Braddock mythos redux
Tony Buba, a filmmaker who has been documenting Braddock since 1972, said his 88-year-old mother still makes daily visits to the hospital coffee shop.
"This is really a surprise," Mr. Buba said of the hospital closure. "This could be the most devastating of all the losses."I had my say on the mythos of Braddock last year. I could just repeat that verbatim which included a cite of continued rapid real estate depreciation there. The point was that the popular vision of Braddock rebounding is not really matched by the facts on the ground. If anything things are worse than they were even last year which was worse than most any time in the past. In few cases is the popular perception so incongruous with what we can measure.
I know the New York Times had a slighly more optimistic take early in the year (also check out the NYTimes video on Braddock as well) but how far can we push that vision. This isn't a knock on those living and working there and trying against the tide to improve the situation. Mayor Fetterman is ironically on the cover the The Atlantic's November edition even. What nobody really wants to talk about as we continue to try to 'save' Braddock... is there a Braddock to save at this point. After 2000 I literally calculated that Braddock had a higher year-round property vacancy rate than anywhere else in the state other than Centralia, which was purposely evacuated due to underground mine fires. That has not gotten any better since then. This is the population trend for Braddock which is an image that is bad even by the worst of rust belt standards. The current population estimate of 2,600 or so is probably overestimated as we will learn when the 2010 census is completed.
Another irony is that you would think Braddock epitomized the post-industrial mill town surviving after it's defining 'mill' shut down..Except that it alone among many retains its mill and Braddock's ET plant has been churning away even through the recent recession. Here is what the employment picture looked like in 2000 as well: