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Where Donald Trump is king: Inside the West Virginia steel town destroyed by Nafta – where 94% of jobs vanished

Published 01/11/2016

Scrap used to make steel lies on the ground outside the idled ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
Scrap used to make steel lies on the ground outside the idled ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: A large vessel used to form steel in the BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The view from inside an empty crane shows large hooks that carried ladels used to form steel in the BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant which sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: The BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: Thirty-Six year steel veteran and United Steelworkers local union 2911 president Mark Glyptis (L) looks over the idled BOP Caster at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, Glyptis holds out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
WEIRTON, WV - JUNE 27: Blast furnace "number one", used to heat materials to make steel, sits unused at the ArcelorMittal Weirton Steel Plant which sits idled on June 27, 2009 in Weirton, West Virginia. Although the steel plant in Weirton has been idled for over two years, local steel workers still hold out hope that it will eventually start back up. The Weirton plant was the first mill in the Ohio Valley to be idled and since it's closing the rest of the plants in the area have followed suit, halting almost all of the steel production in the area and leaving thousands of workers without jobs. The future is uncertain for steel towns of the Ohio Valley and other areas as demand for steel is the lowest it has been in roughly 70 years. Operating utilization at U.S. steel mills has dropped to levels not seen since the Depression. (Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images)

There was a time, not so long ago, when this city on the Ohio River employed up to 15,000 people in the steel mills whose rusting warehouses still line the streets. Now the figure is closer to 800.

First, it was costs associated with the repeated regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Then, after 1994 and the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) it was cheaper competition from places such as Mexico.

In the end, there was no way Weirton could compete, and an industry that has fed and clothed the city for generations essentially died.

“Her husband introduced Nafta,” said a former steel worker, sitting at the the bar of the Columbia Club, located at one was once Gate No 1 of the Weirton Steel Corporation’s main factory. He had worked at the plant for 34 years. “If anyone in this in this state votes for her, they’re crazy.”

It is communities such as this that Donald Trump has been targeting hard with his pitch about the evils of Nafta and the need to bring jobs – well-paid manufacturing jobs in particular – back to America. Polls collected by RealClearPolitics suggest he leads Hillary Clinton in West Virginia by between 18 to 27 points.

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While his policy is not hard on detail, Mr Trump has vowed repeatedly to bring jobs back from places such as Mexico and China.

When campaigning in Indiana he highlighted the Carrier air conditioner company, which had recently announced plans to relocate jobs south of the border, saying he would imposed a 30 per cent tariff on such products produced in Mexico.

He called Nafta “the single greatest jobs theft in the history of the world”.

Economists are divided about the actual impact of the deal, which was first negotiated by George H W Bush and signed by his successor, Bill Clinton.

America has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, but not all were lost because of Nafta.

Mr Trump also ignored other economic gains from Nafta. Exports to Mexico have risen tremendously, in part from Mexicans’ higher standard of living (because of Nafta). Today, exports to Mexico support six million US jobs.

But in places such as Weirton, down to fewer than 20,000 people from a peak of 33,000 it is hard not to feel that while some parts of the country may have seen the benefits of global trade, this hardscrabble community, with its fast-food joints and strip bars, has been passed by.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for photographs during an campaign event at Trump National Doral, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for photographs during an campaign event at Trump National Doral, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Ed Sutton, a city government worker who said he would be voting for Mr Trump, said that “nothing had replaced the steel jobs”. “They talk about creating all these jobs. But they’re just retail jobs that pay minimum wage, or just above,” he said.

Ms Clinton, meanwhile, said this spring, in a comment she came to quickly regret, she was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”.

The death of the steel industry had devastated not just the economy of the city, but had destroyed a sense of security and torn at the fabric that had maintained blue-collar communities for decades.

Jim Carey, who was also drinking the Columbia Club, grew up in the city but left to go to law school. Jobs at the mill had allowed a man to buy a house, build a small pool and send his children to college. Now, that had all gone.

“Nowadays, the best thing going for Weirton is that it is just 35 minutes from Pittsburgh airport,” said Mr Carey, who was planning to vote for Ms Clinton. 

The steel industry once utterly dominated Weirton, to the extent that it was known as one of the steel capitals of America. Weirton Steel was one of the biggest single private employer, and the largest tax payer in West Virginia.

When Michael Cimino was looking for locations for his 1978 film The Deer Hunter, staring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep and set in a fictional Pennsylvania steel town, Weirton was one of the places selected to film a number of scenes.

Harold “Bubba” Miller was elected mayor of Weirton last year. When he retired in 2000 he had been the mill’s sales manager. He said the mill was like a world within a world.

