In Erie, One City Block Is a Trek of Disrespect

Despite the “Road Closed” barriers blocking cars and trucks, Elizabeth Feliciano trudged the other morning on foot across the McBride Viaduct, late for school. Arching over a gritty scrap-metal yard and railway line, the graffiti-scrawled 1,170-foot-long bridge links two of this city’s poorest neighborhoods.

When the viaduct opened in the late 1930s, the city was growing. The bridge, renovated in the 1970s, was an emblem of local pride and progress. It funneled traffic through what were at the time thriving neighborhoods.

Then the factories started disappearing. The viaduct’s largely German, Polish and Irish district became home to increasing numbers of blacks, Latinos and refugees from Africa and the Middle East, whose arrivals have slowed the city’s population decline.

On one level,…

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