Merritt Parkway Toll Booth Plaza
Built in the late 1930s, the Merritt Parkway was designed for beauty as well as efficiency in traveling through southern Connecticut. The intent of the road was to bring the weary city driver into a restful park-like setting which was accomplished by landscape architect Weld T. Chase, and the head engineer, Earl Wood. George Dunkelberger added 68 unique and spectacular bridges which still stand today along the 37.5 mile road. Mr. Dunkelberger also designed the tollbooth plazas, the first of which opened in Greenwich in 1940.
When Connecticut decided it could use the revenue from a toll charge on the parkway, both the plaza and the single booth method were used. Eventually, there were three plazas built, one each at Greenwich, Milford and Wallingford. In 1940, gas was 20 cents a gallon, the toll was 10 cents, and the speed limit was 35 mph. It took about two hours to travel the 70 mile drive from Stratford to New York City, which was considerable improvement over the five hour trip on the Post Road.
The design of the plazas was rustic in nature to blend in with the environment. A cabin like design using logs and simple green wooden parts was chosen for these small structures. Almost 50 years later the state decided to end all tolls in Connecticut and those on the Merritt Parkway closed in June of 1988. At that time, the Friends of Boothe Park, Inc. saved the toll booth plaza from the Milford site and had it moved and restored at Boothe Memorial Park and Museum are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.