It employed doctors and lawyers, it plugged the streets when it snowed and it put up the lights for Christmas. Now, he is trying to create new jobs in the city, force the mill’s current owner, ArcelorMittal, to clean up and make safe the remaining factory sites.

Mr Miller said he also planned to vote for Mr Trump, and said many in Weirton found his message struck home.

“I would rather go for someone with an ego than someone who is a criminal,” he said. “I think he will win in West Virginia because of the attacks on mining and the steel industry. I think people are fed up with the rhetoric of Washington.”

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Not everyone is planning to vote for Mr Trump. Jodi Jo, who is studying to work as a beauty therapist, said she thought the New York tycoon was a bigot. “I’ll vote for for Hillary Clinton because I’m against Trump. He’s a racist,” she said.

Gus Monezis’ bakery has occupied a prime spot in Weirton for 81 years. He said the closure of the mills had ripped at the city, but that some of other businesses, such as his, had managed to survive. “The resilient ones are still here. I’m still here,” he said.

He said he had not yet made his mind up 100 per cent on who he would vote for. “I’m still watching,” he said. “But [Trump] is saying what people are thinking.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (R) speaks as Republican nominee Donald Trump looks on during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Former President Bill Clinton, right, speaks to his daughter Chelsea Clinton, left, before the third presidential debate at University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the third and final US presidential debate with Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Mark Ralston-Pool/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Members of the media watch the third U.S. presidential debate with republican presidential nominee Donald Trump democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the media center the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final US presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during the third and final US presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final US presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is seen speaking on a TV screen during the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves on arrive for the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final US presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand outside the Thomas & Mack Center ahead of the third presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: (L-R) Ivanka Trump, Tiffany Trump and Malania Trump arrive before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump is greeted by Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump shakes hands with former presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa Trump wait for the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Ivanka Trump waits for the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Eric Trump speaks with his wife Lara Yunaska before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Ivanka Trump waits for the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Melania Trump arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Co-chairs for the Commission on Presidential Debates, Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. (R), and Michael D. McCurry (L) speak prior to the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Melania Trump are seen before the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton and rival Donald Trump face off in their last presidential debate on October 19, with the Republican candidate spiraling downward amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wild charges of a "rigged" US election. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / joe raedleJOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Guest and attendees wait for the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Guests and attendees wait for the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump adjusts the microphone during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace speaks to the guests and attendees during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton speak to guests before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd as she walks on the stage during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A television cameraman tests his equipment prior to showtime at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, where the final debate between US presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will be held October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDSPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (C) arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen arrive prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The Reverend Jesse Jackson arrives for the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen are seen before the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton and rival Donald Trump face off in their last presidential debate on October 19, with the Republican candidate spiraling downward amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wild charges of a "rigged" US election. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / joe raedleJOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks with Jesse Jackason before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Donna Brazile (R) confers with US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (L), D-Nevada, prior to the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrives prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks with guests before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US entertainer Wayne Newton and wife Kathleen McCrone attend the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public arrive for the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton and rival Donald Trump face off in their last presidential debate on October 19, with the Republican candidate spiraling downward amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wild charges of a "rigged" US election. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / joe raedleJOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand outside the Thomas & Mack Center ahead of the third presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A television cameraman tests his equipment prior to showtime at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, where the final debate between US presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will be held October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDSPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (C) arrives before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen arrive prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The Reverend Jesse Jackson arrives for the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen are seen before the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton and rival Donald Trump face off in their last presidential debate on October 19, with the Republican candidate spiraling downward amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wild charges of a "rigged" US election. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / joe raedleJOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks with Jesse Jackason before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Donna Brazile (R) confers with US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (L), D-Nevada, prior to the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrives prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks with guests before the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US entertainer Wayne Newton and wife Kathleen McCrone attend the third and final US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. RichardsPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public arrive for the final presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton and rival Donald Trump face off in their last presidential debate on October 19, with the Republican candidate spiraling downward amid allegations of sexual misconduct and wild charges of a "rigged" US election. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / joe raedleJOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images

Sean Aldstadt has owned the Columbia Club for nine years and keeps photographs on the wall of the establishment many decades ago when it was at the centre of a thriving, industrial hub. He used to open early in the morning so people coming off the night shift could get a drink. He has since pushed that back.

“There are still people who come in here,” he said. “I tell them that if you had turned around where you are now standing, you would have seen everything going on in front of you.”

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From Belfast Telegraph