2018-06-07 / Around Town

A Monument to Perseverance: Building the Newport Bridge


(Photo credit John T. Hopf Collection at the Newport Historical Society) (Photo credit John T. Hopf Collection at the Newport Historical Society) A talk on the struggle to build the Newport Bridge from its original momentum following World War II to its opening in 1969, the technological innovations employed in its construction, and its emergence as a cultural icon will be given on Thursday, June 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Newport Historical Society Research Center, 82 Touro St. by Dr. Jim Ricci. His talk is titled “A Monument to Perseverance: The Struggle to Build the Newport Bridge, 1945-1969.”

For more than three centuries, a ferry shuttled passengers across Narragansett Bay’s East Passage from Jamestown to Newport. That service ended on June 28, 1969, the day the Newport Bridge opened. It took a quarter of century for the bridge to receive approval and be constructed. After World War II, traffic from the population centers to the south and west stalled at the Jamestown Ferry Landing. Newport itself was in the process of consciously reinventing itself from a sailor town to a tourist center. Preservation and urban renewal efforts were restoring the community’s built environment in attempts to recapture the town’s reputation as America’s First Resort.

The Newport Bridge has become a cultural icon to Newport and Rhode Island. Its gothic arches invoke Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge.

During the bridge's opening ceremonies, Governor Frank Licht characterized the bridge as a monument to the perseverance of the proponents and bridge builders who got the job done.

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