By A.M. Bilancini

 

A photo tour of beautifully repurposed Pittsburgh churches:

“Like most American Rust Belt towns settled by European immigrant laborers, Pittsburgh in the early 20th century was a deeply religious place, where ornate Romanesque and Gothic chapels, churches and cathedrals rose in nearly every corner of the city. But partly as a result of the steel industry’s collapse, Pittsburgh’s population (now just over 300,000) has been in decline for decades, and congregations have been abandoning their grand old churches in search of smaller, more affordable spaces. Along the way, some of the Steel City’s savviest entrepreneurs have been purchasing many of Pittsburgh’s disused churches and adapting them into clubs, restaurants, theaters and concert venues.”

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Ouch. http://gobacktoohio.com/

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Wooing homesick expats with the goodwill money (and the smart money?) in Detroit:

“Built like a fireplug, Gilbert speaks in rapid bursts of big words and ideas, and with a confidence that is as infectious as it is rehearsed. In five years, he says, downtown Detroit and Midtown—an emerging neighborhood of hipsters and young entrepreneurs—will be knitted together by a new hockey arena/business district. Thousands of abandoned houses and other blight will be erased from every city neighborhood. In half a decade, he says, “smart investors” will have built the first new neighborhoods, developing cheap land in exchange for promises to build police stations, schools, and parks. Smart investors, Gilbert declares, like the ‘Detroit Homecoming’ expats.

‘There’s no silver bullet here,’ he says. ‘It’s not going to be one family or one group. It’s got to be wide. It’s got to be deep.'”

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Speaking of silver bullets and Detroit…

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A heartbreaking story that starts in Lorain, Ohio — the life and death of Jason Molina:

“[Jason] was large and multitudinous: commensurately inspiring and frustrating, goofy and gloomy, spontaneous and studied, generous and self-absorbed, loyal and flaky, wise and naive, trusting and paranoid, outgoing and reserved, honest and totally full of shit, and every blessed and profane thing in between,” his former bandmate, Max Winter, wrote after his death. “And it’s all there in his music.”

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A neat little map of the 1903 levels and origin of immigration by state. Zoom in!