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Thread: Gary, Indiana

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!

    Gary, Indiana

    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.

    City Hall.

    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.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Yes, we're still in Gary. I imagine these are owned by steelworks workers. There are still good jobs to be had in Gary, there just isn't enough of them.

    It looks like this building got lost on its way to Chicago.

    This is the CSX viaduct over Virginia Street on which I stood to take the following pictures of the steelworks.

    Under the Indiana Tollway on Virginia Street.

    For full-sized images, go here: http://neighborhoods.hafd.org/gallery/Gary_IN

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    Very cool collection.

    I've been wanting to explore Gary, just haven't gotten around to it.

    I appears that Gary, IN and Flint, MI are twins separated at birth. They are both about the same size, had/have a (basically) mono-industrial job base, and are now predominently derelict.

    Gary, at least, has good proximity to Lake Michigan and Chicago, whereas Flint is just simply pointless (I say that with complete confidence in my opinion)
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries

    Govt. Intervention

    Gary would benefit from about a Billion dollar infusion of Fed. Govt. funds for use in Condemnation/Redevelopment and Economic Development....I see huge tax breaks for 10 years and the promise of ultra cheap housing and a police force doubled in size overnight as partial solutions....Beautification by Bulldozer is the other part of the equation with Economic Impact Zone by local government to encourage big deals with Tech. industries. All of the Billion bucks should be given to the City or some special redevelopment agency monitored by the Governor's office....How's that sound Gary Planners...? Are there any Gary planners reading this.....(add sound effect of echo off canyon walls... )
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    You should see the numerous articles on how Gary Airport could help relieve the congestion at O'Hare and the related economic potential.

    Google, News: Gary Airport
    Last edited by JNA; 06 Aug 2004 at 11:12 AM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!
    The lake really isn't an asset to Gary because US Steel takes up the entire lakeshore. I got as close to the steelworks without being noticed by the security personnel (I was taking pictures B-) ) and I got no sense at all that there was a lake nearby.

    Suppose they shut the steelworks down, demolished and superfunded the whole thing, and restored the dunes. Gary could turn into something like Ogden Dunes: yet another bedroom community for wealthy Chicagoans, but what would be the point? It's not like there isn't already enough of those. And it won't be the same people living there as who live there now.

    Gary needs jobs, there's no way around that. If the industrial jobs aren't coming back, then they need some other sort of job. Gary and Flint (and their residents) are the refuse cast off by the "global, knowledge economy."

    JNA --- I've seen stuff about the Gary airport, and I think it's a good idea, but they'll have to work on the connection between the South Shore and the airport. Currently the "Gary Airport" stop appears to be out in the middle of nowhere with no airport to be found nearby.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Big Easy King's avatar
    Jul 2003
    Overlooking the Quarter
    The photos show a very compelling depiction of Gary's plight.

  8. #8
    My family comes from just south of there in the Crown Point/Merrillville area. If fact, my grandfather and uncle used to work at US Steel. My most vivid memories of the place is going there with my grandfather to pick up his check at the mills. My impression, at the time, was it looked like they had a war there that nobody had won.

    Gary's problem are multitude. It's polluted, crime-ridden and decaying. The sad part of this, was it's fallen apart within the past 30 years. My aunt used to go there to pick up eith the bus or the train into Chicago. Doing that now is suicidal. You are right when you state that essentially everyone who could move out, has. You also must look at the surrounding area. Gary is next to the southside of Chicago, which isn't much better. It's also next to Burns Habor, Whiting, Michigan City and Hammond. None of this helps.

    There are several problems with redeveloping it. First, it is a de-facto brownfield in a swamp. The clean-up costs are probably astronomical. It has a horrible reputation and almost no one goes there, except to go gambling at the casinos. It also has nowhere to go. It's surrounded on all sides by city.

    As for possible solutions, it will take better minds than ours. I feel for the city and it's residents. I hope they can come up with a solution.

  9. #9
    Mod Gedunker's avatar
    Aug 2003
    The Wonderland Way
    I though for a minute I was back in the Chernobyl thread Gary's plight is indeed sad -- laid on top of it is a political corruption that is rotten to the core.

    And down here in the southern part of the state, we'd gladly sign the deed to Lake County over to Illinois. Those b@ast@rds are the ones that complained about the state's archaic property taxing system and that resulted in my property taxes jumping a full 66%.
    Not valid without corporate seal

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Man With a Plan's avatar
    Jul 2004
    Arlington, VA
    yeah - looks run down, but you Gotta give it to the clouds on boards!!! Yeah!!! Clouds on Boards!!!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Emerald Coast
    Geez, burst my bubble....Gary sounded like such a great place in "The Music Man."
    Habitual Offender

  12. #12

    Jul 2002
    Chicago, IL
    Just so you know there's a silver lining to every cloud...

    The Miller Beach neighborhood on the far east edge of Gary is a beautiful beach community of about 3,000 residents that is as far from the 'hood as can be. It is the only part of Gary that has access to Lake Michigan, and it has a gorgeous park and beach. Miller grew as an old resort town on the South Shore rail line and was annexed by the City of Gary in the '20s.

  13. #13
    Mar 2004
    suburban hell
    Thanks for sharing pics of Gary, I haven't seen the neighborhood since the days of the website Urban Decay. I wonder how they manage to get decent crowds for there baseball and basketball teams. It's a shame that these buildings aren't being used, because some are beautiful.

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