Cincinnati’s Purple People Bridge: Past & Present

Cincinnati’s second oldest existing span across the might Ohio River was built in 1872 and was known as the Newport and Cincinnati Bridge. The river span was Cincinnati’s first railroad bridge, and eventually was retrofitted to also accommodate streetcars, pedestrians and automobiles.

The bridge was later renamed the L&N Bridge for the Louisville and Nashville railroad that used the span. The bridge was closed down to both trains and automobiles and was eventually rehabed in 2003 into the “Purple People Bridge” named for its prominent purple color and pedestrianized span across the Ohio River.

The bridge quickly became a local landmark and a spot for art installations, shows and other family-friendly events. At its pinnacle, the bridge became the spot for the Purple People Bridge Climb (video) which was the first of its kind in North America and allowed for people to climb the bridge’s superstructure and walk across the span.

The bridge climb attraction shut down one year after opening, and the group managing the bridge experienced some financial setbacks and have since tried to reorganize themselves and figure out what to do with the historic landmark.

So what’s to come for the Purple People Bridge? What do you use it for, or do you use the bridge at all? Below is a collection of seven photographs I took from the Purple People Bridge. The main pedestrian span was blocked off as crews were deconstructing an art installation that was on the bridge. Joggers, families and leisurely walkers were using the span during that time.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.