Judy Lynch: Irish History Embedded in Viaduct

Erie’s first Irish mayor, Charlie Raycroft Barber, supported the 20-years-long effort by a priest from St. Ann Church to create a bridge over the railroad tracks at East Ave. The McBride Viaduct was dedicated in 1938, two years after Barber was elected.

Erie’s first Irish mayor, Charlie Raycroft Barber, supported the 20-years-long effort by a priest from St. Ann Church to create a bridge over the railroad tracks at East Ave. The McBride Viaduct was dedicated in 1938, two years after Barber was elected.

Former Erie County Executive, historian Judy Lynch, outlines the rich history that Swank Construction will obliterate if they demolish the McBride Viaduct (East Ave. Bridge) as has been directed by PennDOT, the Public Utilities Commission and the City of Erie

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The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Paradise Baxter to dismiss the McBride Viaduct suit has condemned one more of Erie’s historical structures to the ash heap. Let us salute those who struggled for more than 20 years to see it built.

Father Raycroft, a Catholic priest descended from Irish immigrants, was commissioned to build a church on East Avenue to meet the needs of Irish immigrants on Erie’s east side. St. Ann Church was consecrated in 1905. Father Raycroft died and was replaced by Father Lawrence McBride in 1919.

Father McBride, later Monsignor McBride, was aghast at the struggles of east-siders who daily walked or drove over the railroad tracks. He created an internal Guard of Honor and through this organization and annual communion breakfasts began to push for a bridge over the railroad tracks to connect East Avenue with its southern neighbors. In November 1929, when four upper east-siders were killed on the railroad tracks, the fight for safe passage intensified. In October of 1929, the Great Depression rocked the country but resulted in federal and state funds for infrastructure.

Monsignor McBride knew that the time was ripe and intensified his political activity to help to elect Charlie Barber, Erie’s first Irish mayor, in 1936. It was Erie County Commissioner Thomas Flatley, again of Irish immigrant ancestry, who ranked the construction of the viaduct as Erie County’s No. 1 priority. The viaduct was dedicated in December 1938 and Monsignor McBride was lauded for his 20-year fight to increase the safety and connectivity of the east side.

Now the city will tear down the McBride Viaduct, obliterating a historical marker and much of its Irish history. Will the demolition create the imperative of another 20-year struggle to address the need for greater safety and connectivity of the East Avenue neighborhood?

— Judy Lynch, Millcreek

PUBLISHED: Letters to the Editor, Erie Times-News, Sunday, November 11, 2018

Inspiration for Erie: Transformation of Philly Viaduct

Matt Rouke (Associated Press) documents the first 1/4 mile phase of the planned 3 mile-long Rail Park on the Philadelphia Reading Viaduct.

Matt Rouke (Associated Press) documents the first 1/4 mile phase of the planned 3 mile-long Rail Park on the Philadelphia Reading Viaduct.

Writing in the Washington Post, Scott Pruden documents Philadelphia’s visionary adaptive reuse of an existing asset - the Reading Viaduct - to create a new Rail Park.

Will Erie, PA’s elected leaders understand the amazing potential of the McBride Viaduct / East Ave. Bridge before it is too late? Why is the status quo - including the local paper - dismissing advice from national experts who have explained the Viaduct’s crucial role as a pedestrian and bike artery - and they way it can help transform the city’s struggling Eastside?

Isn’t it time for Erie to listen to national experts like Charles Buki, Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Toni Griffin, Philip Langdon, Charles McKinney, John Norquist , Terry Schwartz and local leaders including Rev. Dr. Charles Mock and Abdulla Washington and rethink the shortsighted demolition plan?

Sunset Supper: Cold Weather / Warm Community Gathers to meet APAPA

ErieCPR VP John Henderson, ErieCPR Community Outreach Cynthia Muhammad, and ErieCPR Past VP Beary Clark speak to YourErie reporter Tiarra Braddock as tonights Sunset Supper begins.

ErieCPR VP John Henderson, ErieCPR Community Outreach Cynthia Muhammad, and ErieCPR Past VP Beary Clark speak to YourErie reporter Tiarra Braddock as tonights Sunset Supper begins.

A dedicated group of Viaduct supporters set up tables, chairs and tents tonight. They brought a mike and battery operated amp, banners, flyers and played a loop of Viaduct testimonials taped on the bridge. With amazing food from CHEF LISA, coffee from TIM HORTONS, a new chapbook edited by CEE WILLIAMS, spoken word poetry by BIGG WASH, music by JULIE VON VOLKENBURG, animation by RON BLEVINS, prayers, commentary and singing - the event was a resounding success. We toasted the absent APAPA members and hope they are inspired to pay their own visit to the #ErieViaduct ASAP.

APAPA & the Erie Community are invited to a SUNSET SUPPER

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Members of ErieCPR have organized a SUNSET SUPPER on the Erie Viaduct to welcome American Planning Association, PA chapter members to the city’s most important - and most threatened - pedestrian and bike artery.

Catered by CHEF LISA, the varied pick-up entrees will satisfy carnivores, vegetarians and gluten-free folks. ABDULLAH WASHINGTON will perform spoken word art. SAINT STEPHEN will offer music and CEE WILLIAMS will share the latest chapbook from POET’S HALL PRESS. Please bring folding chairs, an umbrella and a flashlight!

ErieCPR spokesperson Micheal Keys distributes invitations to APAPA members as they walk to the APAPA reception at the Maritime Museum.

ErieCPR spokesperson Micheal Keys distributes invitations to APAPA members as they walk to the APAPA reception at the Maritime Museum.

Federal Court Postpones Hearings about Erie Viaduct

In a sudden, 11th hour decision, the Erie Federal Court has decided to postpone the Viaduct Public Hearing until additional filings are completed. Once the new hearing dates are determined by the Court, we will announce them via email, Facebook, www.ErieViaduct.com, etc.

All ErieCPR members are urged to attend the regular MEETING this Sunday afternoon. (Contact an officer for the location.) Meanwhile ALL SUPPORTERS are invited to attend the free SUNSET SUPPER ON THE BRIDGE on Monday, October 15 at 6:00pm near the Viaduct's north entrance at 1201 East Ave. CHEF LISA will be serving dinner. ABDULLA WASHINGTON will perform. CEE WILLIAMS will have copies of the latest POET'S HALL PRESS chapbook: a compilation of Haikus about the #ErieViaduct. IF YOU CAN bring a few folding chairs and / or COOKIES to share.