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The Boston Post Road was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York Citymarker and Boston, Massachusettsmarker that evolved into the first major highways in the United Statesmarker. The Upper Post Road was originally called the Pequot Path and had been in use by native Americans long before Europeans arrived. Some of these important native trails had seen so much traffic over the years that they were two feet below the surrounding woodland.

The colonists first used this trail to deliver the mail using post riders. The first ride to lay-out the Upper Post Road started on January 1, 1673 . Later, the newly-blazed trail was widened and smoothed to the point where horse-drawn wagons or stagecoaches could use the road. During the nineteenth century, turnpike companies took over and improved pieces of the road. Large sections of the various routes are still called the King's Highway and Boston Post Road. Much of the Post Road is now U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 5, and U.S. Route 20.

Mileposts were measured from the intersection of Broadwaymarker and Wall Streetmarker in New York (one block west of Federal Hallmarker) and from the old Boston city-line on Washington Street, near the present-day Massachusetts Turnpike.

The three major alignments were the Lower Post Road (now U.S. Route 1 along the shore via Providence, Rhode Islandmarker), the Upper Post Road (now US 5 and US 20 from New Haven, Connecticutmarker by way of Springfield, Massachusettsmarker), and the Middle Post Road (which diverged from the Upper Road in Hartford, Connecticutmarker, and ran northeastward to Boston via Pomfret, Connecticutmarker).

In some towns, the area near the Boston Post Road has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, since it was often the first road in the area, and some buildings of historical significance were built along it. It was, without exaggeration, the colonies' (and, later, the country's) Main Street. The Boston Post Road Historic District, including part of the road in Rye, New York has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Post Road is also famous for milestones that date from the eighteenth century, many of which survive to this day.

New York

The Post Road in New York

Manhattan

Much of the route in Manhattanmarker, where it was known as the Eastern Post Road, was abandoned between 1839 and 1844, when the current street grid was laid-out as part of the Commissioners' Plan that had been originally advanced in 1811.The following sections of the road still exist:

These milestones were once present in Manhattan:

The Bronx

In southwestern Westchester County, now The Bronxmarker, the Boston Post Road came off the Kings Bridge and quickly turned east, with the Albany Post Road continuing north to Albany, New Yorkmarker. It passed over the Bronx River on the Williams Bridgemarker, and left The Bronx on Bussing Avenue, becoming Kingsbridge Road in Westchester Countymarker. In more detail, it used the following modern roads:
  • Kingsbridge Avenue-230th Street-Broadway-231st Street
  • Albany Crescent-Kingsbridge Terrace-Heath Avenue
  • gap across Jerome Park Reservoirmarker
  • Van Cortlandt Avenue
  • gap at Williamsbridge Reservoir
  • Reservoir Place-Gun Hill Road-White Plains Road (southbound lanes)
  • gap from near 217th Street to near 231st Street
  • Bussing Avenue
  • gap from Grace Avenue to De Reimer Avenue
  • Bussing Place-Bussing Avenue


Westchester County



The Boston Post Road entered what is now Westchester Countymarker on Kingsbridge Road, and turned north on Third Avenue-Columbus Avenue (Route 22), forking off onto Colonial Place. It continued across Sandford Boulevard (Sixth Street) where there is no longer a road, and curved east and southeast around the hill, hitting Sandford Boulevard-Colonial Avenue at the Hutchinson River Parkway interchange. It then continued east on Colonial Avenue-Kings Highway, merging with U.S. Route 1. From there to the Connecticutmarker border, the Post Road used US 1, except for several places, where Post Road used the following roads:
  • The southbound side of US 1-Huguenot Street through downtown New Rochellemarker.
  • Old Boston Post Road north of downtown New Rochelle.
  • Old Post Road-Orienta Avenue south of downtown Mamaroneckmarker.
  • Mamaroneck Avenue-Prospect Avenue-Tompkins Avenue north of downtown Mamaroneck.
  • Old Post Road at Playland Parkway in Ryemarker.


