Artist's rendering of the Washington Avenue Bridge, Alumni News, October 1965, Courtesy of University Archives
While Paint the Bridge dates back to the early 1990s, there were previous attempts to make the walkways on the Washington Avenue Bridge more hospitable to students, none of which have been as successful. The Washington Avenue bridge opened on October 4, 1965, replacing a bridge that had been built in a slightly different location in 1885. Once the old bridge began to sway in the wind its safety had become questionable. Yet, it took years for the original bridge, which lacked a covered walkway, to be replaced.
Artist's rendering of the interior of the Gallery, Alumni News, October 1965, Courtesy of University Archives
The architect, Winston Close, had grand plans for the bridge and thought that the bridge would be known throughout the world as an exemplary bridge design. There were high hopes in particular for the walkway, or the Gallery, as it was originally known. The goal was to include restaurants, ticket booths, a bookstore and art galleries, but the bridge would not have been able to handle the additional weight. However, the university did hold events on the bridge, and the first event was a sale of student art works in May, 1968.
Paint the Bridge, 2010