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A post-apocalyptic future – The lost neighbourhood of Lincoln Way

June 2017

Many of us have visions of what a post-apocalyptic world might look like.

In western Pennsylvania is the City of Clairton, a city that was the setting for the 1978 movie, “The Deer Hunter”, although none of the movie was actually filmed there.

One residential street in Clairton is Lincoln Way, gives us a glimpse of what a world may look like after people are gone.

Once a lively cul-de-sac residential street with 16 homes, all that’s left are abandoned and crumbling homes, the foundations of those that have burned down or fallen down, lots of debris, overgrown trees and bushes and the crumbling asphalt roadway and sidewalks.  

These homes once were alive with the activity of people living their everyday lives, with children playing in the yards and the street.  Now they are devoid of any sounds of life; an eerie, bitter absence of life.

There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer as to why the residents abandoned their homes starting in the 1970s, some leaving behind personal possessions and furniture.  Some still have clothes hanging in the closet.

There have been several theories ranging from paranormal activity that includes a beast that dwells in the woods that surrounds the residential community, to the more likely environmental concerns such as toxic fumes emitted from the coke piles at the U.S. Steel Clairton Plant situated directly across from the neighborhood on North State Street.

Some former residents stated frequent sickness, unbearable bad odours and unexplained occurrences.

Others say the properties were bought up and the neighbourhood was to be demolished for a highway expansion that never happened.

What is factual is that the street was slowly vacated, with some of the homes still occupied up to 2007 (according to Google Street-view), and not evacuated within hours as some web sites imply.

Tax assessment records also show that the homes have had the same owners since the 1970s , but payment of taxes have been spotty or non-existent for all but three of the homes, regardless of being occupied or not.

Over the years, some of the homes have burned down or fallen down, but around ten of them remain with leaking roofs, crumbling walls, rotting floors and broken windows, the copper and other metals having been stripped by salvagers.

There are also several sinkholes scattered around the land surrounding Lincoln Way.

According to Clairton city manager Howard Bednar, the city hopes to demolish the remaining homes, but with tight budgets, abandoned homes that sit among occupied areas of the city are more of a priority.

Once demolished, the Redevelopment Authority of Clairton will take possession of the properties that are delinquent on their taxes.

Until then, Lincoln Way will continue to serve as a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic future.

Sources:  https://architecturalafterlife.com/2015/01/27/the-eerie-abandoned-neighborhood-of-lincoln-way/, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pennsylvania-ghost-towns-mystery-clairtons-creepy-lincoln-granato, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clairton,_Pennsylvania, http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2015/04/11/Clairton-fire-decimates-ghost-town/stories/201504110108

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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