Upper Post Road

Routes of the Boston Post Road
The Upper Post Road was the most traveled of the three routes, being the furthest from the shore and thus having the fewest and shortest river crossings. It was also considered to have the best taverns, which contributed to its popularity. The Upper Post Road roughly corresponds to the alignment of U.S. Route 5 from New Haven, Connecticutmarker, to Hartfordmarker; Connecticut Route 159 from Hartford to Springfield, Massachusettsmarker; U.S. Route 20 from Springfield to Warren, Massachusettsmarker (via Route 67); Massachusetts Route 9 from Warren through Worcestermarker to Shrewsburymarker; and U.S. Route 20 from Shrewsbury to Boston.

Connecticut

Massachusetts

Lower Post Road

The Lower Post Road hugged the shoreline of Long Island Soundmarker all the way to Rhode Islandmarker and then turned north through Providencemarker to Boston. This is now the best-known of the routes. The Lower Post Road roughly corresponds to the original alignment of U.S. Route 1 in eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Connecticut

Rhode Island

Kingstonmarker
Providencemarker


Massachusetts

In Massachusettsmarker, the Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike was established in 1803 as a straighter route between Pawtucket, Rhode Islandmarker and Roxbury, Massachusettsmarker, mostly west of the Post Road. It is known as Washington Street in many of the towns it passes through. [9986] Due to its avoidance of built-up areas, the southern half of this road was little-used. In addition, another well-used route passed west of this turnpike along current Route 1A.

South Attleboromarker
The Post Road entered Massachusetts at the town of Attleboromarker's Newport Avenue (Route 1A) through the settlement of South Attleboro. It continued northeast on Newport Avenue along Route 123, splitting to the north (staying with Newport Avenue) to cross into North Attleborough.

North Attleboroughmarker
South of North Attleborough center, the old road is known as Old Post Road. The old road crossed the turnpike (now US 1) just south of the intersection with Route 120, forming a small curve before merging with the turnpike north of the intersection. This curved alignment is now gone, so traffic must use US 1. Additionally, US 1 leaves the turnpike at the Route 120 intersection to bypass North Attleborough center on East Washington Street.

The Lower Post Road passed through North Attleborough Center on Washington Street, later used as part of the turnpike. Another short curved alignment still exists to the west of Washington Street north of the center. Just north of this, the route crosses the Ten Mile Rivermarker and then enters a complicated five-way intersection with US 1 and Route 1A. US 1 straight ahead is the old turnpike, and US 1 to the right was built in the 1930s. The Post Road went to the right onto Elmwood Street. The fork to the left onto Route 1A through Plainvillemarker center was an alternate route to Boston.

Elmwood Street enters the town of Plainvillemarker, where it becomes Messenger Street. The road merges with Route 106 before crossing Route 152 at Wilkins Four Corners and entering Foxboroughmarker.

There is a road passing from the town of Sharonmarker into East Walpolemarker which is known as Old Post Road, which continues north as Pleasant Street into Norwoodmarker. [9987]

Sharonmarker
East Walpolemarker (part of Walpolemarker)
Norwoodmarker
Islingtonmarker (part of Westwoodmarker)
Dedhammarker
Roxburymarker
Bostonmarker


Middle Post Road

The Middle Post Road was the shortest and fastest route, but it traversed less-populated areas, so it was less used than the other two routes. It split from the Upper Post Road in Hartford roughly along current U.S. Route 44 and Route 31 to Willimanticmarker (this was the original alignment of U.S. Route 6). It continues northeast along Route 66 and U.S. Route 6, then along Route 198 and Route 244 to Pomfretmarker. From Pomfret, it headed into Massachusetts via the town of Thompsonmarker, along Thompson Road. In Massachusetts, the Middle Post Road runs along sections of modern Route 16 to Mendonmarker, then through Bellinghammarker, and then via Route 109 from Medwaymarker to Dedhammarker where it meets with the Lower Post Road (old U.S. Route 1) heading into Boston.

