One of my favorite Pittsburgh suburbs, Clairton, lies half an hour south of downtown. Called the City of Prayer, it was so named for little protest signs posted around the city limits dissenting the Supreme Court’s 1963 ban on sponsored school prayer. By 1988, Clairton had been designated a Distressed Municipality by Pennsylvania’s Department of Community Affairs, another casualty of the steel industry’s mid-’70s decline.
More recently, most of its schools were closed and condensed into a single building. Its tiny little downtown strip of vintage, partially vacant storefronts is punctuated by park bench advertisements, randomly placed children’s artwork, and playfully designed retro streetlights. Even some of the businesses that remain open have boarded windows, and can be difficult to distinguish.
I have very much enjoyed every visit, and I look forward to returning.