Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 79

Thread: Cairo, Illinois: America's most depressing city

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,524
    Blog entries
    3

    Cairo, Illinois: America's most depressing city

    The following photos were taken in November 2008. I'll let them speak for themselves and for the city.

    There's several other threads on Cyburbia regarding Cairo. The most notable:

    I'll repeat what I wrote in an earlier thread: to Cyburbians outside of the United States, please understand that Cairo is NOT a typical American small town. We're fascinated with it because while many small towns in the United States have struggled in recent decades, no place has fallen as hard as Cairo, and the backstory is so fascinating and tragic. Americans are proud, but we're also very transparent; like a skateboarder proudly showing off his scars to his buddies, we tend not to hide our scrapes, bruises, scabs and infections. Our achievements as a nation, as well as the things we are ashamed of, are on public display for all to see.

    That being said, "Welcome to Cairo: Gateway to the South."


    1950s-style billboard. Long gone from the rest of the country, there were a few of them still around Cairo.


    8th Street east of Sycamore Avenue, looking east towards downtown Cairo.


    Historic Downtown Cairo. 8th Street streetscape.


    8th Street, downtown.


    Gem Theater, 8th Street, downtown.


    8th Street, downtown.


    Commercial Avenue, downtown. Cairo's traditional main street.


    View from Commercial Avenue towards 7th Street.


    More downtown.


    Looking towards Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    My dogs exploring downtown Cairo.


    Commercial Avenue near 10th Street.


    Commercial Avenue near 10th Street.


    Abandoned furniture store on Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial Avenue.


    Housing project next to the Ohio River.


    Alley east of Commercial Avenue.


    Railroad Street.


    Ohio River.


    US 51; the current functional main street of Cairo. Not much is left there, either.


    US 51.


    US 51; abandoned hardware store.


    US 51: Washington Avenue. The wide sidewalks spoke of better times.


    US 51: Washington Avenue.


    US 51: Washington Avenue. Ghost sign.


    US 51: Washington Avenue.


    US 51: Washington Avenue. Shemwell's BBQ.


    US 51: Washington Avenue. National Guard Armory.


    Port of Cairo, Sycamore Street.


    Fire station, Jefferson Avenue.




    1970s-ers gas guzzlers were a common sight in Cairo.


    Unusual two-flat.


    Lone shotgun shack.


    Shotgun shacks.


    Shotgun shacks.


    Old street sign.


    More decay.


    More decay.


    More decay.


    Lone house on tbe north end of Commercial Avenue.


    Commercial blocks at the far north end of Commercial Avenue, about two miles north of downtown.


    One of the few commercial enterprises in town: barbecue grill manufacturing. Far north end of Commercial Avenue, about two miles north of downtown.


    Cairo is filled with solid, imposing church buildings. This is an AME church from the turn of the last century; it impressed me considering the poverty and discrimination faced by the African-American community of the day.


    Yes, Cairo has a good neighborhood.

    West Side: house near Washington Avenue


    Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    West Side: house near Washington Avenue


    West Side: house near Washington Avenue


    Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    Magnolia Manor. Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    Southern end of Washington Avenue, Cairo's historic Millionaire's Row


    US 51 tunnel under the levee that surrounds Cairo; the way out of town.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
         
    Registered
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Way out there
    Posts
    175
    Fascinating and depressing all at once.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,944
    I would like to live/work there a couple of years to better understand the situation: and to help turn it around.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,030

    WOW!

    I hope there is still someplace left like this for me to retire to in the distant future...... There will always be Detroit

    Who am I kidding, my retirement party will be a co-worker discovering my lifeless body slumped over my desk

    I just did a quick check of realtor.com to see how much some of those cooler looking houses might be selling for......and got nothing.....not even a trailer for sale.....what gives? Would the homes be listed under another place name?

    They need to put two huge toll arms across both rivers and require $1,000 per boat passing
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    This thread needs an Uncle Tupelo soundtrack and some Ken Burns-style zoomouts. Fascinating. I imagine they won't be able to support basic gov't services much longer. That will be the nail in the coffin. Makes you wonder about the sense memory of a place. That is, can a place evoke so many bad memories that people feel compelled to leave?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  6. #6
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Back in SE Texas
    Posts
    1,651
    I have driven past Cairo on I-57 many times. For a community at the intersection of 3 states and 2 major rivers, there is very little from the Interstate that would alert you that any services are available. The fact is there are no services available you either fuel up in Mt. Vernon, 30 miles north on I-57 or you wait until the terminus of I-57 in near Charleston, MO.

