Rolling Kegs Downhill And The Story Of The Abandoned Highways In Staten Island’s Greenbelt


The abandoned highways once sat in Sunnyside right by what’s now the Petrides School Complex, once the College of Staten Island campus, criss-crossing high over the Staten Island Expressway. These were the interchanges for the never-completed Richmond Parkway, which runs from the Outerbridge Crossing to Richmond Avenue and Arthur Kill Road, but stops there.

At that point, the highway ends abruptly, as conservationists in the late 1960s prevented the razing of the SI Greenbelt forests in its path.

For decades, the abandoned highways served as a path for the Greenbelt Blue Trail, connecting with the Blue trail at Clove Lakes Park with the Blue Trail at High Rock Park. The abandoned overpasses also served as a remote spot for young people, teens, and even twenty-somethings, to chill out and party.

The abandoned highways were the site of many illicit keg parties. in April of 2008, I found two (recently drained) kegs up there and wanted to return them for a deposit. (I was in the habit of cleaning up the woods, anyway, and redeemed keg deposits could buy lunch at a local Chinese food joint.)

In the accompanying YouTube video, you will see two kegs being rolled down the hill, so that they could be removed from the parklands. The overpasses were adjacent to woodlands called “Deer Park” on Todt Hill. The trail the kegs were rolled down was on the other side of the overpasses, closer to Clove Lakes Park.

As of now, the people of Staten Island no longer have a way to cross the highways on the Blue Greenbelt walking trail. The overpasses were removed because they were thought to be an obstruction to drivers on the expressway below. Since when are roads crossing over a highways an obstruction?

That was part of a highway project that would “decrease traffic” by moving exists and getting rid of entrances. Keeping cars from getting onto a highway will surely reduce traffic!

Most hikers miss the abandoned overpasses, as there was a great view of much of Staten Island, as well as the Verrazzano Bridge, and one could walk from West Brighton all the way to New Dorp via woodland trails. The abandoned highways will be sadly missed by many Islanders. -Doon Ryderz


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