I decided to get out of the city last weekend so I took a trip to Indiana. I visited Gary, South Bend, and the Indiana Dunes, so I'll break it into three parts. With Gary being the first.
Gary is a hard-luck town. There's really no way sugar coat it. But as a poster-boy of industrial decline in America, it's quite revealing. Libertarians argue that the decline of industry is simply due to productivity improvements that makes industry a more marginal part of our economy. He's partially right. Fact is that American industry has been modernizing much more slowly than European or Japanese industry. Probably because they don't want to invest capital money into facilities that they intend to abandon when they outsource to China.
But Gary's problem is the one described by libertarians. Gary was plotted by United States Steel as a company town in 1906. At the time, all the roads led to the entrances to the steel works built along the lake. Possibly due to its name, and possibly due to the steel tariffs, US Steel has consistently decided to upgrade its Gary works rather than move elsewhere. Of course all of those productivity improvements mean that the plant now produces more steel with a fraction of the number of workers as when it opened, and that's bad news for Gary.
That's not Gary's only problem though. The city also suffered from a great deal of white-flight. Meaning that many of the few jobs available are now being held by suburbanites, who are not contributing to the city.
This convention center came along in 1985. It was supposed to "turn Gary around" and predictably failed to do so. The Miss America pageant is held here though. A suitably superficial event for such a superficial project, I suppose.
I met a guy in South Bend while waiting for a bus who was from Gary. I made the mistake of saying I was just there because then I had to make up something nice to say about it. I said "It seems like it's getting better, but it's a shame that the convention center didn't do more for it." He said "Yeah, but that baseball field is really going to turn things around." Yeah. A baseball park is going to fix Gary. Gary doesn't need baseball. It needs some ****ing jobs, and they're gone for good.
Anyway, without further ado, I give you: Gary, Indiana:
The train in the station.
Looking northwest from the train platform.
Looking east along the South Shore tracks.
The Indiana Toll Road with the Gary Steelworks in the background.
The Genesis Convention Center built in 1985 to revive Gary.
This and the next eleven were all taken along Broadway Avenue walking south from the train station.
The clouds on the boards make it look better but...
Then it gets weird. Windows looking in on warm, inviting shops painted onto the boards on the derelict storefronts!
Better get on that sale.
These next few are the backs of buildings facing Broadway from across some parking lots.
On the wall of a building along Broadway.
Looking east down 5th Avenue from Broadway.
Looking south down Massachusetts St. from 5th Avenue.
Gary Public Transit District.
You know things are bad when the liquor store is boarded up.
All of these neighborhood pictures were taken in the vicinity of Buffington Park.