When Donald Trump took the oath of office on a gray January morning in 2017, he laid out his vision for the United States under his leadership. “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease,” he said. “A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.” Nearly four years later, the divide in how we view the consequences of his first term remains large. But the nation is undeniably changed. From family separation, to nation-wide protests and economic volatility, to a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, Trump will leave behind a legacy—whether he’s reelected or not. We are telling the stories of seven individuals living with the consequences of Trump’s first term. You can read the rest of the stories here.
In the late 1980s, Barbara Szalai moved to Springdale, Pennsylvania, a little borough along the Allegheny River, northeast of Pittsburgh. She was in her 50s, newly divorced, and looking for a place to live. Springdale made sense: She had been born in the region, and though she had moved away as a child, many of her family and friends still lived in the area. She wasn’t too concerned about living just upriver from the Cheswick Generating Station, its smokestacks periodically belching puffs of white steam into the air. But once she moved in, the plant began to loom large in her life. Sticky black dust blanketed her home and patio furniture. She repeatedly hosed down the exterior of her home and wiped down the furniture, but it wasn’t enough. “Wherever the rain doesn’t hit the surface of the house, there’s black soot,” she said. “It looks like ants.”