16 Places in America That Used to Be Rich But Are Now Poor

Many of America’s poorest towns weren’t always facing hard times. In fact, some of them are former boomtowns that used to boast prosperous economies and flourishing industries. Using figures from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and Data USA, we examine how prosperity turned to poverty in towns and cities nationwide.

Whigham, Georgia: From Agricultural Hub to Economic Downturn

Whigham, Georgia, took a severe hit during the Great Depression, drastically reducing its population from its late 19th-century beginnings as a thriving agricultural town. Despite a small peak in 2000, its population declined to 552 by 2020. This southern town, originally flourishing with farms and agricultural businesses, now struggles with a 13.7% poverty rate.

West Blocton, Alabama: The Rise and Fall of a Coal Town

Around 3,600 residents thrived in West Blocton, Alabama, at the height of the coal industry. However, a devastating fire in 1927, followed by the 1929 stock market crash, led to its decline. Today, it houses around 1,200 people, facing a poverty rate of 18.5%, with a median household income of $33,625.

Bogalusa, Louisiana: Timber’s Decline

Once a booming timber town, Bogalusa, Louisiana, now struggles with a 31.5% poverty rate. The timber industry’s decline in the 1960s left the city with diminished prosperity. Today, with a median income of $31,976 and only 9.7% of its adults holding a bachelor’s degree, the place reflects the hardships faced post-industry.

Camden, Arkansas: From Cotton Fields to Economic Hardships

In the late 1800s, Camden, Arkansas, was a vibrant hub due to its thriving cotton trade. However, post-WWII changes in agricultural practices and foreign competition decimated local production. Now, Camden struggles with a poverty rate of 31.8% and a median household income significantly below the national average.

Brunswick, Georgia: The Ebb and Flow of Fortunes

Brunswick, Georgia, experienced fluctuating fortunes, originally thriving through naval stores and timber production. Despite the ongoing strength of the timber industry nationally, Brunswick hasn’t benefitted, resulting in a poverty rate of 34.7% and a stark drop in median household income.

Laurinburg, North Carolina: Textile Boom to Bust

Laurinburg, North Carolina, once prospered through its textile industry. Despite a rich history of economic prosperity around textile manufacturing, the industry’s shift away from smaller towns has left Laurinburg with a poverty rate of 36.6% and a reduced median household income.

Braddock, Pennsylvania: Steel’s Legacy Lost

Braddock thrived with a strong steel industry until its decline in the 1970s. Once a bustling economic locale, the borough situated in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh now endures a high poverty rate of 36.7%. The significant decrease in population and economic output starkly contrasts its industrious past.

East Cleveland, Ohio: Industrial Decline and Economic Struggles

In its industrial prime, East Cleveland, Ohio, was a magnet for manufacturing jobs and economic growth. Today, it suffers from a 37.5% poverty rate, with incomes and employment opportunities far below their historical peak. The closure of major factories like General Electric has had a lasting impact.

Ville Platte, Louisiana: From Oil Boom to Economic Gloom

Ville Platte, Louisiana, experienced economic highs with the discovery of oil and the establishment of a carbon black plant. However, with a current poverty rate of 41.4% and minimal local employment, the town’s past prosperity is just a memory.

Brownsville, Florida: Social Shifts and Economic Downturns

In the early 1900s, Brownsville, Florida, was a flourishing area for Black professionals. However, demographic and social changes post-WWII led to the decline of locally owned businesses. Despite its historical significance today, it grapples with a poverty rate exceeding 40%.

Springhill, Louisiana: Timber and Paper Industry’s Decline

Springhill, Louisiana, sustained its economy through timber and paper industries until the International Paper Company’s mill was closed in 1979. Since then, the town has faced a poverty rate of 45.6%, reflecting the broader struggles of small industry towns.

Hamtramck, Michigan: Auto Industry Impact

Once known for its thriving automobile manufacturing, Hamtramck, Michigan, has since struggled as industries have moved or closed, including the significant loss marked by General Motors’ plant closure. The town now suffers from a poverty rate of 46.5% and declining economic opportunities.

Cairo, Illinois: Historical Highs to Economic Lows

Cairo, Illinois, was poised for prosperity post-Civil War with booming rail and ferry industries. However, a series of challenges over the century led to economic decline, and today, it faces a poverty rate of 46.5% with a significantly reduced population.

Wichita, Kansas: Aviation’s Decline

Once celebrated as “The Air Capital of the World,” Wichita, Kansas, has seen its aerospace sector struggle, mainly after key companies like Boeing left. This historical manufacturing hub now ranks lower in wealth than its mid-20th-century status. Then again, you can always visit its museums and award-winning food and drink establishments.

