I drive through Gary once a week on my way to Chicago. Since I am intrigued by what makes and breaks a city, Gary has especially interested me. The backbone of Gary is dirty industry – an oil refinery and U.S. Steel among some smaller industries. The main problem with Gary is that these industries consume all of the prime land along the lake. In recent years some casinos have been built and have brightened the shore, but do not seem to have done much for the local economy. Honestly, large areas need razed and rebuilt. Yet, it is not difficult to find some very intriguing architecture spread throughout the city reflective of a better day. There are areas that could be incredibly quaint, but they are mostly boarded up. Crime, low income, dirty industry, bad politics among other issues have all created a very depressing community. Even the airport seems depressed – I hardly ever see an airplane land or take off (and there are hopes of making it the third regional airport for Chicagoland! Yea, right.) I honestly think the first step to recovery would be a federal grant for bulldozing several acres of dilapidated buildings in the area near downtown or along I-65. Gary is strategically situated to Chicago, Lake Michigan, and interstates 65, 80, 90, and 94 so the infrastructure is largely in place. The truth of the matter, however, is that Gary’s problems are larger than the city. I believe that the entire region including Chicago southside, Hammond, East Chicago, etc. is plagued by many of the same problems. While each community could take steps to improve their situation as long as the lakeshore is polluted with dirty industry I do not see many changes taking place. So, I guess I would conclude that improvement should focus on the lakeshore.over 5 years ago
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Drove with a friend to Gary to shoot abandoned, decrepit buildings. Was not disappointed. For every 1 inhabited structure (a house or shop), there’s 8-10 ones that are disintegrating before your very eyes …well not right that second. But you know what I mean.over 5 years ago
an excerpt from a trip account:
The bright orange flames twisted from the black smokestacks in the murky night. City-sized factories climbed above the horizon. Rusted trees of metal rose into the midnight sky. My hometown.
The bus rolled to the station where my sister & dad had waited. Roughly 90% of the building & houses we passed dowtown were boarded up. Entire streets & strip malls had been abandoned, yet the still vibrant & colorful signs hung above the gutted & vacant shops. A surreal quality hung about, as though the people of the world had suddenly vanished, leaving the streets as they were.
Little had changed in my childhood neighborhood. The cartoon Indian still smiled his big toothy grin above Calumet High School were I was knocked around for four wonderful years. Bernie still drove his stupid truck around the streets at 5 MPH, to leer at the 13 year old girls…over 5 years ago
I remember visiting our family in the south (Atlanta and Virginia) and BEGGING my parents if we could move. Well, it never happened, but once I became an adult, I moved and have not looked back. Gary will always be home, as long as I have family and friends there I will visit. It’s funny, but once you are away, you really realize how sad and depressing the place really is. I really WISH that things were different because it has potential to be a great city due to its AWESOME location. It’s on the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan and a stone’s throw from one of the best places on earth, Chicago. If through some miracle Gary blossomed into a great city, I would run back home, but until that day comes, I wiil stick to southern living.over 5 years ago
Dont go out at night, if you do make sure you know what part of town you are in. Roll through all stop signs, do NOT park your car at the rail station and leave as soon as possible. It is possible to live there but there are so many other cities where one could live and not have the stress of surviving from day to day.over 6 years ago
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