Finally, George C. Platt is becoming a household name.
New maps are touting his name. Ask someone directions to the airport, and you will probably hear the famous patriot's name invoked.
And now, bas-relief of that Irish gentleman have been erected next to the span of the same name - the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge, formerly the Penrose Avenue Bridge.
For Larry Griffin, Platt's great-great-grandson, who led the crusade to immortalize his relative and to rename the bridge, the battle is finally over.
After two years of waiting for bridge reconstruction to end, the sculptures were mounted last Monday on roadside poles at both ends of the bridge for motorists traveling both east and west on Penrose Avenue across the Schuylkill. That was all that remained of the descendant's cause.
Griffin, 35, a former editorial aide at the Bulletin, had asked the city and state to rename the bridge back in 1978.
"Everybody thought it was a half-witted idea, and (it) wasn't getting much support at all, so I used my own money and support to get it enacted," he said.
"It was a long, drawn-out procedure, but it finally became law" in 1979, he said.
For years, Griffin had researched his great-great-grandfather, who was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1842, and died in Philadelphia in 1912. Platt was awarded the Medal of Honor on July 3, 1863, for his actions in the Battle of Gettysburg, where, as a flag carrier for his regiment, he killed a Confederate soldier trying to wrest away the standard.
He had lived at 2644 Ellsworth St. and was one of 10 contractors who built a bridge across the Schuylkill in 1878 that once stood not far from the bridge that is named for him.
He had nine children of his own, Griffin said, but Platt also took in children off the street in South Phildelphia.
His likeness is now cast on two stainless-steel panels, which were sculpted by Reginald E. Beauchamp, head of the community relations department of the Bulletin until his retirement in 1976. Beauchamp, who has created many works on display throughout Philadelphia, told Griffin that he would create the outdoor sculptures if Griffin were successful in changing the name of the bridge.
"The state wanted to know if I would come up with a plaque for the bridge, but I didn't have the money," Griffin said. He asked Gulf Oil Co. for a plaque and he received $2,000 for the casting of the two pieces.
Since they were first unveiled two years ago, the eight-foot-long sculptures have been on display in the lobby of the Quality Inn Airport on Penrose Avenue, waiting for the re-decking of the bridge to be completed. The bridge reopened in December.
"I'm very pleased with the way things have turned out," said Griffin, who lives in Collingdale and works as a stationmaster as SEPTA's Clifton Heights train station.