Stockton-Lodi, California: Housing Boom and Bust

The financial crisis hit Stockton, California, hard, culminating in a bankruptcy declaration following a housing market collapse. This metropolitan area, once fueled by economic growth, now struggles with a high unemployment rate and significant economic challenges. One good thing, though, is its quality educational institutions, like the University of the Pacific.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania: Steel’s Disappearing Act

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a leading steel producer, but it is now grappling with economic stagnation and a high poverty rate. The town’s decline from industrial powerhouse to economic hardship is reflected in its 33.7% poverty rate. Communities faced challenges related to manufacturing industries that no longer sustained their economies.

17 Facts About Birthright Citizenship Around the World

Birthright citizenship, the practice of granting citizenship to all children born within a country’s territories regardless of their parents’ nationality, varies globally. This principle, known as “jus soli” (right of the soil), contrasts with “jus sanguinis” (right of blood), where one’s parentage determines citizenship. Here are some facts about birthright citizenship worldwide, highlighting the complexities and diverse approaches to nationality laws.

United States

Children born on American soil are almost universally guaranteed citizenship, a principle enshrined in the Constitution. This policy is one of the most straightforward applications of jus soli globally.


Anyone born in Canada automatically receives Canadian citizenship, showcasing the country’s inclusive stance on birthright nationality. This open approach reflects Canada’s broader values of diversity and inclusion.


Germany offers a path to citizenship for children born to non-German parents, provided certain residency requirements are met. This blend of jus soli and jus sanguinis principles marks a significant shift from its previously more restrictive citizenship laws.


India requires at least one parent to be a citizen for a child born within its borders to gain Indian nationality, a policy enacted to control immigration. This stance marks a departure from the broader jus soli practice, tightening the requirements for citizenship by birth.


Brazil firmly upholds the right of soil, granting citizenship to all born within its territories, coupled with protective measures against extradition for its nationals. This policy underlines Brazil’s commitment to ensuring its citizens, by birth, enjoy a broad spectrum of protections.

United Kingdom

In the UK, children born to non-British parents can acquire citizenship at birth if at least one parent has settled status. This conditional approach reflects the UK’s nuanced stance on jus soli, balancing between open citizenship and regulatory caution.


Following a referendum in 2004, Ireland now requires that at least one parent be an Irish citizen or have significant residency for a child born in Ireland to receive Irish citizenship automatically. This amendment has tightened the criteria for birthright citizenship, aligning it more closely with jus sanguinis principles.


France allows children born on French soil to foreign parents the opportunity to claim French citizenship upon reaching adulthood under specific conditions. This policy illustrates France’s intricate balance between birthright principles and integration measures.


Pakistan’s citizenship laws are predominantly based on jus sanguinis, requiring a parent to be a Pakistani national, irrespective of the child’s place of birth. This policy emphasizes the importance of bloodline over the geographical location of birth in determining nationality.

South Africa

To acquire South African citizenship by birth, a child must have at least one parent who is a South African citizen or holds permanent residency. This requirement showcases South Africa’s cautious approach to granting citizenship, ensuring a connection to the nation through parentage or residency.


Australia mandates that at least one parent be a citizen or permanent resident so that a child born there can become an Australian citizen by birth. This policy, instituted in 1986, marks a shift towards more restrictive citizenship criteria, reflecting concerns over passport tourism.


Italy’s citizenship laws are steeped in jus sanguinis, allowing children born abroad to Italian parents to claim Italian nationality. This adherence underscores the importance of heritage and lineage in the Italian understanding of nationality.


Mexico embraces a comprehensive jus soli policy, awarding citizenship to all individuals born on its territory without condition. This inclusive approach signifies Mexico’s welcoming stance on nationality and citizenship.


Japan follows a strict jus sanguinis system, where citizenship is conferred based on parental nationality rather than the place of birth. This policy highlights Japan’s emphasis on heritage as the cornerstone of national identity.


In Argentina, birthright citizenship is granted unconditionally to those born within its borders, reflecting the nation’s open and inclusive policy. This practice affirms Argentina’s commitment to ensuring that all born on its soil are recognized as Argentine from birth.

New Zealand

Since 2006, New Zealand has required at least one parent to be a citizen or permanent resident for their child to gain citizenship by birth. This adjustment aims to balance the right of soil with considerations of parental connection to the country.


China does not recognize jus soli; instead, it determines citizenship through jus sanguinis, where a child’s nationality depends on their parents. This approach underscores the prioritization of lineage over birthplace in Chinese nationality law.

