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Gary is a city in Lake Countymarker, Indianamarker, United Statesmarker. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan areamarker and is 25 miles from downtown Chicagomarker. The population was 102,746 at the 2000 census, making it the fifth largest city in the state. Gary was once the second largest city in Indiana, behind Indianapolismarker, a position now held by Fort Waynemarker. It borders Lake Michiganmarker and has large steel mills. One study rates it the second-most liberal city in the United States, behind Detroitmarker.


The city was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as the home for its new plant. The city was named after the chairman of U.S. Steel, Elbert H. Gary.

Among U.S. cities with a population of 100,000 or more, Gary has the highest percentage of African-American residents (as of the 2000 U.S. census). Gary had one of the nation's first African-American mayors, Richard G. Hatcher, and hosted the ground-breaking 1972 National Black Political Convention. At the same time, Gary suffered from many affluent and middle-class residents leaving Gary and relocating to the surrounding towns and cities. Because of the loss of jobs in the city, many people left the area altogether for regions with employment.

Gary's fortunes have risen and fallen with those of the steel industry. In the 1960s, like many other American urban centers, Gary entered a downward spiral of decline. Gary's decline was brought on by the growing competitiveness in the steel industry, which had caused U.S. Steel to layoff many workers from the Gary area. Crime increased, including use and trade in illegal drugs.

U.S. Steel continues to be a major steel producer, but with only a fraction of its former level of employment. While Gary has failed to reestablish a manufacturing base since its population peak, two casinos opened along the Gary lakeshore in the 1990s. Today, Gary faces numerous difficulties, including unemployment, major economic problems, and a high rate of crime, though the city has made some progress in addressing these issues since the 1990s.

Meredith Willson's 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man featured the song, Gary, Indiana, describing Gary Conservatory as the alleged alma mater of lead character Professor Harold Hill ("Gary Music Conservatory, Class of '05!"). The joke in Hill's claim, of course, is that the City of Gary wasn't founded until 1906. Wilson's musical, set in 1912, later was the basis of a film (1962) and a made-for-television film (2003).

Parts of the never-completed Chicago – New York Electric Air Line Railroad were built in the vicinity of Gary and used as interurban transport.

Recent history

Three-term Democratic Mayor Scott King resigned from office in March, 2006, citing a desire to return to private law practice. Then-deputy mayor and former Calumet Township Trustee Dozier T. Allen Jr. became acting mayor, pending a formal election by local Democratic party officials. On April 4, 2006, local officials chose former Lake County Commissioner and King rival Rudolph Clay to fill the remaining 21 months of King's term.

The Gary Chicago International Airportmarker has recently secured nearly 100 million dollars in grants and private donations. The FAA approved GYY's master plan which includes the expansion of runways, land acquistition for a larger terminal, an integrated transportation center, and provision for a third runway. The first part of the plan requires that the EJ&E line, which runs at the end of the runway, be relocated.

Gary was rated the 17th most dangerous city in the United States according to Morgan Quitno's 2007 analysis of crime rates (City Crime Rankings, 14th Edition), down from 10th highest in the 2006 edition. This is indicative of the progress Gary has made in reducing crime since the 1990s. The city recorded 51 homicides in 2006, a 13.5 percent decrease from the previous year. In 2007, Gary had 71 homicides — almost a 40 percent increase over 2006.

Dallasmarker-based HomeVestors of America released their "Top 10 Markets for Real Estate Investing" list on December 9, 2006. Gary earned the number one position on this list, which represents activity of investors who purchase homes below market and then sell. Also, Forbes Magazine recently listed Gary 39th on their Top 100 Best Cities for Jobs in 2008. The ranking was up from 89th in 2006 and 84th in 2007.

In March, 2008 the Chief of Police, Deputy Chief and a police sergeant were all indicted by the federal court for violating the civil rights of a Gary resident.

