S: Rush City: A Disappearing Community
1: Rush City: A Disappearing Community Photos and Text by Deborah H. Weinstein | Copyright 2012 Deborah H. Weinstein
2: Tucked away in an isolated pocket of East St. Louis, Illinois, next to the Mississippi River and in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, is a rural-looking neighborhood known as Rush City. Lured by industries such as chemical companies and meat packers, the 20th century saw blacks migrating north from Mississippi in search of work. Rush City was the only area in East St. Louis open to them. Eventually, 5 to 6 thousand people made Rush City home. As whites fled from East St. Louis, Rush City residents were able to move into the other neighborhoods.
4: Rush City is surrounded by elevated railroads and the clamor of ever-running trains.
5: Its next-door neighbors are the industrial plants of Sauget, Illinois.
6: Rush City was a self-contained neighborhood complete with its own churches, school, entertainment, recreation and stores. It was a community in every sense of the word. Corporations purchased tracts of Rush City land with plans to eventually expand industries into this area. Buyouts and relocation proposals are floated around the district every few years; nothing has come of them except more empty lots.
8: Burned out houses
9: Pollution from nearby industrial plants
10: A few churches remain open
12: As does a community center where residents and old neighbors gather
13: For Friday barbecue
14: Games of cards
15: And fellowship
16: Some residents have lived their entire lives on these streets
17: The family homes serve new generations
18: Hundreds still call Rush City "home" but, in fact, only about 60 people remain. Many former residents come back for weekly church services and yearly reunions. The fellowship and joy seen in these gatherings reflect the past when this neighborhood was a cherished community.
19: Rush City Reunion | August 28, 2010
24: East St.Louis is known as a crime-ridden area but even other East St. Louis residents avoid Rush City because of its allegedly high rate of drugs and murder. Rush City has become a type of myth where truth and exaggeration cannot be separated. Is it a place of community and family or overwhelming crime and danger? Maybe both.
26: Reports of bodies found in the empty fields are not uncommon, but nobody seems to know how they got there. Residents still claim this is a community of family, however, they are often afraid of their own neighbors.
28: Rush City plays a significant role in the history of East St. Louis, black America, the northern migration and the changing nature of industrial cities. Rumors of its total eradication have been premature but, at some future time, will become fact. It is a neighborhood with history that must be remembered.