12 Things That Were Normal in the 90s But Strange Now

Ah, the ’90s. A decade that feels like a colorful, grunge-infused, dial-up connected moment stuck in time, sandwiched between the neon glow of the ’80s and the digital boom of the new millennium. It was a time when things were simpler, or so we like to think, but also a bit weirder by today’s standards. Let’s look into things that were normal back in the day but would probably make any Gen Z scratch their heads in confusion. Welcome aboard the nostalgia trip!

Rewinding to Be Kind

Remember when watching a movie at home wasn’t as easy as clicking a button? Back then, VHS tapes ruled the entertainment world, and “Be Kind, Rewind” wasn’t just a quirky saying—it was a golden rule. After finishing a movie, you had to rewind the tape all the way back to the beginning. Not doing so was considered a major faux pas.

The Dial-Up Symphony

The unmistakable sound of the internet connecting through a phone line was the soundtrack of the ’90s tech revolution. That screeching and buzzing noise meant you were about to enter the digital world. But heaven forbid someone needed to use the phone while you were online. Yes, you couldn’t use the internet and the phone simultaneously. What a shocker!

MapQuest Roadmaps

Before GPS and smartphones, getting directions for a road trip meant using MapQuest. You’d print out pages of step-by-step directions and hope you didn’t miss a turn. If you did, well, good luck figuring out where you were without a live rerouting feature. It was part adventure, part stress, but all part of the journey.

The Pager Code

Pagers, or beepers, were the text messages of the ’90s. You couldn’t send a full message, just a callback number and maybe a coded message. That is, if you were cool enough to know the lingo. Deciphering a page from a friend or crush was like cracking a secret code. Now, we’re inundated with instant messaging apps, making the idea of a one-way numeric message feel incredibly outdated.

Cassette Tape Magic

Making a mixtape was a labor of love. Recording songs from the radio onto a cassette, timing it perfectly to capture your favorite tunes without the DJ interrupting, was an art form. Mixtapes were personal gifts that required thought, effort, and patience. Today, with streaming services and playlists, the personal touch of a mixtape is a lost art.

The Encyclopedia Set

Before Google became our go-to for every question, actual physical encyclopedias were the treasure troves of knowledge. Homes proudly displayed full sets and researching meant flipping through pages, not tabs. The idea of reaching for a book to answer a question now seems almost quaint.

Blockbuster Nights

Friday nights were Blockbuster nights. Browsing aisles for the perfect movie to rent was an event in itself, complete with the smell of popcorn and the excitement of finding a new release. Late fees were the bane of our existence, but it was all part of the experience. Streaming services might be convenient, but they lack the tangible joy of a Blockbuster visit.

The Floppy Disk Save

The floppy disk wasn’t just an icon for saving files; it was the actual method of data storage. These plastic squares held a whopping 1.44 MB of data. Today, that’s barely enough to store a single photo, but back then, it was essential for transporting documents and files. The concept of cloud storage would have seemed like science fiction.

Chat Room Socializing

Before social media, chat rooms were the place to be online. Entering “A/S/L?” was your introduction, and making friends with strangers from around the world was the norm. It was a mysterious and thrilling digital frontier, vastly different from the curated feeds and profiles we have now.

Payphone Preparedness

Having a quarter for a payphone was essential outside communication. Whether you were calling for a ride or checking in, payphones were your lifeline when out and about. Today, the thought of using a public phone, let alone finding one, is a rarity.

TV Guide Timing

Want to know what’s on TV? You’d consult the TV Guide, a physical booklet or a specific channel that listed programming schedules. Planning your evening around a TV show’s airing time was common practice. Streaming on-demand has rendered the concept of “missing” a show almost obsolete.

The Discman Skip

Listening to music on the go meant carrying a Discman and a booklet of CDs. But beware, the skip! Every bump or jostle could interrupt your jam. With our smartphones and seamless digital music, the painstaking effort to keep it steady seems ludicrous now.

The Library Catalogue

Researching meant going to the library and using the card catalog or the early computer systems to find books. It was a tactile, sometimes tedious process, but finding what you needed was immensely satisfying. Now, with information at our fingertips, the act of physical research is a rare endeavor.

Handwritten Letters

Pen pals were a thing; writing letters was how you kept in touch with long-distance friends and family. The excitement of receiving a handwritten letter is unmatched, even by today’s instant messaging. It’s a personal touch that’s fading away in our digital age.

Floppy Hair and Frosted Tips

And, of course, how can we forget about the fashion statements—specifically, the hairstyles? Floppy hair for the guys, à la Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic,” and frosted tips that seemed to be a staple for every boy band. Hairstyles that were the height of cool now serve as amusing throwbacks to a different era.