Connecticut

Hartfordmarker
Manchestermarker
Boltonmarker
Coventrymarker
Mansfield Four Corners, Connecticutmarker
Phoenixvillemarker
Pomfretmarker
Putnammarker
Thompsonmarker


Massachusetts

Douglasmarker
Crosses the Massachusetts state line into the town of Douglas as Southwest Main Street. This section passes through Douglas State Forest and is one of the most remote parts of the route that is still used as a public road. A section here was still unpaved until 2002. At the center of Douglas, the Post Road follows Massachusetts Route 16 eastward to East Douglas. Where Route 16 turns south, the Post Road continues east as Northeast Main Street, which leads to the Uxbridge town line. French General Lafayette traveled this road to join forces with Washington, and stopped in Douglas during the Revolutionary War.

Uxbridgemarker
Entering Uxbridge, the name of the road changes to Hartford Avenue. Hartford Avenue is a major cross-town road and follows the route of the Post Road for its entire length. From the Douglas town line to the intersection of Massachusetts Route 122, it is known as Hartford Avenue West; from Route 122 to the Mendon town line, it is known as Hartford Avenue East. The original stone arch bridge over the Blackstone Canal is still in use today. There was a Civil War encampment near the stone-arch bridge, and the road was used by troops during the French and Indian Wars and as a supply route during the War of 1812. George Washington stopped here a number of times when traveling this road, including when he took command of the Continental Army at Bostonmarker in 1775, and on his post-Inaugural tour of New Englandmarker in 1789.

Mendonmarker
The Post Road enters the town from Uxbridge as Hartford Avenue West. It follows that road to Route 16, which follows the route of the Post Road for approximately one-half mile eastward to Maple Street, which follows the route into Mendon town center. From there, the Post Road followed a Providence-Worcester post road south out of the village. This section is now part of Providence Street. About south of the town center the roads diverged. The Post Road heads east, now known as Hartford Avenue East. This road follows the original Post Road route to the Bellingham town line. Historic milestone 37 is still located along the route.[9988]

Bellinghammarker
The Post Road enters from Mendon as Hartford Avenue. Massachusetts Route 126 joins the road shortly before crossing over Interstate 495. Route 126 follows the Post Road route the remainder of the way to the Medway town line.

Medwaymarker
The original Post Road from Mendon followed Village Street through Medway to the Tavern and Inn in Medway Village near the Charles River. The post road followed (present day) Village Street through Millis (part of Medway until 1885). In the early 1800s, the Hartford and Dedham Turnpike was built (now Rt 109), a straight route built through the Great Black Swamp, and up a large hill in the center of town.

Millismarker
The original Post Road in Millis followed Village St from Medway, crossing current Massachusetts Rt 109, and then following the current Dover Road to the location of a series of Bridges over the Charles River leading into Medfield. In the period from 1806 to 1810, the Hartford and Dedham Turnpike was built (now Route 109), nearly going broke in attempting to build a causeway over the Charles River at the Medfield town line and through the Great Black Swamp.

Medfieldmarker
Dedhammarker


See also



External links



Footnotes

  1. Bourne, p.13
  2. Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, January 1917, Vol. 50, page 386, [1]
  3. Declassified 4-A: Fourth Avenue and Avenue A, accessed May 22, 2006
  4. One Mile House, on the corner of Rivington Street, demolished in 1921, was a meeting-ground for Tammany Hall politicians. "Bowery Landmark in $170,000 lease", The New York Times 1 April 1921; the painted sign for One Mile House, on the flank of a building on the east side of The Bowery, survived into the 1980s.


References

  • Bourne, Russell, The Red King's Rebellion, 1990, ISBN 0689120001
  • From Path to Highway: The Story of the Boston Post Road by Gail Gibbons, ISBN 0-690-04514-X, HarperCollins 1986
  • Horseback on the Boston Post Road, by Laurie Lawlor, ISBN 0-7434-3626-1, Aladdin, 2002
  • 1789 strip map from New York to Stratford (0-73)



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