What is the Rust Belt?

Abandoned factories are an example of the urban decay in deindustrialized cities.

What is the Rust Belt?

The Rust Belt refers to a region of the United States that was once a critical and flourishing segment of the country's industrial sector, but has since experienced dramatic deindustrialization, economic decline, population decrease, and urban decay. This term became famous in the United States in the early 1980s.

Where is the Rust Belt?

The Rust Belt is a part of the United States that extends from the Great Lakes region to the upper Midwest states. It starts in western New York and crosses through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and up to the lower peninsula of Michigan. In the past, the area was commonly referred to as the industrial heartland of the United States. The Great Lakes region was once used for transportation, extraction, and the production of natural resources. Coal and steel industries flourished due to the availability of natural resources and access to transportation routes. The Rust Belt is commonly depicted by old factory centers and damaged industrial skylines.

Major Cities in the Rust Belt

One of the major cities in the Rust Belt is Chicago, Illinois. The city's close proximity to the American west, the Mississippi River, and Lake Michigan meant that the movement of people, products, and raw materials was easy. This led to the city becoming known as a major transportation center in the 20th century. Chicago mainly specialized in the production of cattle, lumber, and wheat products. A canal was later constructed in 1848 to connect the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Chicago grew to be one of the biggest railroad centers in North America and serves as a manufacturing center for freight and passenger railroad cars. Baltimore, Maryland is another major city in the Rust Belt region. It is located on the eastern shores of Chesapeake Bay. Maryland has the availability of rivers and inlets connecting to Chesapeake Bay. Having the longest waterfront, Maryland was significant in the production of metals and transportation equipment, such as ships. Other major cities in the rustbelt region include Buffalo, NY, Detroit, MI, and St. Louis, MO.


Cities in the Rust Belt region remain as the main centers of merchandise in the United States. Their past economic and industrial experience imbued them with a great diversity which led to success and cultural greatness for the United States.


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