Tag Archives: Lorain

Learn More about Lorain

President Obama will visit this Ohio community on Friday.

Hear more about what Lorain is -and was- on this in-depth radio piece from WKSU news.

When Obama visited during the 2008 campaign, he spoke quite a bit about jobs and trade.

I imagine jobs and the economy will be on everyone’s mind there now as well.


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Filed under Economic Development, Green Jobs, Politics, The Media

Masculinity in the Rust Belt


Rust Wire has previously highlighted the writing of Lorain native Nick Kowalczyk.

Check out his latest essay, on what it means to “be a man” growing up in Lorain:

“The tough times of the 1980s and 1990s unraveled an old Lorain sensibility: you were ‘a man’ if you knew how to build things and repair cars and earned money by working with your hands. Many of those men now were laid-off or tenuously employed, made vulnerable, and economically and psychologically castrated. (If a man can’t provide for his family, than what kind of man is he?) For the first time in a century, a man could no longer be tough, minimally educated, factory-employed, and middle-class. The days of collecting a high school diploma and immediately getting a hardhat and union card were ending. So the male identity shifted in the low-income local economy. Manliness became a distinction belonging to those willing to act hard, not necessarily those willing to work hard, because, after all, what local work was there to be had anyway? And hardness became a trend among the young people.”

I really enjoy how he mixes his personal history in with Lorain’s.

Nick, thanks for sharing.

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Filed under Featured

Debating Residency Requirements

The Buffalo News’ “The ‘Burbs” blog posed a question yesterday that has been asked by many a municipality: should public employees be required to live where they work?


(Sorry for this lame picture. I couldn’t think of any other way to illustrate this story.)

Their post dealt with the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, but it’s a question that has been asked throughout our region.

Typically, municipal leaders – and oftentimes voters as well – favor such rules, which are often opposed by police and firefighters unions.

This has been a hot topic in Ohio with most of the state’s big cities, like Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, and others, pushing for residency rules.

The issue has even reached the state supreme court.

According to this Columbus Dispatch article, 134 cities and villages in Ohio have residency rules for at least some employees.

The cities’ argument – keeping employees close is important for public safety, and also keeps a large group of reliably middle-class workers within the city’s borders.

A Lorain city official once expressed his view on the subject to me this way, “If the city is good enough for you to take our money, it’s good enough for you to live here.”

Workers argue they should be able to live where they want, and “For far too long, a few cities have held their police officers hostage to high taxes, poor schools and mismanagement of municipal services,” an FOP attorney is quoted as saying in this story.

What do you think?



Filed under Featured, Politics, regionalism

Nick Kowalczyk on the Lorain, Ohio, Experience

Rust Wire has previously featured the work of Lorain, Ohio, native Nick Kowalczyk, a writer who is working on a book about his hometown.

Kowalczyk, an assistant professor of writing at Ithaca College, will be returning to the city to do some research this summer and is looking to speak to Lorainites. (Click on the above link for his contact information.)


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Filed under Art

Lorain, Ohio’s Steel Mill Trail

I recently spent an afternoon in and around my old stomping grounds of Lorain, Ohio. While I was there, I took a few hours to explore a Lorain County Metroparks Trail that runs through the slag fields of the city’s steel mill, as well as along the banks of the Black River. Walkers, runners, and bikers on the trail get to see a juxtaposition of industry (or what’s left of it, anyhow) and nature.

I wanted to share a few photos:


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Filed under The Big Urban Photography Project

St. Joe’s to Close in Lorain

St. Joseph Community Center, which occupies the former St. Joseph’s Hospital in the heart of downtown Lorain, will soon be closing its doors.

The old hospital is home to a number of non-profit and government offices. It’s not clear at this point what will happen to the building.

For most people in Lorain, this probably isn’t unexpected news; the center has been struggling for a number of years. When I worked in Lorain, the place was cutting jobs and services attempting to stay afloat. There were a number of proposals to revitalize the building and the area, but none ever seemed to come to fruition…

The hospital that serves the community is now located on the outskirts of the city. Do any of your cities have old hospitals in the central city that have been put to productive reuse? What are some other ways to fill a huge old building such as this one?


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Lorain literature


I really enjoyed this essay by Lorain native Nicholas Kowalczyk.


It’s a “conversation” between the author and the city.

“Lorain, are you listening? Can you speak? Please don’t be too tired or defeated after the last century,” he starts out.

“I want you to tell me your story. Tell me about life before the factories closed, tell me about the days when you believed you were important. When you mattered to America, to the world. When you made cars, ships, shovels, stoves, phones, clothes, cranes, and steel. When you built an excavator that dug sections of the Panama Canal, or the crane that broke ground for the United Nations building in Manhattan. Tell me about your shipyards that once were the best and the biggest on the Great Lakes, about your naval minesweepers that saved Allied lives during World War II, about the 15,000 proud, patriotic locals who celebrated the launching of your namesake, the U.S.S. Lorain, or of the joy in seeing native son
Admiral Ernest J. King command the Navy’s U.S. Fleet against Nazi Germany and Japan. I bet you were proud, too, when Ford Motor Company build the enormous Lorain Assembly Plant in 1958. ”


It’s interesting to read what Kowalczyk thinks Lorain would “say” back to him.

I just thought the story was really beautiful. His feelings for his hometown are clearly very deep, as is his anguish at seeing its faded glory. I should also point out, Lorain also has a great literary tradition. It is the hometown of famed authors Toni Morrison and Michael Dirda.

I spent two years working in Lorain, and the city and people I met there will always have a place in my heart.



Thank you to Rust Wire reader Jaime Warburton for sending this story to me.



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