It’s a birthday party.
The Purple People Bridge turned 150 this year and a series of events throughout the summer celebrated this historic milestone. The final event in the series is the Back Roads Wine Festival from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, August 11. It’s free and open to the public.
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“We hope everyone will come down to enjoy the cool breeze on deck, celebrate our 150th, and enjoy live music, food trucks, craft vendors, and our area’s award-winning wineries,” the president said. of The Purple People Bridge Company, Will Weber. .
The Back Roads Wine Festival will feature wineries from Kentucky and Ohio. You can admire beautiful views from the deck while tasting award-winning wines from local vineyards and wineries.
The event will also feature craft vendors, food trucks and live music by The Northern Kentucky Derby.
All proceeds from the event go towards the preservation and upkeep of the Purple People Bridge.
According to the bridge’s website, the Newport Southbank Bridge Company and the cities of Cincinnati and Newport have worked together to highlight its importance to our region.
So what is the story and why is it so important? Here is a throwback.
History of the Purple People’s Bridge
It wasn’t always a pedestrian bridge
The Newport Southbank Bridge opened on April 1, 1872, seven years after the Civil War ended. According to the Purple People Bridge website, it was the first railroad bridge that crossed the Ohio River, connecting Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky.
The Little Miami Railroad, which had terminal facilities in Cincinnati, originally owned the bridge.
In 1904 it was renamed the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Bridge, or L&N for short. During this time, the western part of the bridge was repaired and repaved to accommodate automobiles.
In the 1940s, streetcar service over the bridge ceased. The cantilevered outer track was removed and the central tram track became a pedestrian walkway.
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Then, in 1987, the bridge ended all rail traffic, causing the structure to deteriorate through the 1990s. The L&N Bridge was later acquired by CSX and renamed after the company.
During the second half of the decade, developers announced plans to build the Newport Aquarium and the Newport on the Levee entertainment complex. Meanwhile, public interest grew in saving the bridge.
Through community efforts, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 2001, and was permanently closed to automobiles.
CSX eventually donated its portion of the bridge to the city of Newport. The city then transferred ownership to the Newport Southbank Bridge Co., which owns, operates and maintains the historic landmark. The City of Newport and Southbank Partners also received $4 million in public funds to paint and restore the 2,670-foot bridge.
Currently, it serves as a pedestrian bridge, tourist attraction, and event venue between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
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How did the bridge get its name and color?
Southbank Partners held focus groups when planning the restoration of the bridge. He showed computer-generated images of the bridge’s appearance in different colors to more than a dozen groups.
In each group, purple and green were among the top picks.
In a 2003 Enquirer article, Ted Bushelman, a Southbank volunteer and longtime director of communications at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, said purple was a good color for public use, such as a bridge. .
Bushelman, a Boone County native, worked in television in the 1960s and wrote his master’s thesis on “The Psychology of Color” while at Xavier University.
The group created a shade of purple for the bridge based on their input and that of the focus group.
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Climbing the Purple People’s Bridge
The 2006 Purple People Bridge Climb was inspired by other bridge climbs in Australia and New Zealand. Dennis L. Speigel, governing member of the Purple People Bridge Climb, told The Enquirer it was the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere.
Although the Purple People Bridge Climb is only 140ft above the Ohio River, compared to the 440ft climb in Australia, it allowed participants to see breathtaking views of the Queen City from a single point of view.
Unfortunately, the attraction closed in 2007 after disappointing attendance the previous year.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that organizers predicted 30,000 to 40,000 people would climb, according to market research. Instead, around 10,000 people participated.
Although there has never been another bridge climb, the monument remains open to the public.