The Heartland: Life and Loss in Ohio’s Steel City

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ORAIN, Ohio — There’s life in this dying city. It’s on the hunt for a job when the sun breaks and at the end of the bar for some liquid therapy in the afternoon. It’s at the free food pantry in the evening and stumbling into the arms of a hungry family at night.

There’s life in this dying city. It’s fighting to keep the lights on when the hours and checks from the steel mills stopped coming. It’s praying for safety when firefighters were laid off after the city’s budget gap became a canyon.

There’s life in this dying city, but it’s hanging by a thread that’s getting thinner by the day.“I’ve seen it go up and down,” said Suzie Hartman, a bartender at the Crystal Rock Inn as she was serving up brown liquor and cold American beer on a recent afternoon. “But I haven’t seen this right here in a long time.”

This right here — the recent shutdown and idling of two steel mills, more than a thousand laid-off workers and a devastating economic ripple — is the troubling milieu to which this onetime hub of industry is slowly coming undone. Lorain, a city of more than 60,000 people about 30 miles west of Cleveland, has seen its share of economic decline and loss of industry over the decades.  Read more.

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