The Historic Ghost Town of Cairo, Illinois

Abandoned buildings in Cairo, Illinois (Image: Photolitherland. Abandoned buildings in Cairo, Illinois)

Cairo, Illinois was once a bustling city. Situated near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the settlement symbolised hope and safety for countless people. But today, many of its historic buildings are boarded up. According to Roadtrippers, this near ghost town has been an unfortunate victim of circumstance.

Abandoned buildings in downtown Cairo, Illinois, a ghost town of its former self.

(Images: hickory hardscrabble; MuZemike)

Cairo’s rapid decline is partially due to the reduction in riverboat traffic over the decades. When its prime location at the confluence of the rivers was no longer as important, the city itself was no longer as viable. But there’s a darker side to Cairo’s history, too, that’s bound up in racial tension and violence.

(Images: MuZemike; hickory hardscrabble)

At the end of the 19th century, the settlement became something of an destination for those fleeing the slavery of the south. But when they arrived, former slaves found the reality of the northern city wasn’t entirely what they’d imagined. Lynchings were common, and racial violence, protests and other conflicts increased in frequency.

(Image: Drowsy; MuZemike)

At its peak in 1920 Cairo, Illinois was home to more than 15,000 people. Today, less than 3,000 live in the town. Work is now underway to not only save and restore the abandoned buildings that make up much of Cairo’s historic downtown, but also to revitalise the city more broadly.

(Images: MuZemike 1, 2)

Read Next: Aesthetic Decay in Val-Jalbert Ghost Town, Quebec



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