Monday, September 29, 2008

Breaking and Entering: Gary, Ind.

I learned two things this weekend. The first is that Gary, Indiana is, indeed, what is appears to be from the highway - a crumbling shell of a city. The second is that tromping through a falling-down city feels a lot different than tromping through the falling-down country.

Ogling an old barn feels like poking through somebody's trash - point and stare all you want, they're long gone. Ogling Gary, on the other hand, felt like throwing rocks at a cripple.

Gary, Wikipedia tells me, was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as a home for its new plant. It was named after Elbert H. Gary, the company's chairman. Here's Elbert now, perched smugly in front of City Hall, one of the only kept-up building for blocks. Don't look left, Elbert. It ain't pretty.

Elbert's old digs are still up and running - turn left at the highway off-ramp and you run smack into a wall of border-like U.S. Steel security - but since the '60s, the plant has gotten by with fewer and fewer workers. Folks lost their jobs and left, or lost their jobs and stayed. Most left. Nearly 180,000 people lived in Gary in 1960; it's about half that today. Eighty-four percent are black.

Downtown is a long stretch of once-upon-a-time barbershops and department stores sporting optimistic fonts from decades past.

Off the main drag are block after block of squat brick houses and a few burned-out apartment buildings. There aren't a lot of street signs.

Gary is the hometown of the Jackson family, hence this sad promise on the marquee of the Palace Theatre, which shut down in 1972.

Here are more sights from around town:

Train station, we think

Inside the train station

Gutted motel sign

Gutted motel

Shores of Lake Michigan, with smokestacks

Gas station

5 comments:

Eden From Sweden said...

Has a psychiatrist ever explained why you enjoy broken things so much?

You're hard core, woman.

Tim said...

This is sad as hell. Is it true that Gary smells like a Frenchman after running a marathon?

duder said...

post more photos plz

bonjondoo said...

dude you should write something again in here. I should not write such broken sentences.

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