    Cario is continuing it's slow march to death, or at least nothing more than a wide spot in the road. Alexander County, the home of Cario, has a 27% poverty rate. The County just had most of their sheriff vehicles repossesed and they only have 30k in the general fund.

    Cario has a fascinating history and is an interesting anamoly in IL. That part of the state feels more like the South than the rest of the state. I remember leaving Indianapolis in a driving snow and getting to far southern IL where leaves were still on some of the trees, even in early December. Some of the architecture looks like it came from Gone With The Wind. I am not sure what will solve the ills of Cario, but it is a sad sad story.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    Yeah, I'd say there are a few real estate bargains there: http://www.trulia.com/IL/Cairo/#

    Just pipe Zoloft into the water supply and it would be tolerable.

    Wasn't there a song mentioning Cairo in Disney's Huckleberry Finn? Or maybe I'm thinking of Song of the South?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,845
    Most depressing? Maybe Detroit. Check out this "neighborhood" that I randomly found on Bing. Zoom in to the corner of Ferry and Elmwood and note the fire damanged house among the vacant lots.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,166
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    Fascinating. I imagine they won't be able to support basic gov't services much longer. That will be the nail in the coffin.
    I was musing the exact same thoughts in the 'Worth the Stop?' thread just a couple of days ago:
    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Could there be a push forthcoming to 'rationalize' some of the local-level government in that area, such as dissolving cities/villages, (force?) merging counties and school and other special-use districts, etc?

    Mike


    Mike

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,128
    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas? View post
    Most depressing? Maybe Detroit. Check out this "neighborhood" that I randomly found on Bing. Zoom in to the corner of Ferry and Elmwood and note the fire damanged house among the vacant lots.
    Most depressing thing about Detroit? The Lions! Actually you have stumbled into a very desolate part of the near east side. However, this is within walking distance of Colleges, Universities, World Class art facilities, and the Eastern Market. Go south a bit and you will be in for a huge shocker. There are three enormous Catholic churches withing a few blocks of each other. Not much is left of that area, much of it was cleared long ago for urban renewal and thats what killed what was left.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  11. #11
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,030

    Ok......

    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    Yeah, I'd say there are a few real estate bargains there: http://www.trulia.com/IL/Cairo/#

    Just pipe Zoloft into the water supply and it would be tolerable.

    Wasn't there a song mentioning Cairo in Disney's Huckleberry Finn? Or maybe I'm thinking of Song of the South?
    I was really looking for more than just one example of house prices in Cairo......this is the only one found using your link:

    http://www.trulia.com/property/10651...Cairo-IL-62914

    Not bad 149k for 4bd 4500sf place.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,222
    Wow. You can get yourself a beautiful 4,500 square foot historic Victorian home (probably in the best neighborhood of Cairo) for under $150,000! Of course, then you're living in Cairo.

    http://www.trulia.com/property/10651...Cairo-IL-62914
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  13. #13
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    Sorry. I guess the page timed out. Do a search for Cairo on it. Then again, you've probably already done that.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,030

    Sure.....

    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    Wow. You can get yourself a beautiful 4,500 square foot historic Victorian home (probably in the best neighborhood of Cairo) for under $150,000! Of course, then you're living in Cairo.

    http://www.trulia.com/property/10651...Cairo-IL-62914
    So what, I'd buy the adjacent lots and build an 8' wall surrounding it(+$50,000)....and have my own little estate......
    Skilled Adoxographer

