Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bringing Back Braddock

Thursday I got my first taste of Braddock, PA - the defunct steel mill town my friend, Jenny, and her husband have chosen to build their life in. I visited to co-host her baby shower with another friend of ours and Jenny's mom. I'll talk more about the baby shower in another post - because right now I want to talk about the town.


Braddock is a town long lost and just recently found. Even before we officially entered the town neglect was apparent. Everywhere we turned houses were abandoned, boarded up, condemned. Storefronts on Braddock Ave were long ago forgotten and the town took on an eerie quiet.


But when I took a moment to really look, it became obvious that Braddock was once something great. The houses that remain have large bay windows and wide open front porches where one can imagine the occupants enjoying a cool drink and a neighborly chat on a cool spring afternoon. The abandoned churches and schools, all unique in their architecture were once proud and grand - now they find themselves crumbling and exhausted, waiting patiently for the wrecking ball.


Upon even closer inspection, Braddock shows real hope. Sort of like a single green sprout of life in a long forgotten barren field. The town has become a sort of haven for artists and free thinkers. People who take the ruins of the town and create undeniable beauty. Gardens are flourishing in empty lots where rotting houses once stood. Life is being breathed back into this town that perhaps once seemed hopeless for recovery.


Visiting Jenny in Braddock, really seeing what she has become a part of - it makes me proud to be her friend. The people who can see the value there in a town most would simply detour around - well, those are the kind of people the world needs more of.


Jenny said...[Reply to comment]

Aww you're sweet :)

I went to another cart-full-o-plants sale at Lowe's! We're up to >$600 in plants on the abandoned lot next door for $20 and the labor of digging holes :)