Sunday, February 22, 2009

abandoned towns

Now that the economy is in a bit of a free fall (or so it seems), I've noticed an increased number in articles about abandoned towns, cities, and neighborhoods.

In the February 1 issue of The New York Times, there was an article about Braddock, Pennsylvania, a "distressed municipality." Braddock is a former steel factory town.
"Everyone in the country is asking 'Where's the bottom?'" said the mayor, John Fetterman. "I think we've found it."

Braddock's mayor is working to rebuild Braddock, publicizing it as a place to buy inexpensive real estate and build urban farms. He is also personally working to save a handful of buildings.

After reading the article and looking at Braddock's Wikipedia entry, a few factoids stuck out:

The first free library built by Andrew Carnegie was built in Braddock in 1887.

In 1936, the first A & P supermarket opened in Braddock.

Lauren Tewes, the actress who played Cruise Director Julie McCoy on The Love Boat tv series, was born in Braddock. (I loved The Love Boat as a child.)

Braddock will have another moment in the sun when the feature film The Road opens up later this year. (note: The Road was postponed from its November 2008 release after the U.S. financial markets melted, as "they" felt that the public didn't want to see an apocalyptic movie.)

"If struggling communities don't preserve their architecture," Mr. Fetterman said, "there's no chance of any resurgence down the line." Sometime soon, he worries, Braddock will pass the point of no return.

This article makes me want to watch the movie and then visit Braddock and look for locales seen in the film. Perhaps an urban explorer tour guide wants to make some extra money giving tours? I bet the mayor would work with you to set up safe UE tours of Braddock.

Mayor Fetterman's website is at .
(It's a pet peeve of mine that The Times' "policy" rarely allows for disclosure of websites it cites.)

Here's the Times article and a Pittsburgh City Paper article from 2006.

Image taken from the "Ruins" section of the official Braddock website.