“When the mill shut down … people left here in the middle of the night, walked away from mortgages,” said city administrator Samuel L. Gill. “It was a traumatic time. We saw our population drop overnight by 35 to 40 percent.” This downtown 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, marked by chains of shuttered and abandoned storefronts, bears all the exit wounds of the manufacturing era.
For many, Trump’s promises of restored American greatness echo President Ronald Reagan’s “city on a hill” theme from the 1980s — before the towns’ economic drivers went overseas. In his historic victories, Reagan appealed to what would be known as “Reagan Democrats,” mostly blue-collar whites uneasy with national trends.
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