At the end of the tracks

My job assisting at the unemployment office (run through the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments) centers me at the heart of some of Georgetown’s most needy. It’s hard to hear the stories of how countless people lost their jobs and have spouses and children to support. It’s made me more sensitive to the economic status of Georgetown. As a tourist destination, Georgetown has a beautiful historical downtown that’s kept in the best condition. As a mill town, Georgetown has two factories churning out steel wire and paper products but still can’t provide jobs for all its citizens. The steel mill will close by the end of the summer, the seasonal jobs will end, and my office will be flooded by people, according to my coworkers. There are hints all around town of Georgetown’s suffering, even if hidden behind our wide streets of live oak, red brick, and green grass. There’s so much beauty in Georgetown and its people, but there’s still so much need in our small community.

This slideshow of pictures I’ve taken on bike rides all over town is meant to reveal some of the different sides of Georgetown:

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1. The sun sets over the Food Lion at the north end of town – just down the road from our house. This parking lot is also the site where produce and other foods from the Lowcountry Food Bank are delivered every month for the hungry to come pick up. It’s a good indicator of the part of town we live in. Our street, North Congdon, is graced by the live oaks like many of the older neighborhoods, but our proximity to a business district, the public schools, and being on the paper mill side of town are all clues to being on the poorer end of Georgetown’s neighborhoods, though not the most hard-up by any means.

2. An oak-lined East Bay Street marks the most eastern edge of town, and the richest. These houses lie in the Historic District on the other end of Front Street.  Planters and traders would have lived here, a reminder of the days when Georgetown’s wealth came from rice and indigo, not steel and paper like it is now.

3, 4, 5. The paper mill stands at the western edge of town. It stays in production around the clock with twinkling lights on at night that are comforting to me. The next two pictures were taken at the railroad junction past the mill. It seemed abandoned when Liz and I biked there one afternoon. The tracks line one the poorest neighborhoods in town, revealing the huge disparity in wealth present in Georgetown. The railroad truly divides the town into different sides of the track.

6, 7. These are views of an abandoned contractor’s building right by town hall, in the heart of town. Signs that Georgetown is struggling are present everywhere, especially in all the empty storefronts in the downtown area. Front Street, the historical street right on the harbor is full of empty windows and an entire section of the street burned to the ground last year. Although the town is currently bustling with tourists, these empty buildings remind me how much ground Georgetown still has to cover.

– Annie

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