes
Exit 4 Exit 13 (I-678) 2×4
exit 13 Exit 24 2×3

Grand Central Parkway, New York