Title: Our Parkway
Author: The Virginia Gazette
Publisher: The Virginia Gazette
Gazette columnist Jim Baker once referred to the Colonial Parkway as "America's skinniest National Park."
Born out of the Restoration and the Depression, it has been the subject of many articles. Now comes a concise picture book in the Arcadia series, "Images of America."
Frances Watson Clark of Williamsburg has culled and assembled a detailed chronology of the parkway as it extends 23 miles between Yorktown and Jamestown.
Clark considers it "truly an architectural marvel -- a sort of paved timeline through America's Colonial period, linking three distinct and historically important communities with a route unmarred by modern roadside development and billboards."
She begins by crediting the famous Horace Albright as one of two key National Park Service directors who launched the idea at the suggestion of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and others. Albright was featured in Ken Burns' PBS series on the Park Service.
One beauty of the parkway is that it follows the York River on one side and the James River on the other. That was easier said than done, since the Navy had to give up land, and executives with Colonial Williamsburg were not wild about cutting through the newly restored Historic Area. At least one alternative route would have gone around town through Rockefeller Woods.
The tunnel was done by 1942. "The advent of World War II, however, meant a diversion of funds and manpower to the war effort," Clark writes. So the tunnel didn't open until 1949, and the Jamestown leg was completed for Queen Elizabeth's first visit in 1957.