The King's Best Highway, by Eric Jaffe, a highly readable book about the history and development of the Boston Post Road, a road I thought I knew.
During college, I drove my Yamaha 50 motorcycle down the Boston Post Road (Route 1) from Boston to Bridgeport (CT) and then on to New York City. It only (!) took 10 hours, door to door, not including the overnight stay in Bridgeport with my dorm buddy and her family. In many spots, Route 1 coincided with Route 95, meaning I was riding a few short inches away from gigantic 18-wheelers that weren't at all impressed by my bike's 50 mph top speed.
Not only did the author trace BPR's surprising history from the 1600s to the present, he also described the economic, social, political, and cultural changes that the road brought about in New England and through New York City and its northern suburbs.
I didn't realize, for example, that "Colonel" Albert A. Pope, a bicycle entrepreneur in Hartford, was largely responsible for the movement to upgrade roads between Bean Town and the Big Apple, seeing them as bike paths! I also didn't know that bicycling clubs were the first to print foldout road maps for members. And I wasn't aware that the BPR went through Hartford, not just along the shoreline.
One of my great-uncles worked in Bridgeport, a hub of industrial activity that expanded thanks to P.T. Barnum's never-ending civic promotions plus, of course, the availability of rail, trolley, and road travel along the Boston Post Road.
This book would be a fun read for any genealogist researching the lives of ancestors who worked or lived in or near the Boston-to-New York corridor.
- Wm Tyler Bentley's story
- Abraham & Annie Berk's Story
- Isaac & Henrietta Birk's story
- Mary A. Demarest's story
- Farkas & Kunstler Families
- Rachel & Jonah Jacobs' story
- Robert & Mary Larimer's story
- Meyer & Tillie Mahler's story
- Halbert McClure from Donegal
- Wood family of Ohio
- McKibbin & Larimer
- Schwartz family, Ungvar
- John & Mary Slatter's story
- Steiner & Rinehart story
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