Passage #274: 8 November 2014
Edge of Oblivion
In the summer of 2012, San Bernardino filed for protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. At the time, it was the largest city to have ever done so. Though the recent global economic crisis exacerbated its problems, San Bernardino had actually been in decline since the 80s. It was dealt an especially serious blow in 1994 with the closure of Norton Air Force Base -- a loss of 10,000 jobs from the area.
Today, the city struggles on. Location, mixed with desperation, has made it an attractive site for vast fulfillment centers: Kohl's, Mattel, and most recently Amazon. But the adult unemployment rate nonetheless remains over fifteen percent. Many commercial buildings stand vacant. It is by no means a ghost town, but with so many idle hands and spaces, an eerie stillness pervades many parts of the city. Even the fulfillment warehouse sit like silent monuments in the landscape.
This week, as announced previously, we will be traveling by train to explore new territory. We will head out to San Bernardino, in Empire's inland abode, and visit some of its places that fall on one side or the other of oblivion. Some are shells, some are scars, and some are wide open spaces, ready to be occupied by some new, massive venture conjured forth.