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Pittsburgh bridge renamed for Brooklyn Bridge historian McCullough

David McCullough. Photo by William B. McCullough

From Associated Press and Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The 16th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh has been renamed for Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough on his 80th birthday.

County officials gathered Sunday to rename the bridge in McCullough's honor. A Pittsburgh native and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he says no honor has touched him like the decision to rename the bridge after him.

The span across the Allegheny River was built in 1923 to connect the Strip District with the historic H.J. Heinz plant. The county council had approved the name change in December and deemed Sunday "David McCullough Day."

McCullough is the author of “The Great Bridge,” which was first published 40 years ago. The expertly crafted book traces the history of the Brooklyn Bridge’s construction, from the lives lost during the fourteen-year project to the social politics surrounding the endeavor. McCullough also divulges the crucial role that the Roebling family played in the bridge’s construction.

It was reported in the Heights Press several years ago that McCullough had lived in Brooklyn Heights when he was working for Time, Inc. In a television interview a few years ago, the author talked about his experience in the Heights, living in proximity to so many historic events he has covered. He had resided just around the corner from the Columbia Heights house where an ailing Washington Roebling observed and supervised Brooklyn Bridge construction, using a telescope and his wife Emily as messenger.

McCullough's Heights residence was also just up the hill from the Fulton Ferry Landing, from which Gen. George Washington's troops had secretly evacuated to escape certain annihilation by the British Army.

And, as the award-wining biographer of Harry Truman, McCullough recalled that it was on the streets of Brooklyn Heights, just in front of the Towers Hotel, that he met Truman serendipitously as the former President headed for a political dinner. It would be decades later that he would write about Truman, but McCullough recalled with a twinkle in his eye that he wished he could have had the prescience to say, "Someday I'm going to write a book about you, Mr. President."

McCullough joins Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson among those who have city bridges named for them.

July 8, 2013 - 3:00pm


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