The Newport Southbank Bridge (popularly known as the Purple People Bridge after the Sheb Wooley song Purple People Eater) stretches 2,670 feet over the Ohio River, connecting Newport, Kentucky to downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the longest pedestrian-only bridge in the United States connecting two states.
The bridge first opened on April 1, 1872, under the name Newport and Cincinnati Bridge, and was Cincinnati's first railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River. Over the course of the next 35 years, the bridge would be retrofitted to accommodate streetcar, pedestrian and automobile traffic.
In 1904, the bridge was renamed the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) Railroad Bridge, and this name remained until the bridge was rehabilitated and re-opened as a pedestrian-only bridge in May 2003.
The bridge was closed to railroad traffic in 1987, and later closed to automobile traffic in October 2001 after years of neglect and deterioration.
In late 2001, the city of Newport, Kentucky, and Southbank Partners, an economic development group, used $4 million in state funds to restore the bridge. When it was time to decide on what color to paint it, a variety of options were explored. Computer-generated images of the bridge were shown to participants in more than a dozen focus groups, all of whom picked the color purple as a top choice. It was soon coined the "Purple People Bridge" by area residents.