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Petition Calls for Repainting Whitman Bridge

Friday, January 25, 2019

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A recently launched petition, spearheaded by the Penn Libraries Kislak Center and the Streets Dept art and culture blog, is proposing repainting the Walt Whitman Bridge rainbow colors to honor LGBTQ representation and the author’s legacy.

Opened in 1957, the single-level suspension bridge is owned by the Delaware River Port Authority, crossing the Delaware River and connecting Philadelphia with Gloucester City, New Jersey.

Petition to Repaint

Naming the bridge after the poet 60 years ago faced its own controversy: Local clergy wrote to DRPA protesting the choice. Now, 200 years after the poet’s birth, the petition is calling for the bridge to be painted with pride flag colors to raise awareness of Whitman's work and mark his contributions to LGBTQ culture.

“While we’ll never know how Whitman may have identified himself in today’s parlance, what we do know is what he wrote about, and that includes his queer attractions and relationships,” according to the petition.

“By painting the Walt Whitman Bridge rainbow we would be recognizing and honoring not only the lived experience of the bridge’s namesake as well as his contributions to queer representation in American literature, but celebrating and inspiring current and future generations of queer Americans by creating one of the country’s largest physical symbols of LGBTQ pride.”

The petition proposes a number of ways to paint the Walt Whitman Bridge: corporate and/or grant funding, wait until the bridge needs to be painted again or adding light projection that would color the bridge rainbow at night, among other options. To date, the petition has gathered 1,626 signatures, and is seeking 2,500 total.

The petition emphasizes that the goal “is to understand if there is wide enough support for painting the Walt Whitman Bridge rainbow. If there is, we’d then take the next steps and look at working with [DRPA] to leverage that support in exploring the best options.”

The design mock-up of what the bridge might look like features the increasingly universal Philly Pride Flag rainbow, which includes black and brown stripes to mark support of racial diversity.

The petition is part of a joint effort between Whitman at 200, a year-long project organized by the Penn Libraries Kislak Center that is aiming to examine Whitman’s contributions to American life, and, a photoblog, not associated with the city agency, that celebrates art on the streets of Philadelphia.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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