Fragments of Youngstown 2012
Once the symbol of a robust steel industry and blue-collar economy, Youngstown, Ohio, has become a key icon in the tragic tale of American deindustrialization.
The city has lost 60 percent of its population since 1960, and many of those remaining struggle to survive in a city where few blue-collar jobs are left and where abandoned houses leave plenty of space for drug dealers while also offering shelter for the homeless. In 2011 it was named the poorest of Americas 100 largest cities, and Youngstown is still waiting for the shale gas adventure to turn decades of decay into a new golden era.
It seems like no coincidence that it was in Youngstown that vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan visited a soup kitchen hours after the poor and the homeless had left the place - only to use it for a photo opportunity.
But it also a city that displays American middle-class life with its obsession with football and filled benches in most churches on Sundays. And a city where years of racial divide is slowly changing into a more natural sense of diversity that can be seen in much larger cities on any given Saturday night.