06 October 2010

Post Cards from the Rust Belt

A favorite modern-day post card, with a map highlighting the areas in a red as the iron oxide which gave its name to the region. 

I was rummaging through my collection of vintage Midwestern post cards recently, and I realized that I had unwittingly assembled a sub-collection of cards depicting the glorious heyday of the now-derelict industrial cities of the what city planners now call the "Rust Belt."

These include, but by are no means limited to, those erstwhile powerhouses of manufacturing -- Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburg(h), Pennsylvania; and smaller yet important bastions of industry -- Youngstown, Oh.; Gary, Indiana; Siberacuse, N.Y.; Dayton, Oh.; Bethlehem, Penn.; Ironwood, Mich.; and Flint, Mich.  

What sublime expressions of America's economic achievement these towns once were! Yet now, many have fallen into disrepaired, commercially-farmed shadows of their former selves.  But the images on these cards can remind us of better days, while cautioning us that some subjects just look stupid on post cards.

I have, on display below, the majority of my sub-collection, which I generously have donated to Wikimedia Commons. I hope you, dear readers, enjoy this sooty yet nostalgic tour of the salad days of the twentieth century.

A "General View" of the Republic Iron and Steel Works factory. Closed since 1977!

Ohio Works, Carnegie Steel Works.  Closed since 1984!

Youngstown skyline, c. 1910.  Closed since 1996!

Pittsburgh, c. 1900. Exposition Park III, home of the "Pittsburgh Burghers" in 1890 and the more resilient "Pittsburg Pirates Baseball Club" thereafter, is on the bottom right.

Coal Breaking Factory, Pennsylvania, 1907.  Affectionately nicknamed "The Breaker" by its happy employees.  

Moderately high bridge! Only the really tall down!  
The Delaware and Lehigh Canal, Bethlehem, Penn., 1907.

Franklin Auto Works, Syracuse, N.Y., 1910. Closed since 1934!

Toledo O.'s famous Willys Auto Factory, c. 1915.  
Kind of still in business (if Chrysler counts as still in business)!

Moyer Auto Factory, Syracuse, c. 1910.  Defunct since 1914!  : (

W.A. Wood Mowing and Reaping Machine Factory, Hoosick Falls, N.Y., 1907. Ran out of business by John Deere in 1924!

Gary, Indiana, railroad depot, c. 1910.  Chicago's ugly Hoosier cousin since 1958!

Detroit, c. 1900. Recent years have seen a return in horse and buggy traffic to the city's streets.  

All the way from the U.P., iron mine in Ironwood, Mich., c. 1900.  The town is now known best for the "World's Tallest Indian," which is built entirely out of coal slag!

Ironwood mine, c. 1900

Well, that's it, Cabinet Cranks!  I'll see you next time.

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