As American towns become more politically segregated and judgmental, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?
WATERTOWN, N.Y.—Watertown, in a remote stretch of upstate New York known as the North Country, is an unforgiving place. In winter, the snow careens off Lake Ontario and entombs the town in installments of feet, not inches. The crows arrive around the same time, in whirling flocks, to roost along the Black River. There are so many of them that city contractors have to scare them off with fireworks and lasers, a confusing spectacle of cawing and light. By January, when the temperatures can drop below –10 degrees and the wind whips up, your eyelashes can freeze together before you reach your car.
When Watertown gets national attention, it is usually because of Fort Drum, the home of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The nearby base employs every third worker in Jefferson County and provides a welcome infusion of federal money and new families into town. President Donald Trump came here in August to sign a military-spending bill before a tableau of soldiers and weaponry.