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No name change for Greenfield Bridge, Pittsburgh commission says

| Monday, April 3, 2017, 5:39 p.m.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The Greenfield Bridge over the Parkway East on Monday, April 3, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Construction crews work to assemble sections of the Greenfield Bridge on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016.

Pittsburgh's Commission on Naming Public Properties on Monday shot down a proposal to rename the Greenfield Bridge after late artist John Kane, but a Kane supporter said he would find another way to memorialize the man who remains largely unknown in his hometown.

Pittsburgh City Council still can weigh in and vote for the renaming. Council has 60 days to act on the commission's unanimous decision not to recommend the name change. Members never have overturned a decision by the commission, according to Ray Gastil, who heads the Pittsburgh Planning Commission. If council fails to act within 60 days, the commission's decision stands.

“They chose not to honor him with this bridge, but he also lived in the Strip District, he lived in Bloomfield, he lived in Oakland, and he lived in Soho,” said Pat McArdle of Edgewood, who organized support for the change. “He will be honored.”

About 30 people attended a naming commission meeting to argue for and against the renaming.

The span officially is named the Beechwood Boulevard Bridge, but it's known as the Greenfield Bridge, and neighborhood residents said they want the name to stand.

“It's our identity. It's where we live,” said Louie Sciulli, a lifelong Greenfield resident and owner of a neighborhood hair salon. “When you cross the Highland Park Bridge, you're going into Highland Park. When you cross the Bloomfield Bridge, you're going into Bloomfield. I have not talked to anyone who is in favor of this.”

Supporters of the renaming argued that it would enlighten Pittsburgh youth about the importance of John Kane, who died in 1934.

A Scottish immigrant, Kane was an impoverished laborer and house painter who suffered from alcoholism and depression. He was a self-taught artist who achieved fame late in life when he won a spot at the Carnegie Institute's 1927 International Exhibition of Paintings, now the Carnegie International. The exhibition attracts worldwide interest and some of the most prominent artists of the day.

Kane, who mixed realism and abstract, painted scenes of Pittsburgh and the Monongahela Valley. Kane works are displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City and locally in the Carnegie Museum of Art and Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

McArdle said Kane deserves the honor.

“There is nothing in this city that is named for a working man,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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