Ode to Cairo

The ghost town of Illinois

Exclusive to MeierMovies, January 1, 2024

While traveling over the Christmas holiday, I drove through Cairo, Illinois, America’s saddest city. Once a town of beauty and prosperity numbering 15,000, Cairo has shrunk to just 1,500, becoming the poster child for urban decay in a medium-sized burg. Most of the historic downtown is not derelict anymore. It’s simply gone, replaced by fields, teasing us to imagine what it looked like. And massive weed-like plants, like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, engulf whole houses.

If you’re traveling through southern Illinois, you should drop in, just to witness this post-apocalyptic hellscape created not by bombs, fires, floods or tornados, but by changing economics, race riots and, above all, the march of time, which has forgotten Cairo. Remarkably, someone continues to drape Christmas decorations each year on the downtown street lights – broken lampposts illuminating ghosts.

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For more information on Cairo, visit Wikipedia and AtlasObscura.com.

Cairo …. before