Since the 1980's Martinsburg has experienced growth in population, mostly through the decade of the 90's. Though there "are" jobs in Martinsburg, the wages do not, nor have not met with standard living expenses.
The average household income, less the early bird Dulles to DC workers average less than 30k gross per year. You average home cost in Berkeley is north of $225k.
Prior to the 1980's Martinsburg was a prosperous place to live, "Boom Town" as it was once known. From Corning to DuPont families could raise their children in a low crime, modest cost, town with a well paid job. It was a Mayberry lite, with DC down the road.
Since the 80's and most notable after Clinton's NAFTA, Martinsburg along with most "manufacturing" towns saw their wealth disappear. As the mills off Porter avenue to Royce Hosery we lost our textile, from the closing of DuPont, Corning, Dixie Narco etc., we lost our manufacturing base.
The 90's brought two things to Martinsburg and it was not jobs. With Gaston Caperton along with the help of Sen. Robert KKK Byrd, the Metro Rail was back to the round house. Route 9 saw expansion of a dual highway providing a Charles Town By-Pass. Did the jobs come, well yes some did like Quad etc., but not with the benefits nor salary of the Corning's.
The other jobs that came were in the realm of construction as developer galore plowed the once vibrant orchards and replaced it with nail gun specials in a land of no zoning and good ole' boy negotiations (
) Of course with the housing bubble, those jobs are disappearing.
Other items: Downtown. The decline in incomes along with the influx of Washington DC, has also brought decay to downtown Martinsburg and the east side. Crime has doubled, walking alone on Queen Street is not the safest idea. Stores have closed, deli's have gone out of business, even St. Johns Lutheran Church has a bolt locked access code door for safety.
Martinsburg is not what it once was, then again neither are many other towns in America, but one thing that Martinsburg is lacking which is free of income, free of employment, and free of material is Pride.
I was in another small town this week, Monday listed on this thread. Bowling Green, KY. Downtown with clean streets, old buildings being re-furbished, new shopping, a new Harley store, etc., Elderly folks walking down main without being hassled by thugs, basically town Pride.
I can see points made by Three Run and I can also agree strongly with Katie.
I lived in Martinsburg for close to 30 years. Four generations of my family lived there before me and a few still do. What was once Boom Town is now at a cross road, but without regaining it's pride Bust Town may be the new song of the city.
For reference: There was an old story as to why the Rt 9 corridor was created. In the 80's Sen. KKK Byrd bought a nice home in the Woods Resort, he did not like being held up on the old country road to his get a way, thus the road. As with the jobs, Pork Barrel Bob has come through on that end with some lower G pay rated government specials.