Newport Southbank Bridge

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Newport Southbank Bridge
The bridge viewed from the river in 2022
Coordinates39°05′53″N 84°29′52″W / 39.098019°N 84.497747°W / 39.098019; -84.497747
CrossesOhio River
LocaleNewport, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio
Other name(s)Purple People Bridge
DesignTruss bridge
Total length2,670 feet (810 m)
Newport and Cincinnati Bridge
LocationSpans Ohio River, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1868–1872 (original)
  • 1896–1897 (replacement trusswork on same, but widened, piers)
ArchitectBecker, M.J.; et al.
Architectural styleSubdivided Pratt truss
NRHP reference No.01000364[1]
Added to NRHPApril 17, 2001
  • April 1, 1872 (original bridge)
  • 1897 (present bridge, built on the original piers)
Purple-clad people crossing the Newport Southbank Bridge
Stereoscopic image of the bridge before its 1897 reconstruction.

The Newport Southbank Bridge, popularly known as the Purple People Bridge, stretches 2,670 feet over the Ohio River, connecting Newport, Kentucky to downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.


The original bridge first opened on April 1, 1872, under the name Newport and Cincinnati Bridge, and was Cincinnati's first railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River.[2] The bridge piers were built with stone from Adams County, Ohio.[3] The present bridge, which was built on the original piers (which were widened during that work), opened in 1897 to streetcar, pedestrian and automobile traffic.[4]

In 1904, the bridge was renamed the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) Railroad Bridge, and this name remained until the bridge was rehabilitated and re-opened as a pedestrian-only bridge in May 2003.

The bridge was closed to railroad traffic in 1987, and later closed to automobile traffic in October 2001 after years of neglect and deterioration.

On April 17, 2001, the L&N Railroad Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]

In late 2001, the city of Newport, Kentucky, and Southbank Partners, an economic development group, used $4 million in state funds to restore the bridge. When it was time to decide on what color to paint it, a variety of options were explored. Computer-generated images of the bridge were shown to participants in more than a dozen focus groups, all of whom picked the color purple as a top choice. It was soon coined the "Purple People Bridge" by area residents.

The bridge provides convenient access to the "Newport on the Levee" development in Newport, Kentucky, as well as Downtown Cincinnati.

In 2006, it became possible for the public to cross the bridge via its superstructure wearing appropriate safety gear. There are similar bridge climb experiences in Australia and New Zealand. Citing lack of funds and low attendance, the Purple People Bridge Climb closed on May 23, 2007.[6]

The bridge remains open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  2. ^ Sonnenberg, Elissa (2006). "Purple People Greeter". Cincinnati Magazine. Cincinnati USA: 2006 City Guide. p. 14. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
  3. ^ Evans, Nelson Wiley (1900). A History of Adams County, Ohio: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. E B. Stivers. pp. 427.
  4. ^ "History". The Purple People Bridge, Newport Southbank Bridge Company. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  5. ^ "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 4/16/01 through 4/20/01". National Register of Historic Places Program: Weekly List. National Park Service. May 30, 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  6. ^ Demeropolis, Tom (October 19, 2012). "Purple People Bridge would be 'international attraction'". Cincinnati Business Courier. Retrieved 16 December 2013.

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