Abandoned in the HeartlandWork, Family, and Living in East St. Louis

Abandoned in the HeartlandWork, Family, and Living in East St. Louis

Jennifer Hamer

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780520269316

Publisher: University of California Press

Abstract

Urban poverty, along with all of its poignant manifestations, is moving from city centers to working-class and industrial suburbs in contemporary America, and nowhere is this more evident than in East St. Louis, Illinois. Once a thriving manufacturing and transportation center, East St. Louis is now known for its unemployment, crime, and collapsing infrastructure. This book takes us into the lives of East St. Louis's predominantly African American residents to find out what has happened since industry abandoned the city, and jobs, quality schools, and city services disappeared, leaving people isolated and imperiled. It introduces men who search for meaning and opportunity in dead-end jobs, women who often take on caretaking responsibilities until well into old age, and parents who have the impossible task of protecting their children in this dangerous, and literally toxic, environment. Illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs showing how the city has changed over time, the book, full of stories of courage and fortitude, offers a vision of the transformed circumstances of life in one American suburb.