City red-faced after naming Brooklyn Bridge’s paint after hated Queens

Night trip to Manhattan? Don’t take the Brooklyn Bridge
Courtesy of the Carbon County Museum

The city has put the brakes on a plan to paint the Brooklyn Bridge a color named after the borough of Queens — and you can thank us!

Last week, we noticed that the Department of Transportation planned to give the historic span a fresh coat of “Queensborough Tan,” a particularly odd name that both galled and puzzled bridge aficionados, considering the iconic span predates the borough of Queens by 14 years.

But on Friday, the egregious, borough-offending mistake was officially corrected.

“The incorrect name [was] the result of a clerical error [and] has been updated,” the agency stated.

The official color of the bridge will be “Brooklyn Bridge Tan.”

But the agency might still find itself red-faced — despite the fix.

Yes, the agency’s Web site now reads that the bridge will be “restored to its original Brooklyn Bridge Tan.” But accounts detailing the bridge’s color say that the original hue was, in fact, “Rawlins Red” — hardly tan at all.

At press time, the agency did not respond to an inquiry about that shading, which was a pigment that contained a mineral, iron oxide, that was unearthed from a mine near Rawlins, Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Almanac.

The new tan color of the bridge was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The agency’s counsel, Mark Silberman, said he was unsure about the original coat, and the origin of the moniker miscue.

“The commission approved ‘Brooklyn Bridge Tan,’” he insisted, even citing the federal specification number for the job, which will be paid for in part with federal stimulus money, and requires the agency’s approval because of its landmark status.

“I’m not sure where ‘Queensborough Tan’ came from,” he added.

What’s in a name? Even that is unclear. When we asked the city to describe the “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” color, a Department of Transportation spokesman said that the city wouldn’t even know the exact specifications for the hue until the manufacturer presents officials with the paint chips.

In other words, no one — not even the officials in the agencies that have approved it — knows exactly what “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” will look like.

The good news, of course, is that the color of the Brooklyn Bridge will no longer be named after Queens, said Borough President Markowitz.

“In Brooklyn, we have better things to do than watch paint dry, but with that said, I naturally believe that our better known and iconic Brooklyn Bridge deserves its own, hip hue. May I suggest ‘Brooklyn Bridge Bronze’ or perhaps ‘Kings County Khaki’?”

Tan-gate will likely be the least of the headaches that arise from the $500-million, four-year rehab of the 126-year-old span. Starting in June, the agency is expecting to close the bridge’s Manhattan-bound lanes during at least 24 weekends and many weeknights, funneling an armada of cars and trucks to the nearest alternative, the Manhattan Bridge.

Before we started asking questions, a city Web site identified the new paint color for the Brooklyn Bridge as “Queensborough Tan.”
Department of Transportation