Purple People Bridge offers incredible views

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 18:37:39-05

Seth Walsh and Erin Hinson have been asking people, “What’s your favorite thing to do in Cincinnati?” Whatever the answer is, they do. This is one of their adventures.

In every city there’s at least one gateway. In Cincinnati, we’re lucky to have many. There is something special about walking into Cincinnati, and the Purple People Bridge is the best bridge to do so -- and to #UnlockCincinnati.

Erin: In the past year of our quest to find the greatest adventures in Cincinnati, we have strived to make even the most cliché answers more exciting. For example, when someone says, “Go to the river,” our response was, “Alright, but we’ll take the bridge to get there.” Or we’ll just get lost along the way and find our own adventures (see the Mt. Adams Walking Tour). We believe in getting a holistic perspective.

A relative of Seth’s who had spent time in Cincinnati recommended the Purple People Bridge. They loved it, so of course we had to try it.

Seth: To park in Cincinnati and walk to the Purple People Bridge, you can park in many garages, but we recommend parking under the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center or Great American Ball Park. From there, take Joe Nuxhall Way toward the river to the Ohio River Trail, and follow that through Sawyer Point up to the Purple People Bridge.

Parking will be between $3-$5 if it’s not a game day. We recommend bringing walking shoes, maybe a light jacket and -- whether you’re with your best friend, children, parents or significant other -- a padlock with a key. (You’re going to need it later.)

The other option is to go to Newport on the Levee and walk over to Cincinnati. This is especially helpful during major events, as parking is cheaper and there isn’t the same overflow capacity at the parking garages. Be warned, though: Getting back after the event will be tough!

Erin: The L and N Pedestrian Bridge, renamed for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad bridge in 1904, covers 2,760 feet between Ohio and Kentucky. Originally, it was Cincinnati’s first railroad bridge to cross the Ohio River. In the late 1800s, the bridge opened to automobile, pedestrian and streetcar traffic. It was closed to cars in 2001 and opened as the Purple People Bridge in 2003. Citizens renamed the bridge -- Google Maps just hasn’t accepted it yet!

While you no longer can today, in 2006 and 2007, people could climb along the ladder structure on top of the bridge. (If you have pictures, please share them with us using the hashtag #UnlockCincinnati!)

Today, it’s well known for its great walkability, series of locks and the waterfall Riverfest fireworks that simply can’t be beat!

Seth: For this trip, I snuck a lock and key into my pocket. The Purple People Bridge is littered with padlocks from previous couples who have walked the bridge, so of course I had to partake in the tradition. We reached a spot where the padlocks picked up density: padlocks alone, padlocks attached to another padlock, tiny padlocks attached to a larger padlock.

There we found a bit of wire and locked in our adventure for us to find the next time we go. We kept the key, though, so that some day we can bring the lock home with us. It seems a little counterintuitive for #UnlockCincinnati to lock anything up, but it’s all part of the experience.

One of my favorite parts of walking the Purple People Bridge is the incredible view of Cincinnati. I love the skyline we have here, so of course I’ll do whatever I can to find a great view of it. 

Why go: Being able to say that you walked from one state to another should earn you bragging rights, and for that reason alone, we recommend walking the Purple People Bridge. Also the physical structure of this railroad-turned-pedestrian-bridge, and the padlocks representing love and adventure, help build a sense of community that is unmatched while driving along any highway across the Ohio. It’s a great -- and healthy -- way to experience the Ohio River.

Name: Walk Across the Purple People Bridge
Neighborhood: Newport to Downtown Cincinnati
Address: Over the Ohio River
Price: Free
Parking: Garage at Newport on the Levee
Time commitment: One hour
Pair it with: A Reds game



We invite you to follow this journey in real time online at, on Twitter (@UnlockThe513, @SethTWalsh and @erinhinson2), Instagram (@sethtwalsh and @erinhinson2) and Facebook, or by following #UnlockCincinnati. Or you can email us at

Seth Walsh is passionate about Cincinnati. He spends much of his time working in the community as the executive director of the Sedamsville CDC and project director for the CDC Association. In his spare time, he travels Cincinnati to find the hidden gems he has too often overlooked.
Erin Hinson is a strong believer in local business. She was the youngest participant ever in Xavier University’s X-LAB Business Accelerator Program and has since started her own social media marketing firm. In her spare time, she is an avid gardener and fitness champion.