High taxes, political corruption, and disastrous local policies drive decline in southern Illinois as nearby Missouri prospers.
On the I-57 highway through Illinois, time seems to go backward with each southbound mile.
The houses and cars in the yards get older. As years pass, town populations shrink. Eventually, homes turn back into piles of disconnected wood and glass, then empty lots. At the end of the highway, the town of Cairo slowly sinks back into the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
A town of 15,000 people in the 1920s, Cairo now houses fewer than 2,000 residents. Today, the town is so silent that the few voices heard while walking the streets underscore its emptiness.
Cairo’s citizens live between abandoned buildings and walk sidewalks covered in burrs. Many work in Missouri or Kentucky.
Glenn Collier is one of the few Cairo residents with a job in the city. He’s a general contractor. Although he has lived in Cairo for most of his life, he said he only stays because he has family in the area.
“The closest place that you’ll find a job around here is probably 30 miles away,” Collier told The Epoch Times.