Grand Rapids, Michigan (December 2015)
One of the most recognizable bridges near my home is the Blue Bridge, a historic truss bridge in downtown Grand Rapids. Once in use as the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Bridge, today it is a pedestrian bridge that connects downtown to the west side of the Grand River. In recent years, the bridge was repainted. Though given options to choose a different color, the people of Grand Rapids chose to keep it its unique blue color, even though the blue paint had only been used as a primer years ago when the bridge was restored for pedestrian use. But now, new LED lighting allows the bridge to be washed in different colors for special events, and often the lighting is changed to reflect holidays or national events—whether they are tragedies or celebrations—or to bring awareness to movements or campaigns. It’s just one way that Grand Rapids bridges the gap between national and local identity and consciousness in the community.