(Re)naming the Hot Metal Bridge
Clearly, there are still a lot of emotions over the tenure of Tom Murphy. If I could shape the debate (not to even presume there is a debate actually) over this I would say it is not worth getting into the details over whether one agreed or disagreed with any specific policy over the years. From just the historical perspective, the 12 year tenure of the Murphy Administration makes this an obvious question. Consider that on the list of all Pittsburgh mayors, the 12 years he was in office is 2nd only to David Lawrence himself. The list of mayors with the longest terms in office is:
David L. Lawrence 1946-1959
Tom Murphy 1994-2006
Joseph M. Barr 1959-1970
Richard S. Caliguiri 1977-1988
Cornelius D. Scully 1936-1946
John Darragh 1817-1825
Charles H. Kline 1926-1933
Peter F. Flaherty 1970-1977
Sophie Masloff 1988-1994
William A. Magee 1909-1914
It is odd looking at the Murphy years in retrospect and compare that to what things looked like when TM first ran for Mayor. But just on the question of the bridge recently completed: It has been my observation that friends and foes alike credit the Murphy administration with most of the trail system that was set up within the City of Pittsburgh. I swear I have heard others talk about the possibility of naming the entire trail system for Tom Murphy, but I can’t place where that came from. So even if you oppose the general idea of naming things for him, the naming of just the pedestrian bridge could be the lesser option for posterity.
Musing more broadly, I will point out my previous post on the South Side Works redevelopment. Again, no matter what you think of the policies involved in getting that project completed it is clearly a big problem to deal with any of the region’s brownfield sites and the former J&L plant was one of the biggest. For anyone who has used any part of the trail system as it exists along the Mon, or the new bridge itself, that older post of mine has the image of what used to be on that site. That all didn't evaporate without an awful amount of work.
So it is a cop out to attribute this to an anonymous commenter. I would say for myself that naming the bridge makes a certain amount of sense for a simple reason. When you consider that the emphasis on trail development was not something that was happening on it’s own here, you have to ask how our trail system came to be. But if this comes to pass I will ask permission if his or her identity can be made known for the historical record so that credit (or blame I suppose) can be property placed.
Moreover, when you look back on transportation policy in the US, the focus here like most everywhere was focused solely on cars. Be it on the roads needed to commute by automobile or the parking needed to store your car while at work there was little effor on any alternatives for a long time. There is a great video on that mentality in the Prelinger Archives. See the snippets of Pittsburgh in the 1955 advocacy film: Freedom of the American Road. It is not as scary as the earlier anti-urban film I pointed out called The City... but they are variations on a theme. So the trails or the new bridge are symbols of a big shift in attitudes toward cities if nothing else.
Where is my bunker? I am pretty sure I have ranged grid 0-0.