As the new Mississippi River bridge ceremonially breaks ground today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a nice article on the efforts of archeologists to excavate and document sites to be disrupted by the construction of the bridge. Since the area in question was host to 19th century urban neighborhoods and Mississippian culture dating, perhaps, to the 9th century, these digs are important undertakings.
But as I read the article, something else was on my mind. What will the bridge be named?
Wait, what? It was already given a name? By the state of Missouri? In 2005?
Yes. The bridge is to be known as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge.
Without getting overly political, I'm not happy about the name or the way it came about. Does Ronald Reagan have any association with Missouri? I know he was born in (northern) Illinois, but that doesn't count by my judgment. Also, doesn't it seem natural to consult the localities that the bridge will connect before naming it? Was this ever done?
The article states the bridge's Missouri landing would be Brooklyn Avenue (itself named after nearby Brooklyn, Illinois). Why not call it the Brooklyn Bridge?
Many bridges are named after the street on which they land. The Poplar Street Bridge is a prominent example. Since the bridge is to feed into Cass, why not call it the Cass Avenue Bridge?
If the state wanted to name the structure after a famous person, why did it not choose a famous St. Louisan or Metro East figure? I would have loved to have seen a Josephine Baker Memorial Bridge, to name just one.
The Post-Dispatch article brings up an even better idea for naming the bridge: the city's mound-builder history, which spans both side of the river. What about the Mound City Bridge?
Basically, any other name would have been better for this new bridge. Missouri, where is your creativity and pride in place?
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