Many of these municipalities entered Pennsylvania’s Financially Distressed Municipalities Act 47 program that was created in 1987 to help them regain their financial footing after their tax bases were decimated when the steel industry declined. Several of these towns including Aliquippa, Braddock, Clairton, Duquesne and Rankin have been in the program since its inception and are still struggling to exit Act 47.
These towns — that helped put Pittsburgh on the map and make the city an industrial powerhouse — seem to be left by the wayside and forgotten.
Aliquppa's population peaked at 27,136 in 1930. Its 2017 estimated population is 9,102 -- a drop of 18,304, or 66%.
Source: Proximity One
The dark and vacant windows of the old Crystal Market stare out on once-busy Franklin Avenue, a raw wind tugs at the corners of old posters on other, shuttered storefronts, and dim night lights outline the going-out-of-business signs placarding Vater's Hardware.
But the Police and Fire Departments got their paychecks today, and the street lights and traffic signals were working, reasons enough for good cheer in Aliquippa as Christmas approached. And, though traditional seasonal decorations were missing from the light poles, that seemed a small sacrifice to the cause of survival.Rumours and Little More Thriving in Steel Town. (The New York Times, 2/6/1983)
This old mill town, like so many other industrial towns throughout the land, is heavy with despair. Unemployment stands at about 25 percent. About half the population is dependent on government payments, Social Security, welfare, unemployment compensation, and along six blocks of Franklin Avenue more than 30 stores are closed.
There is widespread talk, all denied by the company, that the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation plans to close its huge mill on the bank of the Ohio River.Struggle to Survive in Town That Steel Forgot. (The New York Times, 4/27/1993)
Molten metal still flows in a handful of buildings on the seven-mile stretch of the Ohio River bank here where a sprawling Jones & Laughlin steel complex once employed as many as 17,000 workers. But if the nation had a hospital for communities, this struggling town 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh would have been sent to intensive care.
The LTV Corporation, which bought Jones & Laughlin in 1968, has only 600 employees here now.Labor days: Former J&L workers recall mill life, aftermath. (Beaver County Times, 8/31/2014)
The red flags were there for employees of Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. in Aliquippa in the 1980s. But many admittedly remained in denial, developing no backup plan until the grim reality hit. Department by department, the 7-mile-long plant along the Ohio River closed. The once-thriving hotbed for jobs that employed more than 14,000 workers in its heyday was no more.
Workers found themselves going through a range of emotions, from sadness to anger to despair. But the end result for those who stayed the course until the bitter end following J&L’s merger with LTV Steel was that they woke up one day with no job.
The disappearing cities:
Baltimore, Maryland. (12/31/2018)
Buffalo, New York, (1/8/2019)
Cairo, Illinois. (1/5/2019)
Cleveland, Ohio (1/2/2018)
Detroit, Michigan. (1/1/2019)
East St. Louis, Illinois. (1/11/2019)
Flint, Michigan. (1/7/2019)
Gary, Indiana. (1/4/2019)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (1/6/2018)
St. Louis, Missouri. (1/2/2019)
Youngstown, Ohio. (1/9/2019)