How low can you go?

Apparently, a lot lower than Syracuse

Hunched on the eastern edge of the Monongahela River only a few miles from bustling Pittsburgh, Braddock is a mix of boarded-up storefronts, houses in advanced stages of collapse and vacant lots.

The state has classified it a “distressed municipality” — bankrupt, more or less — since the Reagan administration. The tax base is gone. So are most of the residents. The population, about 18,000 after World War II, has declined to less than 3,000. Many of those who remain are unemployed. Real estate prices fell 50 percent in the last year.

This year, the town will be featured in the film version of another work of art, Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Road.” Set in a post-Armageddon America where food is so scarce that many survivors turned to cannibalism, “The Road” was shot partially in Braddock.

They do, however, have a mayor who has tattooed onto his arm the date of each murder in Braddock that has occurred under his watch. His (mostly symbolic and largely personal) efforts to hold the place together are worth a read (and watch).

I have to laugh at those who look at the wider economic collapse and imagine all kinds of post-apocalyptic scenarios for America. As if that all just started this year.

4 thoughts on “How low can you go?

  1. TourPro

    I guess in this day and age it is hard for us to comprehend how human migrations and settlement evolve. First we must embrace the nomadic ethos – “Never have so much that you can’t move”. I once vowed that I would never have more possessions than could fit into my VW van. Nothing would impede me from a “quick getaway”.

    Once we become tied to a place, emotionally and economically, the notion of moving becomes something to be feared. It’s interesting to see how a place can lose it’s competitive advantage and no longer sustain human habitation and survival. Thank God we don’t have Nunavut in New York or it would be the biggest Empire Zone in the Northeast.

  2. Ellen

    I don’t think there ever was any such thing as a “total nomad,” however. Nomads still tended to stay within historic ranges.

  3. Mrs. Mecomber

    I’m also laughing at those who are “freaking out” about the wider economic collapse as if it just started last year. But post-apocalyptic scenarios? I don’t laugh about these. I think today’s post at Fault Lines blog aptly and truly spells out the doomsday scenario: a global economy run by bureaucrats and government(s). If that isn’t apocalyptic as far as the United States is concerned, I don’t know what is; such could spell the end of our form of government (inalienable rights endowed by our Creator) for the sake of material gain. No thanks.

  4. Ellen

    Mrs M, the Mohawk Valley had that done to it a long time ago when globalization started… why is Fault Lines just getting upset about it NOW?!?

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