You’d think the very purpose of a commemorative plaque is to be noticed and read. But lately I’ve discovered many nearby markers posted in public places that are difficult, if not impossible to see. What good does it do to hang a plaque in remembrance of a person or event if it is unreadable?
For decades I have crossed the Bulkeley Bridge which carries Interstate 84 over the Connecticut River at Hartford, Connecticut. Its nine granite arches spanning almost 1,200 feet made it the largest stone arch bridge in the world when completed in 1908. It’s a dignified and sturdy structure, palpable evidence of civic pride. In an alcove at the center of the north parapet is a large bronze plaque aged with a soft verdigris patina. It contains a bas relief of a man in profile with words below it. In the slower paced world of the early twentieth century, I’m sure the plaque was an ornament widely admired. But today traffic whizzes by at over sixty miles per hour. With no pedestrian access to the site, it can only be read from a car completely stopped in rush hour traffic in the right exit lane.