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View Full Version : I need a real dying small town as a setting



DrZoidberg
01-17-2010, 09:54 PM
I'm right now writing a novel about bodily functions, and to some extent about diseases. For the sake of metaphors I want the society to be mirrored in what happens in the body. This is an extremely minor part of the story, but I still think it will add a great dimension to it.

What I need is a real small city, or town that relies heavily on one type of industry. At some point the city should prosper and later when, due to the market or advancement in technology, the city starts to die. This needs to be partly a gradual progression, and at some point there must be a climax, for example the one factory getting shut down after bleeding cash for a while.

I've got a few ideas on good places, but I thought I throw the question out there in case I've missed some more obvious ones. It doesn't matter what type of industry. The more current and hight technological the better. The most important thing is that it really exists so I can do research to make it believable.

waylander
01-17-2010, 10:12 PM
Detroit?

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
01-17-2010, 11:04 PM
I've heard Youngstown, Ohio is in pretty bad shape.

A lot of the places in the Steel (Rust) Belt in the 80s, like Pittsburgh and Buffalo and such had the same sorts of problems.

hammerklavier
01-18-2010, 01:14 AM
There were any number of mining towns that fit the bill, when the mine stopped being profitable the town quickly died off. Search on "ghost towns".

Calla Lily
01-18-2010, 01:35 AM
Buffalo

Snowstorm
01-18-2010, 01:42 AM
Shoshoni, Wyoming, USA. It's small, population about 600. Or Hanna, Wyoming, USA, population about 800. They're both mining towns, real booms and busts.

Pthom
01-18-2010, 04:59 AM
Burns, Oregon. A perfect example of reliance on a single industry. After the lumber barons denuded the national forests (and some effort on the part of environmentalists to save the last of the old growth timber), all the mills in Burns have closed. There is little else in Burns on which to base an economy. There is some ranching, some tourism, but the place is really in the middle of what is, these days, nowhere.

Canotila
01-18-2010, 06:32 AM
Pick any small town in western Oregon in the Cascade range. Most of them were founded as logging towns, and are dead and drying up now.

augusto
01-18-2010, 07:37 AM
Most any town on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota.

DrZoidberg
01-18-2010, 04:16 PM
I wasn't thinking a dead town, since that would make the metaphor meaningless. Detroit is good, but a wee bit big. Autoindustry is good, since it's topical. Thanks for the tips.

CEtchison
01-18-2010, 07:33 PM
Would a town that existed and survived due to a military presence work for your story? Many small towns all across the U.S. have suffered due to the base realignment and closures.

AryaT92
01-18-2010, 07:35 PM
Detroit is a bit overused though. Maybe I was just shoved too many short stories about it in AP lit =(

Shadow_Ferret
01-18-2010, 07:40 PM
If its a metaphor, then you'd want a well-known city that's collapsed for whatever reason. A small town that the reader has never heard of will only confuse things. Therefore, Detroit, or maybe Gary, Indiana, would work.

WendyNYC
01-18-2010, 07:44 PM
Windsor, MO. I'd guess it has a pop. of about 2,000 - 3,000. They used to have some sort of mill. Dog food maybe?

Try Sedalia MO if you want a slightly bigger town in MO with similar problems.

johnnysannie
01-18-2010, 08:02 PM
Windsor, MO. I'd guess it has a pop. of about 2,000 - 3,000. They used to have some sort of mill. Dog food maybe?

Try Sedalia MO if you want a slightly bigger town in MO with similar problems.

Try about any small town in Missouri that you like; the majority would fit - unfortunately.

Richard White
01-18-2010, 09:20 PM
Hey, my Missouri hometown resembles that remark . . . or is it resents . . . or maybe both. *grin*

ebennet68
01-18-2010, 09:30 PM
I was also going to recommend Youngstown, Ohio. The place was huge up until the 70's. When the steel industry left, the place went downhill. Now when you drive around, you see a lot of abandoned buildings, houses, etc. GM still has a plant open in Lordstown, Ohio which isn't far from Youngstown. If they ever left, Youngstown would be a ghost town. Really sad. It's not near as large as Detroit or Gary, Indiana.

DrZoidberg
01-19-2010, 12:39 PM
If its a metaphor, then you'd want a well-known city that's collapsed for whatever reason. A small town that the reader has never heard of will only confuse things. Therefore, Detroit, or maybe Gary, Indiana, would work.

I don't think that will matter. I'd have to flesh out the story and explain things anyway. Regardless of what city I pick, I can't assume anybody knows anything about it. I'll have to make whatever city/town I pick mine even though I reference real places and things.

I think it's a personal thing for my writing style. I like to do extensive research when I write, even though I might as well just make it up. Immersion is in the details, and all of that.

I'm leaning towards a smaller town. I think it will fit my story better. But it's not vitally important.

Thanks for all the feedback.

C.M. Daniels
01-19-2010, 10:28 PM
Libby, Montana.

It was a logging and mining town. Logging is no more and the mines poisoned the town and everyone in it with asbestos. It's a place that's dying, literally. It's well documented, press, court cases, EPA.

stormie
01-19-2010, 11:26 PM
Something different: How about a town that's on the Atlantic coast of the US, based on tourism, but dying?

Asbury Park, NJ, a very small city, is unfortunately such a place. It used to have a thriving tourist industry as well as locals who went to the beaches, the amusements on the boardwalk, and a downtown with department stores. It also was where Bruce Springsteen began his music career.

After the 1970 riots, about a fifth of the city was ruined, and many people, then businesses, moved out. The gov't gave a million dollars back then for rehabilitation, but the money was never seen again. (Deep pockets on some people, I think.)

It's tried several times to make a comeback, but only about four city blocks are truly renovated and being used by tourists and locals. The beaches are still quiet in the summer.

Asbury Park reminds me of having a disease that's slowing eating away at the periphery, making its way to the core, with some healing yet scarring here and there.

V-Man
01-20-2010, 12:39 AM
Ingleside, TX was real dependent on the Navy, but since they closed the base it's a ghost town. Nothing but beat up old refineries and methamphetamines there now.

Good luck.