Within the DC Comics universe, Metropolis is the fictional mega-city the place Clark Kent works as a reporter for The Each day Planet and, in his spare time, fights crime as Superman. In the actual world, Metropolis is a small city of about 6,500 individuals in southern Illinois, simply throughout the Ohio River from Kentucky.
The histories of the actual and imaginary cities converged in 1972, when DC Comics formally declared Metropolis, Illinois the “Home of Superman” and introduced plans to construct a $50 million “Amazing World of Superman” theme park—full with a 200-foot-tall statue of the Man of Metal. The theme park was by no means constructed, a casualty of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, which made highway journeys prohibitively costly for many Individuals.
As an alternative, the Illinois city—which was based in 1839, almost a century earlier than Motion Comics #1 launched the world to the person from Krypton—capitalized on its Superman connection by turning itself right into a tourism vacation spot for comedian ebook followers. The city is dotted with Superman-related sights, together with a 15-foot-high bronze Superman statue, a Lois Lane statue, and the Tremendous Museum and Present Retailer, which claims to personal variations of “virtually every Superman toy ever produced.” The city newspaper is even referred to as The Metropolis Planet.
The centerpiece of the city’s Superman tourism is the annual Superman Celebration, which pulls a number of thousand comedian ebook followers every year to Metropolis for 4 days of costume contests, film screenings, and superstar appearances. The pageant celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this month. “It feels like a small-town carnival,” says Los Angeles–based mostly photographer Lisa Guerriero, who has attended the pageant twice. “They have a wrestling match; they have Superboy and Supergirl contests for the kids.”
Guerriero says the pageant is a linchpin of the native economic system, which has been in decline ever for the reason that closure of the Kentucky coal and uranium mines that when employed a lot of its residents. Aside from the comedian ebook connection, Metropolis is just like many different small Midwestern cities hit onerous by deindustrialization: Though the city has a grocery retailer, residents should cross the Ohio River into Kentucky to see a health care provider or to do their different procuring. “There was a wave of people who left, but there are also people who stay,” she says. “I do a lot of photography in small towns in the Midwest, and what always interests me is how they survive.”
On her visits to the pageant, Guerriero met most of the world’s most hardcore Superman followers. Considered one of them, a mailman from Carbondale, Illinois, mentioned he’s been making an annual pilgrimage to Metropolis for 30 years. “He told me this was probably the last year,” the photographer says. “He’s 65 and doesn’t think it’s appropriate to dress up as Superman anymore.”