The steel mills are dead. Long live the future.
The music is deafening and two young men pounding the drums in a warehouse in Youngstown. It’s Wednesday and the rock group Sam Goodwill practices before its next U.S. tour.
Sam Buonavolonta is 31 years old and the lead singer in the band. He has no strong memories of the steel mill industry. Generation Y – the grandchildren of the generation that grew up after the war and worked in factories, doesn’t look back to the glory days in Youngstown.
They do not remember The Black Monday. On Sept. 19, 1977, Jennings R. Lambeth, president of Youngstown Sheet & Tube, made the shocking announcement that the company would shutter its mills. The people left and the once thriving streets became empty.
The city died.
Sam and his friends really don’t care that much about the past. It’s gone. For Generation Y Youngstown is cool and full of opportunities, not abandoned and empty as it might look like when you drive through the city.
“Youngstown gives me freedom and choices. This city is cheap to live in and it has artists, musicians and creative people. The energy is coming back to Youngstown. Because of the low living costs, I don’t need a well paid job. That gives me more opportunities as an musician. I rather live in poverty, ” says Buonavolonta.
Youngstown once had 160.000 people, many of them working in the steel mills by the Mahoning river. Today the city has lost almost two thirds of its population. Thousands of houses are empty and ambandoned.
Allan Williams moved to Youngstown to do what millions of Americans dream of.
“I bought a nice house for 8000 dollars! I am 33 years old and I own my own house. And I have no mortgage. That’s my American dream…”