The hum of a thriving industrial town is heard not just in the white noise of heavy machinery providing the background music to everyday life, but it is also in the buzz of the people, the businesses they set up, the sports teams they play in, the schools their children go to and the streets they fill.
But when industry declines what becomes of the towns? Trump’s promises to peel back green legislation suggest a possible revival of the coal industry in the United States, but will the formerly booming coal-mining towns ever recapture their sparkle?
In a recent trip to former mining towns in Illinois – the state where coal was first discovered along what would become the Ilinois River – Peter van Agtmael took a portrait of an area not only at the center of this debate but is symbolic of the current political climate in the United States. The photo essay originally appeared as “Burn Out” in Pacific Standard, our editorial partner for this project and whose July 2017 issue is a collaboration with Magnum Photos.
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