As Pension Goes Broke, Bankruptcy Haunts City Near Philadelphia

Decade after decade, Chester, Pennsylvania, has fallen deeper and deeper into a downward financial spiral.

As the city’s population dwindled to half its mid-century peak, shuttered factories near the banks of the Delaware River were replaced by a prison and one of the nation’s largest trash incinerators. A Major League Soccer stadium and casino did little to turn around the predominantly Black city just outside Philadelphia, where 30% of its 33,000 residents live below the poverty line. Debt piled up. The government struggled to balance the books.

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