In 2011, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania went bankrupt. Municipally bankrupt. The city is broke, tapped, in penury, scraping by on nada. Personal bankruptcy is tragic, and corporate bankruptcy is financially significant, but there is something especially pitiful about municipal bankruptcies. An entire city of thousands, whose leadership has failed them. It's like watching a scrappy but flailing football team losing in a particularly bloody way.

When it comes to Pitiful Bankrupt Municipal Messes, Harrisburg is working to establish a new, lower floor. As a great author once wrote, more or less, in an effort to help writing-blocked journalists of the future: Happy cities are all alike; every unhappy city is unhappy in its own way. Harrisburg is unhappy in the "our streets are riddled with sinkholes that we cannot afford to repair, rendering our entire landscape a veritable moonscape of nature's trap doors." The WSJ reports:

Harrisburg officials have identified at least 40 other sinkholes around the 50,000-person city. The combination of particularly sandy soil and leaky pipes under Harrisburg's streets make it susceptible to sinkholes, city officials say... It would cost almost half of the city's $50 million budget to permanently fix them, a city engineer estimates.

Harrisburg is bankrupt because it spent over $300 million on trash incinerator, btw.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other whooaaaa [Falls in sinkhole]." -Winston Churchill

[WSJ. Photo: urbanfeel/ Flickr]