Belt’s Top Stories of 2020

2021-01-29T11:22:57-05:00December 28, 2020|

Eleven pieces our readers kept coming back to.

As we close out 2020 here at Belt Magazine, we decided to take a look back at the stories we published this year and re-share some of those that resonated most with our readers—the pieces you read, shared, and emailed us about most often. (We stuck with individual stories, though some of our collections were enormously popular as well.) Every story connects with someone, somewhere, but the ones below came up again and again as we look back over the year. We hope you enjoy revisiting them as 2020 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. III, a new print anthology collecting twenty-five 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.)

From all of us at Belt Magazine: thank you for reading, sharing, and supporting Belt’s work in 2020. There’s so much more where these stories came from, and we’re looking forward to continuing this work alongside you in 2021.

-Ryan Schnurr, editor

Sissac - Election Day

By Njaimeh Njie, Da’Shaunae Marisa, Nyia Sissac, Rachel Elise Thomas, and Yasmin Yassin

Snapshots from five photographers across the Rust Belt. Read More.


Portsmouth plant 1970s

By Kevin Williams

The plant was erected in Pike County, Ohio during the cold war to enrich uranium. Then people started getting sick. Now, they’re stuck cleaning up the mess. Read More.


Mary Lane - Blues

By Katie Prout

The Chicago blues legend has never gotten her due. Read More.


Ohio - Confederacy

By Eric Michael Rhodes

In June, Ohio legislators refused to ban confederate memorabilia from county fairs. The state has long had a complicated (and racist) relationship with the confederacy. Read More.


Kenosha Protests - 5

By Martha Bayne and Grace Del Vecchio

What happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin the night Jacob Blake was shot, according to four people who were there. Read More.


Midland Michigan Flood 5

By Anna Clark

In May, the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams near Midland—resulting from negligence and ineffective regulation—threatened to wash away more than just buildings. Read More.


Bob Ross 2

By Ashley Stimpson

With “The Bob Ross Experience,” Muncie, Indiana lays claim to its most famous artist—and its status as an art town. Read More.


Bus at night

By Catherine Jagoe

In Wisconsin, the Van Galder is a rite of passage for budget travelers of all stripes. Read More.


John Prine

By Avery Gregurich

“If you listen long enough, you’ll find your own Prine line, the one that makes you feel real lonesome and want to laugh, all at once.” Read More.


East Chicago City Hall

By Emiliano Aguilar

Landmarks in Indiana’s Steel City still bear the names of corrupt officials. Read More.


Buffalo Port

By Jeff Z. Klein

The city was once a bustling and infamous Great Lakes port. How should it be remembered? Read More.



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