Published January 30, 2013
Youngstown, Ohio, used to be one of the great centers of American steel manufacturing, until the steel mills closed down in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today, brownfields and abandoned houses litter the landscape and the city has lost much of its population.
The recent boom of the shale gas industry in neighboring Pennsylvania and increasingly in Ohio has raised hopes for the revival of the city. A new steel mill, making gas pipes, recently opened, while restaurants and motels are getting busier.
At the same time, there are fears among residents that extracting shale gas could devastate the already fragile environment. The city was recently hit by a series of earthquakes caused by underground disposal of drilling waste. Weighted down by memories of its glorious but dirty past, the city of Youngstown is trying to choose its future.
This reporting was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Calkins Media, publishers of Shalereporter.com.