Excellent photographic essay! I lived in St. Louis from 1995–2011, and in 1999, on the way back from a visit to Louisville, KY (a lovely city), we drove through Kentucky to visit Mammoth Cave N.P. and spent a night in Bowling Green before heading over to pay Cairo a visit. Like you, we were shocked to discover the empty downtown, which now looks even sadder than it did 18 years ago. The “Historic Downtown Cairo” sign was obviously a well-meaning attempt to try and spark some kind of revival that never caught on.