"The once-thriving Rust Belt city of Braddock, Pennsylvania, saw 90 percent of its population leave town as its steel industry collapsed. " (emphasis added).Let's consider when was the "once"? The continuing mythos of Braddock has that history really really off. Braddock has indeed seen a roughly 90 % population decline, from over 20K in to likely (my guess) between 1,500 and 2,000 today. But in no way did the collapse of the steel industry define the timing of that decline. In fact Braddock today is the home of one of the key pieces of the steel industry that the region has retained, the Edgar Thompson Plant. What is always overlooked is that steelworkers were fleeing Braddock long long before the jobs left. I put a time series of Braddock's population in a post last fall and it's real clear that the vast majority of Braddock's population decline happened long before 1980. So even when the steel jobs were there, Braddock had already lost its appeal as a place to live. To find the past "thriving" you probably need to go back at least 50 years at this point, maybe 60. Makes me wonder.. will we be talking about Braddock's demise and the impact of steel a century after its peak population. Probably.
I'm not sure where the Braddock neo-mythos is coming from, but I have ranted on how little it has meant to Braddock in reality today. Misunderstanding the timing of Braddock's decline has confused the issues surrounding what to do to help the residents of Braddock today, few and fewer of which have any connection to the steel industry of the region.