Two or three times a year we drive for 7 hours to visit my parents in my hometown, Lorain, Ohio. I was born in Lorain and lived there until I graduated from college. I have a lot of fond memories of the place, but it's been a depressed town for decades.
When I'm visiting I'm drawn to buildings that look depressed. I'm not sure why. There are plenty of very nice, non-vacant buildings in Lorain. OK, not an enormous amount of them, but enough.
Colorado Avenue is a good street to spot vacant buildings. Some look like they used to accomodate light industry and some look like retail stores fallen on hard times.
Above is the American Legion Post on West Erie Avenue. This is a complex that's actually grown over the years. But it doesn't exactly radiate a feeling of prosperity.
This is the old Dairy Queen on East Erie Avenue, now Terry's Dairy. They didn't bother to remove the old Dairy Queen signage framework. I'm not sure if this is out of business or just closed down for winter. It looks out of business. DQ used to represent the end-point of our longest family walks in the summer.
And of course, watching over the lakefront is the old Ohio Edison Plant.
I often wonder what my life would be like if I still lived in Lorain. Someone once told me that no matter where you go you'll only have roots in the place where you were raised. But can roots outweight a depressed economy and a struggling government?
But I have to admit, I've had a strange Lorain daydream lately. I dreamed that everyone who left to pursue college degrees, or careers, or families suddenly decided to return. All of the empty houses suddenly had buyers. The hardware stores sold-out of ladders and paint. The doctors and lawyers renovated the vacant storefronts downtown. An influx of thousands of kids required schools to be repaired and reopened. It could happen. Or if it can't, why not?