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GES183 - Brownsville, PA, USA

The American economy thrives on the mobility of it's population, following jobs as one area enters decline, and another propers. As such, a number of ghost towns have been thrown up. Here is just one.

Settled in 1775, it was put on the map in 1839, with the completion of the first cast iron bridge, still in use today. The town was a prominent builder of flatboats, and later in the 19th Century it moved on to steamboat building.  In the mid 19th Century, Br0wnsville was doing better than it's northern neighbour Pittsburgh, but the railways arrived, and Pittsburgh was on the mainline, Br0wnsville wasn't. Due to a spur line, it was still able to earn income from the railways, and was became a coking centre. The Steel boom also helped the town along with the rest of the 'Rust Belt.' In 1940, the town had a population of 8,000, however, in the 1970s, the Rust Belt was hit hard, and the area went into decline. By 2000, the population had dropped to 3,000. Despite various campaigns, the town hasn't recovered. As a result it sits with many empty properties. It has a population increase of -7%, a cost of living of 20% below the US average, and a job decrease of 0.6%. On the plus side, it has a falling crime rate, with 3 rapes, 1 arson and 0 murders in the last 10 years.

One town's loss, is an explorer's gain. A mural on a vacated building in the centre of town.

I walked through the town and up a hill to find a woman cleaning a cobbled street on it, near an occupied home. However around the corner were a number of properties that were boarded up, suffering water damage, and abandoned. Most had contents left behind strewn about. I didn't bother entering this property, but it was easy to do.

I did enter another property across the way, and after squeezing through a collapsed floor, found a room full of kids toys. I also found this note on the door, bit late after I'd entered the property. In America, trespass is considered a criminal act.

This is Market St, the main thoroughfare of the town. As you can see, all the buildings are boarded up, all the way down the hill. The church is just poking out of the trees on the left.

The first baptist church, sat abandoned on the hill into the centre of town.

As can be seen on the far left, access wasn't difficult, however I didn't find that out until i'd squeezed over the top of a door on the other side. D'oh! The church was largely in tact with little sign of vandalism.

The piano was locally made, however a little out of tune.

Further down were these two banks, separated by a hotel.

Once upon a time, the town was a bustling place.

 

Inside the 2nd National Bank, there was little left behind. A safe on the wall, and some desks. The entire back wall of the upper floors was missing, and one could look down to overgrown vegetation below.

This is the main entrance to the bank from the street.

Mixed fortunes, in the Monongahela Hotel, it had also been visited by taggers. One of the few buildings I found that had.

The vacant upper floors of the hotel reminded me of the computer game, Max Payne.

No flat screen plasmas here, nothing wrong with a bit of mindless vandalism!

The lower bank on the hill, more intact inside.

The wrought iron fire escape on the back of the bank building seen above.

Inside the bank, the main cashier hall. There were various catering items here, not sure where they came from.

The main vault, with the main door open, and the internal door locked. However the side door entrance (through the door just visible on the right) was open. Sadly no bags of loot lying around.

The centre of the high street, all the shops boarded up. A mural painted on the shop front boarding, to 'try' to cheer the dismal state of affairs up. Most of the stores were like the houses visited earlier, water damaged with any contents strewn about.

A rather perky store on Water Street, where again most of the buildings were abandoned.

Underneath the famous bridge of Br0wnsville, a mural offering hope to the town. However it never came, and unsurprisingly, the website no longer exists. One thing the USA isn't short of, is optimism.

As far as ghost towns go, it was kind of what I expected, a depressing air to the place, and feeling of wanting to leave. It was odd, because if one goes up the hill on the other side of town, past more empty terraced homes, one comes to a housing area that seemed fully occupied. The town above Brownsville was also occupied. I'd liked to have spent more time here exploring, but sadly had to head off to Pittsburgh to pick up GE074, and head north to Niagara Falls.