Tag Archives: Elkhart

Elkhart, Indiana: A Tale of Two Cities

Bucolic Elkhart RiverSlow pace of life in ElkhartThe popular River WalkLunch time at the Daily GrindHistoric buildings on Main StreetOwner of Dicor, an RV industry supplierTina and Tina, two unemployed womenMonica, an unemployed mother of fourElkhart mayor Dick Moore  Boarded up houses, a familiar sightA casualty on Main StreetVacancy on Main StreetA local food pantryStocking shelves at the food pantryKaren, a victim of foreclosureOwner of Pop Culture, a soda pop store on Main Street

During this seemingly endless recession, few cities have been hit as hard as Elkhart, Indiana. With a local economy dependent on the whims of the RV industry, the recent downturn saw unemployment hit a whopping 20 percent. Thankfully, things have improved over the past year, but people are still suffering.  In September, I was sent to Elkhart with a writer from the Paris-based newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur to document how people are coping with the devastating effects of the recession.  What we found were two very different Elkharts.  The first was the upbeat, optimistic, rose-colored version of life portrayed by the business leaders, politicians and Chamber of Commerce spokespersons.  The second Elkhart was a sad and painful depiction expressed by local residents in a food pantry, unemployment office, and on the quiet streets of this once-prosperous town.  The “real” Elkhart apparently resides in the eye of the beholder.