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New Orleans Trivia

What's the story on the blue flag above the center lane of traffic on the downtown side of the Crescent City Connection?

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All


Hey Blake,

When crossing the Crescent City Connection going to the West Bank, I noticed a blue flag permanently affixed above the center lane of traffic on the downtown side of the bridge. The flag is adorned with a star at each of the four corners and a pelican in the center. Any ideas as to its significance?

Preston Meche

Dear Preston,

  Construction on the first bridge to connect downtown New Orleans to the West Bank began in 1954, and the bridge was opened to the public in 1958. The official name of the bridge was the Greater New Orleans Bridge, although many locals referred to it as the Mississippi River Bridge. A second bridge, parallel to the first, opened in 1988, and a year later there was a public contest to name the bridges. The official name became the Crescent City Connection. It is the fifth largest cantilever bridge in the world.

  Inspired by the New York Port Authority and its toll bridges, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Neville Levy led the initiative to have the bridge built, and he later served as chairman of the Mississippi River Bridge Authority. His supporters thought the bridge should have been named in his honor, but the Bridge Authority's board of directors voted to honor Levy in a different way. In 1970, the board dedicated the bridge to Levy by placing blue plaques with white stars in their four corners and a pelican, Louisiana's state bird, in the middle at each end of the bridge. The stars represent a promise made by then-Gov. Robert Kennon, who said Levy would be promoted from captain to four-star admiral on the governor's staff if he could overcome the many obstacles faced in having the bridge erected.

  When Levy died in 1974, several organizations wanted to rename the structure Levy Bridge. Levy's son advocated for Levy Bridge again when it was time to name the second bridge. In that case, however, rules of the naming contest stipulated that to avoid politicking, the bridge could not be named after any person.

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