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Thunder Road, a club along Highway 3 near Brooklyn - November 2007.

Brooklyn, Illinois
The first real town along Highway 3 northbound is tiny Brooklyn, Illinois -- St. Louis's own micro-scaled Sin City.

The nightclub strip by night - November 2007.

Burned FantasyLand nightclub - November 2007.

Chicken in a Box and much much more! November 2007.

Brooklyn is marked by collection of strip clubs clustered along the highway, which bring in a fair bit of business despite (and perhaps because of) their isolation.

Three clubs have been destroyed in two separate fires since 2006.

West from Highway 3 into Brooklyn - November 2007.

November 2007.

The knot of nightclubs forms an odd contrast with the industrial wastelands around them... and an even more strange contrast with the town itself. For, stepping away from the highway, one finds that Brooklyn's just an ordinary little town. A bit run down, not much to recommend it architecturally, but the bizarre world of the nightclubs ends by the highway.

Two of the town's several churches (I counted 4; other reports put the total at 11), in fact, are pressed right up against the back side of the nightclub strip.

November 2007.

November 2007.

The rest of Brooklyn is just modest frame homes and trailers. Like all of inner Metro East, it's built on land land that's utterly flat, the flood plain of the nearby river -- the Mississippie Bottoms. There's a strong correlation between the levels of prosperity and the elevation above flood stage.

This unassuming little village, however, has an unusual history. It dates back to pre-Civil War days, platted in 1830 and founded by a group of blacks who had escaped from pro-slavery Missouri across the river. Incorporating in 1874, it long served as a haven for blacks who could not find housing elsewhere, particularly as blacks streamed north in search of work in the area's emerging industries.

As blacks assumed political control, whites fled, making the town nearly 100% black. It remains so today, though the population overall has declined sharply in the last two decades.

- America's First Black Town: Brooklyn Illinois at books.google.com
- Adult industry gives thousands back to tiny Brooklyn, IL - Post-Dispatch article reproduced on a message board.
- Fire Rages at Brooklyn, Illinois Nightclub

Antioch M.B.C. - November 2007.

Lincoln High School by night - November 2007.

The town ends abruptly on its northern edge, cut off by a rail line and empty fields. Poltically, the next town north, Venice, begins here, directly abutting Brooklyn's northern edge. Lincoln School and Antioch Missionary Baptist Church mark the location. Fuctionally, however, they're part of Brooklyn.

Highway 3 makes an abrupt turn there as well, doubtless throwing many unweary drivers off course till they can get turned around.

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