Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Naming Rights for The High Bridge

Few people actually know the name of The High Bridge and still fewer know about its past function and future hopes (if you are one of the people who don't know -- look at the information on this site) The select group of people who know the answers to these questions would have no trouble keeping the name of the bridge or its adjacent water tower with the same names.  However, there has been some talk about selling the naming rights to The High Bridge before it is rededicated as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2014.

What is the history of rebranding bridges in New York?  There have been a rash of them lately.  The Triborough Bridge was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.  The Queensboro Bridge was renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.  But these are not the same as selling the naming rights to the highest bidder. These are dedicating the bridges to significant historical figures that are of importance to New Yorkers.

There have been other bridges that have been renamed.  The Brooklyn Bridge was originally the New York and Brooklyn Bridge or it was called the East River Bridge.  The Coles Dam Bridge built in 1797 became the Harlem River Bridge in 1868 when it was rebuilt and then became the Third Avenue Bridge in 1898 when it was rebuilt again and it remains the same after again being rebuilt in 2002.  The Macombs Dam Bridge built in 1816 was replaced by the Central Bridge in 1861 which again became the Macombs Dam Bridge again in the 1890s.

Now here is a twist for you.  The Broadway Bridge which was built in 1895 to cross over the newly constructed Harlem River Ship Canal that connected the Harlem River to the Hudson River was replaced in 1906 and the old Broadway Bridge was floated down to the Harlem River and re-used as the current University Avenue Bridge, so I guess you could say it was renamed.  And, the Welfare Island Bridge was renamed the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

But, what about actually selling the naming rights to a corporation.  Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro wanted to convince the Port Authority to sell the naming rights for Goethals Bridge back a few years ago. That didn't get very far.  There was some discussion of doing the same thing for the George Washington Bridge.  Actually, there have been quite a few bridges in other parts of the country and around the world that have considered selling their naming rights.  Some have actually done it.

It's no wonder that high profile civic structures: stadiums, airports, arenas, etc. sell their naming rights.  The revenue derived from the sale can be used for good civic purposes and the corporations that pay these fees get great name exposure. It's a win-win situation for the community and the corporation.  Some might say that the real price to be paid by the community is the poor taste of having a form of graffiti enshrined on their structures of great artistic beauty.  These decisions are usually hotly debated.

If The High Bridge name were sold, would it be like a very large outdoor advertising sign for the traffic on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge for traffic travelling from the Cross Bronx Expressway to and from the George Washington Bridge? Or, would it be done with a more tasteful approach?

Some attempts have also been made to lease public infrastructure to raise much needed capital for municipalities.  Perhaps the City could lease The High Bridge and allow the lessee to charge a toll to cross the bridge when it is completed.  The funds derived could be used to improve the Highbridge Park or for many other needed civic projects.

 We'd like to know what you think. Please click here to indicate if you support or don't support selling naming rights or leasing The High Bridge.  Or you can just tell us what you think by commenting on this post below.  We will publish the results right here on this site.

last modified 6/7/13

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