When you're crawling along the Merritt during rush hour, you're probably not admiring the scenery or thinking of the road as the Queen of Parkways. Now watch filmmaker (and Westporter) Lisa Seidenberg's 2008 documentary, The Road Taken...The Merritt Parkway, and you'll understand how stunning Connecticut's first divided highway, all 37.5 miles of it, seemed when it opened 70 years ago.
"People like road movies, it's a huge genre from 'Easy Rider' to 'Thelma and Louise', a great way to tell a story," Lisa says. "I thought, why not make a road movie about an actual road? That's basically how 'The Road Taken...The Merritt Parkway' was started. It was surprising that no one had thought about making a film on the Merritt before."
The Merritt is still stunning. Driving it, if you move into the right lane, slow down, and take a gander. You'll likely find yourself appreciating its longevity as well as the beauty of its landscaping and the artistry of its bridges. It is a testament to how the construction of something so prosaic as a road could be perceived as so advanced in its day and still, in a much different era, seven decades later, continue to stir the imagination, the NY Times editorialized.
The Merritt already had National Historic Register status, assuring its posterity, when Lisa's documentary brought it more admirers. The film was funded by grants from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism , and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, which protects the road. Screenings were held widely in 2008, and multi-generational audiences packed in to standing room only. Seidenberg's current film, 1939: I Have Seen the Future, takes another look back, this time at how people 70 years ago envisioned modern decades: full of super-highways and glittering innovation -- and, it turns out, oil addiction. To view the film's trailer, click her e.
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