The Pulaski Bridge paints a bright, crimson streak across Brooklyn's sky. Constructed in 1954 and given a fresh life in 1994 with a cool $40 million makeover, this drawbridge is more than just a thoroughfare connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens. It carries a unique, vibrant story in its special shade of "Pulaski Red," a hue custom-mixed by the Department of Transportation.
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The story becomes more fascinating when we delve into the history of its namesake, Kasimierz Pulaski. Pulaski, a Polish brigadier and a stalwart ally of George Washington during the American Revolution, ascended to the rank of general after heroically saving Washington's life in a nail-biting battle. It is commonplace for public works or statues to honor war heroes like Pulaski, especially in historically Polish neighborhoods like Greenpoint, or in Illinois, a state with a deep Polish heritage and the unique distinction of celebrating Kasimierz Pulaski Day.
However, the tale of Pulaski took an unexpected turn in 2019. Researchers exhumed his body and found strong evidence suggesting that Pulaski was likely intersex. This revelation added a slice of queer history to an already intriguing narrative, complicating our understanding of the Revolutionary War and adding a new dimension to Pulaski's heroism.
It also broadened Brooklyn's tribute to queer icons of American history. Alongside Marsha P. Johnson Park in neighboring Williamsburg, the Pulaski Bridge not only serves as a crucial artery connecting Brooklyn and Queens but also a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance, standing bold and proud in its striking shade of red.
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