The Styles Bridges Highway flows through some of the most beautiful country in New England, along peaceful river beds, verdant notches, and dazzling mountain vistas. Tourists probably don’t realize that the road is named for a legendary New Hampshire politician, Senator Styles Bridges, who served from 1937 until his death in 1961. A major power broker in his day, Bridges helped to define the state’s rock-ribbed conservatism. At one time, his sleek profile was as familiar to Granite State voters as the Old Man of the Mountain, past which runs the Styles Bridges Highway.
But the Nov. 12 issue of The New Yorker contained an uncomfortable wake-up call: Alex Ross, the magazine’s classical-music critic, wrote an essay on changing attitudes toward homosexuality that included this passage: “In an episode loosely dramatized in the novel and movie ‘Advise and Consent,’ Senator Lester Hunt, of Wyoming, killed himself after Styles Bridges, a senator from New Hampshire, threatened to expose Hunt’s son as a homosexual. Bridges still has a highway named after him.”