October 15, 2015
At the end of the Chicago Skyway, just off Exit Zero, lies southest Chicago, once a leading steel-producing region. The city’s steel mills spanned the shores of Lake Michigan, employed hundreds of thousands of workers, and fostered the growth of nearby communities. By the end of the 1980s, however, the industry collapsed and nearly every mill closed, leaving the neighborhoods with non-existent economies and toxic environments. Anthropologist Christine Walley was fourteen when the steel mill that employed her father closed. Walley narrates the personal impact of deindustrialization on her family and friends. Deep-seated feelings of cynicism and disappointment combine with hopefulness for the next generation in this quintessentially American story of a post-industrial city.