Nessa ネッサ (nessachan) wrote in rundown_town,
Nessa ネッサ

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Wake Up, Community!

I had to share this town...

Brownsville, PA sits on the National Road and has a beautiful historic downtown. It was once very bustling. However, due to a number of reasons, nearly all of the buildings are vacant. Despite this, there are efforts to maintain the history and streetscape. Let's visit, shall we?

Looking up the street.

Downtown Brownsville
Looking down the street.

Kart's has been closed for a while.

Towne House
Towne House Hotel.

Union Station
Train station.

Towne House Hotel

Bush Furniture
Old Terrazzo for a long-gone furniture store.

Fiddle's (Edited)
This store is actually still open but was apparently closed for MLK Day when I was in town.


Travel with Jesus

The town sort of faces on the tracks/river as well, with a sidewalk running behind the buildings along the tracks. However it was SO icy that day, and I didn't have boots on so I didn't want to risk my neck.

Brownsville Flatiron Building
Brownsville restored and keep open a museum in this building, which was closed the day I visited.

Clicking on any of the photos will take you to my Flickr photostream where there are many more pictures of Brownsville.

That's all.. if anyone is still alive out there in the LJ-Ether.. hope you enjoyed it.
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Why did this town die?
Well, as I have heard it (bear in mind that I am by no means an expert on the situation)...

It goes back a long way, from when certain roads and rail-routes were routed away from Brownsville taking business with them.. but that's not the main reason...

There was a vote up for riverboat gambling. Somebody in town thought that the vote would pass and they could put casino riverboats right next to Brownsville, which runs along the river. They thought that the real estate would then be worth lots of money. So they bought up most of the buildings in town.

However, the riverboat gambling vote failed, and the new owners of the buildings had lots of real estate and nothing to do with it. From what I have heard, they have not maintained the buildings, nor have they allowed people to buy them or rent them to help maintain them. I heard they are basically holding the town hostage. I have heard there is a lawsuit in progress to gain back the buildings from these owners, however some of the buildings have already fallen to states where they would be difficult to restore, and some have already been demolished (their theatre being the most notable.)

Anyway, I'm not an expert, like I said, that's just what I've been able to ascertain from googling and talking to other people. Hopefully the town could possibly see a revival if the buildings were allowed to be used once more.
Wow, thanks for taking the time to take the pictures to share.
You're welcome, it's no problem, it's my hobby. :)
wow. so sad, all those blacked-over windows on main street. the buildings look in pretty good shape, too. i'll bet WalMart ate that downtown? or at least had something to do with it? sad...

thanks for showing!! this community needs more goodstuff!! yeah!

I don't think Wal*Mart helped the situation any, but as I posted above, a lot of it has to do with some issue about one group of people owning all the buildings and not letting anybody else utilize them.

For a mostly abandoned town, it's remarkably clean.

Thanks for posting!


Honestly, I don't think there's anyone around to dirty it up. Or maybe they just try to keep it tidy despite the lack of business. There is a ton of traffic down their main street (it's a main highway/road), so there was a lot of road dirt on the sidewalks from trucks and stuff roaring through at 50mph.. but not much trash at all.
Cool pictures! So eerie!!!
Thank you . :)
Wow, it's so odd seeing no people at all around. I'd get paranoid if I were walking around empty streets like that.
To be fair, there was plenty of traffic, I just waited for red lights to take my shots. I only saw one other person on the street though... walking to the still-open drug store.
Nice pics. I love the ghost signs!
Thank you. :)
This is amazing, it's like they banned shopping or something. The first shot is very emotional, I think it's because the street curves makes me nervous.

We just don't have towns like this in Australia- it's surreal for me to think that there are place like this in America, whole towns and neighbours that are empty.
Seen Detroit lately? Entire neighborhoods of a major American city are going feral.


8 years ago


8 years ago


8 years ago

Thanks for sharing the photos... I'm a 15 year resident of Brownsville... my 2 cents on its decay (in no particular order)

- it's been 50 years in the making
- now about 2000 residents, over 50% of the families below the poverty level
- closure of the mines and associated industries (in particular, barge making)
- apathy, sloth, despair
- an expectation that government will "fix it"
- land speculators Ernest and Marilyn Liggett (from Monroeville PA) who purchased over 120 properties since the 1990s
- political factions, non-profit factions and general inability to work together
- lack of resources and small business investment
- drug dealers, drug use, addiction and oppression
- closure of schools, churches and businesses (survival mentality)

Indeed, we are the backdoor of the rust belt and the front door of Appalachia
Thank you for your comments. It's good to have some perspective from the inside of this situation.

For what it's worth, whenever I go to a town and photograph it, I always try to visit/spend money at a local business on my trip, I definitely would have had lunch at the little diner, but it was a holiday and it was closed. It's not much, but I want to help the town economy even if it's just in a small way.

I think Brownsville is a beautiful little town, and I've visited a lot of them... it's very unique in terms of the shape of the main street and the way it grows with the surrounding river and hills. I'll definitely visit again. I'm hopeful for the future of this place even if things are really bad.. after all there is a lot of traffic.
These buildings are beautiful. So sad to see them inactive :/
Thank you. :)
These are wonderful.

The Christmas decorations are the final perfect touch.