19 Eerie Photos That Put America's Problems In Plain Sight

19 Eerie Photos That Put America's Problems In Plain Sight
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Seeing an abandoned home can be a bit creepy. But seeing one that represents the decline of an entire way of life? That should elicit an even more solemn reaction.

Nineteen pictures of abandoned homes shared with The Huffington Post by photographer Seph Lawless offer just such a sobering look at many of America's rural communities. Earlier this year, Lawless published a book, Autopsy of America, that documented the decline of the U.S. economy in memorable portraits of abandoned malls and empty factories. His ongoing project, also called "Autopsy of America," aims to raise awareness of the struggles faced in the Deep South and Rust Belt regions.

"We hear about the crisis that plagues inner cities and urban areas but seldom hear about what's happening in southern cities and rural areas," Lawless told HuffPost in an email, pointing to struggles such as high unemployment and poverty. "It would surprise and disappoint most people."

Lawless said abandoned homes have a unique ability to evoke an emotional reaction in viewers, especially houses that have "a deep sense of void and depth." Many of the houses in his photos have the appearance of having been suddenly left behind, some with clothes still hanging up or books lying open.

"Everyone can relate to a home and I think a growing number of Americans fear losing their home," Lawless said, adding that he risked arrest to get some of the photos. "It's very frightening and sobering for most people to see."

In the photos below, you can see the location of each home and the approximate year it was abandoned:

Dayton, Ohio, 1998
Seph Lawless
At Dayton's peak, current Fortune 500 companies such as Mead Paper Company, Dayco and Phillips Industries called the city home. In 2009, NCR Corporation became the last major corporation to leave the struggling Ohio city.
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, 1982
Seph Lawless
Between the 1940s and 2010, McKeesport's population fell by more than half after the town's once-thriving manufacturing industry collapsed.
Madison, Ohio, 1994
Seph Lawless
Madison has officially been in a state of "fiscal caution" since 2012, according to the Ohio government.
Chester, Pennsylvania, 2007
Seph Lawless
The city of Chester was declared a "financially distressed municipality" in 1995.
Birmingham, Alabama, 2013
Seph Lawless
At 10.6 percent, Birmingham was ranked fourth in the nation among large cities to experience the greatest decline in population between 2002 and 2012.
Nova, Ohio, 2011
Seph Lawless
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1993
Seph Lawless
Clay City, Kentucky, 2002
Seph Lawless
Powell County, where Clay City is located, was recently ranked the 103rd worst county in the U.S. for quality of life by The New York Times.
Baltimore, Maryland, 2009
Seph Lawless
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2003
Seph Lawless
The portion of middle-class residents in Philadelphia fell from 59 percent in 1970 to 42 percent in 2010.
Buffalo, New York, 2004
Seph Lawless
Buffalo's median household income declined by 23 percent between 1970 and 2006.
Detroit, Michigan, 1972
Seph Lawless
Due to the vast amount of foreclosed homes, home prices in Detroit can be as little as $1,000.
Logan, West Virginia, 2007
Seph Lawless
Foreclosures became so common in Logan that last year a repo company actually repossessed the wrong home.
St. Louis, Missouri, 2012
Seph Lawless
St. Louis' unemployment rate peaked at over 10 percent during the Great Recession, and it's still a major problem for the city.
South Bend, Indiana, 2008
Seph Lawless
Home to Notre Dame University, South Bend has been struggling to recover ever since the former automobile company Studebaker closed its plant in 1963.
Brownsville, Pennsylvania, 1993
Seph Lawless
Once a thriving coal city, Brownsville is now known as a ghost town and "a legendary destination for those who document the rise and fall of the Rust Belt," said photographer Randy Fox.
East St. Louis, Illinois, 2007
Seph Lawless
East St. Louis has consistently been one of the towns with the highest unemployment rates in Illinois.
East Cleveland, Ohio, 2010
Seph Lawless
The median household income in Cleveland has declined by 36 percent between 1970 and 2006.
Atlanta, Georgia, 1999
Seph Lawless
Many are optimistic for the future of Atlanta but the city's housing market has struggled to recover.

For more of Lawless' work, check out his website or his social media accounts.

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