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    So what, I'd buy the adjacent lots and build an 8' wall surrounding it(+$50,000)....and have my own little estate......
    Where will you work, shop and find entertainment? Are there any healthy cities within commuting distance?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,614
    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Where will you work, shop and find entertainment? Are there any healthy cities within commuting distance?
    Here are a few possibilities ?
    Carbondale, Illinois
    Paducah, Kentucky
    Cape Girardeau, Missouri
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,222
    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Here are a few possibilities ?
    Carbondale, Illinois
    Paducah, Kentucky
    Cape Girardeau, Missouri
    Carbondale is about 50 miles. Paducah and Cape Girardeau are about 35 miles. So basically you'd have to drive 35-45 minutes at least to do anything.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  18. #18
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,524
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Where will you work, shop and find entertainment? Are there any healthy cities within commuting distance?
    Another thing: in several essays I've read about Cairo, it's written that the people living there are just not nice people. It's a city of gruff, non-nonsense river rats.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  19. #19

    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    1,548
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Another thing: in several essays I've read about Cairo, it's written that the people living there are just not nice people. It's a city of gruff, non-nonsense river rats.
    My dad is a minister, and one of his assistant pastors at his first church was a not-so-nice man from Cairo. He was an bitter older man -- I attributed it to some really bad life experiences growing up there as an African-American. Whatever the case, my dad had to let him go because of his bitterness.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,197
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Another thing: in several essays I've read about Cairo, it's written that the people living there are just not nice people. It's a city of gruff, non-nonsense river rats.
    Could you link any of those. Since reading this thread I am really interested in this town but I haven't found out a whole lot on the recent state of things, internet searches turn up mostly historical items.

  21. #21
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,524
    Blog entries
    3
    A couple of stories online. There's more, but these came to mind right away.

    http://unemploymentality.com/2009/07...airo-illinois/
    http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2...0magcairoaug10
    Far From Home Life and Loss in Two American Towns : Ron Powers
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,614
    Another nail in the coffin -
    September 15, 2009

    HEADLINE: National Guard armory to relocate, upgrade
    The Carbondale unit, Cairo unit and Marion reserve unit — about 200 troops — will be consolidated into the new facility and the armory in Cairo will be closed after the move,
    http://www.siude.com/news/national-g...ade-1.1878898#
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,524
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    HEADLINE: National Guard armory to relocate, upgrade
    The armory in Cairo is a gorgeous building, and I can't see any kind of reuse opportunities. Looks like that building will rot away over the next few decades as well as the rest of downtown Cairo.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Did the Pepsi sign finally fall down?



    Actually I think this building is now demolished.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
    Posts
    77

    Very sad ...

    I'm from Illinois - north central Illinois, though - and while I haven't specifically investigated it, I think there are probably other small towns in Illinois that may be on their way to suffering this type of fate.

    There just isn't that much to do in small towns in Illinois, and frankly, the employment opportunities are not great, either. The towns I lived in during my childhood were dominated by farming, factories and mills, and over time as production and labor moved overseas, as the rivers and canals lost their importance in the movement of goods, and as the nation has become increasingly enmeshed in the global marketplace, the economies have spiralled downward if these small towns didn't figure out how to re-invent themselves.

    Additionally, places like Cairo breed a VERY small-town mentality, such that you either grow up itching to "escape" or you grow up and fear leaving - the "outside" world just looks and seems too scary. I personally grew up itching to leave, fueled by "modern" parents who valued and obtained college educations while I was growing up. Also, my mom, being from another country, was good about taking my brother and I to Chicago and places up in the Northeast so we could learn more about the world in which we lived. None of this characterized the people I spent my early childhood around.

    Florida became my home state at the age of 11, and I've never been tempted to go back. I have some nice memories of my early childhood - winters sledding, throwing snowballs, and "real" fall, where the trees change colors, and the amazing feeling of spring, with the snow melting and things turning green again, flowers blooming, return of the birds ...

    But beyond that which nature offered, there just wasn't much to do unless we drove up to Chicago, or at minimum, places like Peoria.

    In any case - has the population largely left Cairo? The place looks deserted in the pics ... I almost thought I was looking at one of those old westerns with the deserted Main Street. All that was missing was the tumbleweed ...

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 34
    Last post: 01 Oct 2009, 1:53 PM
  2. Replies: 25
    Last post: 24 Jan 2008, 12:58 PM
  3. Replies: 20
    Last post: 10 Jul 2005, 1:44 PM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last post: 29 Dec 2003, 10:54 PM