Just after 8 on a cloudy October morning, Cody Schultz is off to work, slicing through America’s definitive post-industrial squalor, a two-mile drive that weaves past a sad museum of abandoned homes and steel factories sprouting weedy windows and the broken doors of a lost past.

“Take a right instead of a left and you find yourself in some pretty nasty stuff,” he says.

In place of its former glories, Youngstown, Ohio, rolls out a catalog of luminescent pawn shops and nail salons and dark corners where the unbusy huddle in shadows. Schultz, 27, is just young enough, just idealistic enough to believe that what he does when he gets to work will someday change what he sees along his way.

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