By Ed Simon 

This year, Belt Magazine has ranged over quite a lot of topics – the corner stores of Akron to the paper mills of Green Bay, the rest stops of Breezewood to the ancient burial mounds of Ohio. Every December we tabulate what our most read stories of the year are and present to you the top ten, a portrait of what interests the readers of the Rust Belt. These are the essays and features that that we receive emails about (pleased, not pleased, and everywhere in between), that we get engagement on social media about, that our friends and family bring up to us in conversation.

All of this is, of course, only made possible through the generous support and contributions of our subscribers and partners. These stories are funded by you, the subscribers, with matching grants from NewsMatch; as well as financial support from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses; the Ohio Arts Council; Ohio Humanities; the Indiana Humanities Council; the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, and the generous contributions of Sean Decatur and James Babcock. Many of these pieces, and more, can be found in our annual anthology Dispatches from the Rust Belt Vol. V, featuring essays and commentary from the past year at the magazine. The anthology will be available in our online shop next month for $20, but new subscribers at the $10 a month level will receive a copy, and any current subscribers who donate $10 before the end of today will also receive a copy.

Thank you so much for your reading, your engagement, your support. This coming year is our tenth anniversary, and there are some big announcements that will be coming out in the following months. We’ve also got some incredible stories that are going to be published soon, from a history of the Midwestern glass industry to the ways in which fair trade apiaries are redefining agriculture, an account of the notorious “Hobo King” of St. Louis and of Ohio’s radical punk rock collectives. No doubt we’ll be talking about a lot of these pieces in the year ahead,

Ed Simon, Editor

Breezewood, Pennsylvania: The Most American Place on Earth

By Ed Simon 


Chicago Was Almost a Country Town

By Jonathan Dale 


Ukrainian Pittsburgh in Five Acts

By Ed Simon 


Corner Stores of Akron

By Chris Harvey 



An Auto Plant Becomes a State Park

By Allison Torres Burtka 




Are West Chicago’s Radiation Worries Over?

By Liuan Huska 



Reconsidering Public Housing in America

By Anjulie Rao 



The End of Green Bay’s Oldest Operating Paper Mill–and Its Union

By John McCracken 



The Death and Life of the Great Black Swamp

By Ashley Stimpson 



Great Circle Earthworks (Newark, Oh.)

By Daniel Wolff

Feature Image Credit – Thank you to our Creative Director Chris Harvey, as well as to Jess Fijalkovich, for providing and designing the banner image.