Brave Thinkers

Illustration by Quickhoney

Name: John Fetterman
Job: Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania
Why he’s brave: He’s luring artists to a dying steel town.
Quote: “We’re not distressed. We’re experimental.”


Braddock, the site of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill, was once a beacon to immigrants. But it would be hard—maybe impossible—to find a city that’s worse off now: riddled with crime and violence, Braddock has lost 90 percent of its population and is on the brink of total abandonment. Fetterman, a young and heavily tattooed giant with a public-policy degree from Harvard and a mountain of ambition, wants to save the city by luring artists and small businesses with loft apartments, cheap rent, and other inducements. He imagines Braddock—only a few miles from Pittsburgh—as a community for creative types and eco-friendly businesses, filled with public gardens and culture centers. It’s an utterly idealistic experiment in extreme urban renewal with next to zero financial backing—one that could totally fail, or perhaps serve as a model for other devastated industrial towns.

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