illinois Digital News

I drove through a sad, depressing small Illinois city. This is it.


Wow we saw some real ghettos! What a terrible place this small midwestern city has become.

In this video, I wanted to tour a dying small city in the midwest. Somewhere most people hadn’t heard of. So I took I-74 east from Missouri and pulled into the city of Danville, Illinois, which is representative of many small cities in the midwest which has suffered, and fallen on hard times.

I pulled into Danville Illinois on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at about 1pm.

There are many smallish beat up crime ridden and depressing towns in Illinois just like Danville. Located along the eastern side of the state, Danville, population 33,000, was once a major coal mining hub, up until around 1950. It was the kind of place where they had proud parades on Main Street, and where civic leaders, astronauts and entertainers once made home.

But things have changed. Mining and manufacturing closures meant a decline in jobs, and the local economy suffered. Crime and drugs have blossomed. Pride has been erased.

Today, Danville is the cheapest place you can live in the state of Illinois, where homes sell for, on average, $65,000. The median income here is around $40,000 for a family of four. Property taxes are a headache here, where many people pay $300 a month for an average home. In fact, Illinois residents overall pay the second highest property taxes in the nation.

Illinois is also second in the nation for population decline – only behind the state of New York.

There’s been endless discussions on how to best try and bring back struggling small towns in the rural Midwest like Danville. But the fact is, people are being pushed out, either fed up with the crime or fed up with the lack of entertainment and cold winters.

Danville is representative of many other Illinois cities. Its mall has all but closed down, and many of the more successful residents have fled into nearby communities. Crime has risen, and blight has creeped into areas that were once considered nice.

One particular eyesore in Danville is the housing projects known far and wide – Fair Oaks. Managed by the Danville Housing Authority, Fair Oaks is a project on the city’s south side where residents pay as low as $25 a month to live in beat up rundown apartments. Fair Oaks has problems just about every night – and a lot of the city’s problems stem here. Many residents in Danville have friends and family from Chicago who make the two hour drive south, commit crimes, hide in Fair Oaks as cover, and then flee back to Chicago the next day.

We’ll pull into Fair Oaks now.

Gang activity is a big problem in Danville. When gunfire was once a retaliation among certain gang members, now, it’s not uncommon for random bullets to enter homes along nicer streets in town. A pizza man was gunned down for no apparent reason recently. 40 people were shot here last year alone, and there’s been a rise in robberies at gas stations/convenience stores, and food delivery drivers and random people have had their cars jacked in broad daylight.

Now, we’ll drive through more of some of Danville’s worst neighborhoods to give you some perspective on what it looks like.

This is Lincoln Park in the middle of town. Police regularly respond to gunfire in and around this part of town.

Danville’s not the worst place you could live in the state, but the blight and crime is slowly taking over this once proud city. It’s trying to improve. The city just approved plans for a massive casino which will be built on the south side of town near a large prison along the Indiana border. That will bring in a decent number of low wage jobs. But as people continue to move out of these small midwest cities and towns, no one knows what to expect in the years to come. Will these places die off faster? Who wants to move here and stimulate and grow places like these? Who can even envision what a recovery would look like?

This channel talks about America, different states, education, travel, geography and what it’s like to live in different places in America.

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