Top Stories of 2019

2020-01-13T12:18:42-05:00December 27, 2019|

Ten stories our readers kept coming back to.

The past year was a great one for stories at Belt Magazine. In 2019, we published nearly a hundred and fifty pieces by regional writers on issues that matter to the Rust Belt and greater Midwest. The following stories are those that seemed to resonate most with our readers this year—some of them were read and shared most often; others elicited the most appreciative emails from readers. We’re proud of every single one of them, and we hope you enjoy revisiting them as the year winds down.

We couldn’t have done any of this work without the support of 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; Indiana Humanities; and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. Many of the stories listed here are also collected in Dispatches from the Rust Belt Vol. II, a new print anthology collecting twenty-five of the best features, essays, poems and commentary we published this year. (The anthology is available exclusively to Belt members; get your copy by joining Belt today!)

Thanks for being part of Belt’s story in 2019 by reading, sharing, and supporting our work. We’re glad you’re with us.

-Ryan Schnurr, editor

Cuyahoga 1980

By Rebekkah Rubin

The events of June 1969 have come to define both Cleveland and the river. Some Clevelanders have a different story. Read More.


DeGrane - UIC Street Team - Opioids

By Mari Cohen

Why some people living with opioid use disorder on the streets of Chicago avoid going to the hospital. Read More.


THX0477 - Oregon District, Dayton

By Paula D. Ashe

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, an elegy for a wounded place. Read More.


Downtown Indianapolis, 1975

By Nicole Poletika

How Unigov, a 1970s-era legislative project, helped create modern-day Indy and its suburbs. Read More.


Willen - Pittsburgh

By William A. Eisenstein

“For all the intervening years, Pittsburgh had lived in my memory…viewable but not touchable, sequestered behind a one-way mirror of time.” Read More.


Gregurich - Mississippi 3

By Avery Gregurich

Decades beyond its intended lifespan, the river’s shipping infrastructure faces an uncertain future. Read More.


By Pat Nabong

Photos from the reclamation of Native space in the city. Read More.


Dunlevy - WOXY Sticker

By Robin James

A Memorial Day tradition that chronicled the music of an era. Read More.


Ford - Childhood + Mercury Cougar

By Tanisha C. Ford

Learning the racial geography of Indiana as a young Black girl in the 1980s. Read More.


Wilson - R.E. Berger Plant

By Sharon Kelly

What the petrochemical buildout along the Ohio River means for communities in the region and beyond. 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.