Belt’s Top Stories of 2021

2022-02-08T10:29:55-05:00December 27, 2021|

Ten pieces our readers kept coming back to.

Every year, at the end of the year, we take a look back at the stories we published and revisit the ones that resonated most with our readers—the pieces you read, shared, and emailed us about most often. We hope you enjoy revisiting them as 2021 winds down.

None of this would be possible by our members and partners. The stories on this list were funded by readers like you, with additional support from NewsMatch; the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses; the Ohio Arts Council; Ohio Humanities; and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. Find more of our best Rust Belt writing in Dispatches from the Rust Belt Vol. IV, a new print anthology collecting  features, essays, poems, photo essays, and commentary from the past year at the magazine. (The anthology is available exclusively to Belt members; get your copy by joining Belt today).

Thank you for reading, sharing, and supporting our work in 2021. We truly couldn’t do it without you, and we’re looking forward to what we’ll do together in the year to come.

-Ryan Schnurr, editor

Goodyear - Akron

By Yanick Rice Lamb

Our most popular story of the year, on the complicated relationships between people and industry. Read More.


Shook - Chicago Avenue, East Chicago

By Emiliano Aguilar

In the 1920s, East Chicago planned its ideal future. Here’s how that went. Read More.


Kelly - Union Grill

By Ed Simon

It’s technically an open-faced sandwich, but that’s like calling the Empire State Building an office park. Read More.


Modernist Post Office

By Josh Lipnik

Photos of iconic design across the state. Read More.


Todd - Mackinaw Bridge

By Bob Zeni

On memorable road trips more than half a century apart. Read More.


Amtrak Fort Wayne

By Ryan Schnurr

A proposed passenger rail line could reconnect the region–from Chicago to Fort Wayne to Columbus to Pittsburgh. Read More.


Hotel Matthews monument

By Yanick Rice Lamb

The life and death of a Black main street. Read More.


Njie - Hudson, Ohio Collage

By Rebekkah Rubin

An event in the summer of 2021 revealed the messiness of the town’s white-dominated abolitionist narrative. Read More.


Dale - Josh Lipnik

By Jonathan Dale

Documenting regional architecture and design–on Twitter. Read More.


By Natalie Tomlin

On the shores of Lakes Michigan and Huron, climate change, and the stakes of inaction. Read More.



Belt Magazine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To support more independent writing and journalism made by and for the Rust Belt and greater Midwest, make a donation to Belt Magazine, or become a member starting at $5 per month.