Menu Contact/Location

Banish the boring bridge paint

By Dave Copeland
Monday, October 6, 2003

It was an honest mistake: In one of the first dozen or so articles I wrote for the Trib, I inadvertently called the Roberto Clemente Bridge the “Sixth Street Bridge.”

Twenty or so phone calls and several e-mail messages later, I had learned a valuable lesson about my new hometown: Pittsburghers take their sports heroes and their bridges very seriously.

Nearly four years later, I know all of the region’s landmark bridges (although I still don’t know why Pittsburghers have a fear of crossing bridges). But I still think my mistake is forgivable, given the fact that seemingly every bridge in the region is painted the same shade of Majestic Pee Yellow.

Oh wait, that’s Aztec Yellow, according to City Councilman William Peduto, who says he’s as bored with the color as the rest of us. So much so that he fired off a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell when work was completed on the 16th Street Bridge and it was painted — yawn — Aztec Yellow.

Peduto is hoping that someone will listen to a recommendation made by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation a few years ago to think about painting the bridges different colors. He’s still waiting for a response from Rendell. In the meantime, he’s come up with an idea to get the ball rolling.

“The Roberto Clemente Bridge, when it’s lit up at night, is beautiful from almost any angle in the city,” Peduto said. “Then you have the other two behind it, and they just look dull.”

So Peduto wants to find corporate sponsors who will foot the bill for upgrading the Seventh and Ninth street bridges.

He’d like to see the Seventh Street Bridge — which connects the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side to the Golden Triangle’s Cultural District — painted ultraviolet purple and named after the artist. The Ninth Street Bridge — which links the environmentally friendly convention center with the Allegheny Valley — could be painted green and named after noted environmentalist Rachel Carson.

“You’re looking at three people who have had a great impact on the region. One in sports, one in art and one in science and literature,” Peduto said.

Unlike many people in the region, Peduto sees the bridges as important pieces of the region’s history — not the barriers that have been safely protecting the North Hills from the South Hills (and vice versa) for several generations.

“We have so many opportunities to use our bridges to make the region unique,” Peduto said. “Or we can just ignore them and keep painting them Aztec Yellow.”

Dave Copeland is a reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at or (412) 320-7922.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review © Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633