My wife, Judy Barron, and I recently moved back to the Youngstown, Ohio, area to our family home. We both were born in Youngstown at a time when it was the fifth largest steel-producing city in the country. Aside from the overwhelming pollution and a river that never froze, it was a pretty nice place to live.
By the 1970s, steel made in Youngstown was no longer competitive and one by one the mills began to close. Bumper stickers began to appear on cars: "Will the last person to leave Youngstown please turn out the lights."
These photos were taken about a year ago. Youngstown is still trying to recover, but with commercial sites like this to deal with plus bank abandonment of their foreclosed houses, it's pretty daunting.
And, just as definite signs of hope for the city are appearing, a fracking injection well near downtown caused 12 earthquakes in a single year. The owner of the well has been indicted by the Federal Government (it turns out that for 40 years he's been dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic waste into the waterways!) and in spite of the disasters caused by fracking, the local government has voted to seek contracts from the gas and oil industry to lease city-owned land for more fracking wells. This could be the final nail in Youngstown's coffin.
© Ron Barron