After celebrating its 100th year in 2006, the city of Gary finally shows evidence of rebound from years of economic depression. Many buildings that have been left vacant for years are now finally slated for demolition and development. Many new homes have been built through the HOPE VI grant from HUDmarker. In 2009, the old town section of the city, still littered with deteriorating buildings and roads which have not been occupied or used for three decades, was featured in episode 2 of The History Channel's series Life After People, as an example of how quickly Chicago might deteriorate after human beings had vanished off of Earth, thanks largely to the effects of Lake Michigan on steel and reinforced concrete structures.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 57.2 square miles (148.3 km²), of which, 50.2 square miles (130.1 km²) of it is land and 7.0 square miles (18.2 km²) of it (12.25%) is water. The city sits on the southern end of the former lake bed of the prehistoric Lake Chicago, and the current Lake Michiganmarker. Most of the city's soil nearly one foot below the surface is pure sand. The sand beneath Gary, and on its beaches, is of such high quality that in years past it was mined for the manufacture of glass.

Gary is "T" shaped, with its northern border on Lake Michiganmarker. At the Northwesternmost section Gary borders Hammondmarker and East Chicagomarker. Miller Beach, its easternmost neighborhood, borders Lake Stationmarker and Portagemarker. Gary's southernmost section borders Hobartmarker and Merrillvillemarker.


Aetna is located on Gary's far east side along the Dunes Highway. Aetna predates the city of Gary. It was a company town founded in 1881 by the Aetna Powder Works, an explosives company, which closed with the end of World War I. The Town of Aetna was annexed in 1928 around the same time Gary annexed the Town of Miller. A building boom happened shortly afterward in the late 1920s and early 1930s making Aetna home to an impressive collection of art deco architecture. The rest of the community was built through out the 1950s after the Korean War in a series of phases. The eastern edge of Aetna is marked by wilderness and borders Miller Beach and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshoremarker.

Ambridge is located on Gary's near west side along 5th Avenue. Ambridge was developed for workers at the nearby steel plant in the 1910s and 1920s, and is named after the American Bridge Works, which was a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. The neighborhood is home to a huge stock of prairie style and art deco homes. The Gary Masonic Temple is located in the neighborhood along with the Ambassador Apartment building. Located just south of Interstate 90, the neighborhood can be seen while passing Buchanan Street.

Black Oak is located on the far southwest side of Gary, in the vicinity of the Burr Street exit to the Borman Expressway. It was annexed in the 1970s. Prior to that, Black Oak was associated with Hammondmarker, and the area has Hammond telephone numbers. The community was convinced by Mayor Hatcher that its residents would benefit from better services, provided by the city, than those provided by the county.

Brunswick is located on Gary's far west side. The neighborhood is located just south of Interstate 90 and can be seen from the expressway. The Brunswick area includes the old Tri-City Plaza shopping center on West 5th Avenue (U.S. 20). The area is south of the Gary Chicago International Airportmarker.

Concord is located on westside of Gary located between Burr st. and Clark Road. it's one of the smaller neighborhoods in the city.
Interstate 90 divides downtown Gary from the United States Steel Plant. Downtown Gary was developed in the 1920s and houses several pieces of impressive architecture, including several structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. A new office building was constructed in the downtown in recent years, as was a new baseball stadium for the Gary SouthShore RailCats. A significant number of older structures have been demolished in recent years, but a number of abandoned buildings remain in the downtown area, including historic structures like Gary's Union Stationmarker and City Methodist Church.

Glen Park is located on Gary's south side, made up mostly of mid-twentieth century houses. Glen Park is divided from the remainder of the city by the Borman Expressway. The northern portion of Glen Park is home to Gary's Gleason Park Golf Course and the campus of Indiana University Northwestmarker. The far western portion of Glen Park is home to the Village Shopping Center.

Glen Ryan is a subdivision located on Gary's far east side along the Dunes Highway north of the South Shore Rail Road. The subdivision was built in phases between the late 1950s to the mid 1960's. The eastern edge of Glen Ryan is boardered by Miller Beach and the southern edge is boardered by Aetna.

Ivanhoe was a housing project located on Gary's west side along 11th Avenue west of Chase Street. Closed in the summer of 1965, the facility was "sealed off" by a chain link fence.

Marshalltown is a subdivision located on Gary's east side along Central Avenue and 21st Avenue to the east of Martin Luther King Drive. It was developed in the mid 1950's.

Midtown is located to the south of Downtown Gary, along Broadway. This was, traditionally, the original "black" neighborhood in the pre-1960's days of segregation.
Old Miller School, District #8
Miller Beach also known through the years as Miller Station or just simply as Miller, is on Gary's far east side. The Town of Miller predated the city of Gary by more than half a century, however Miller was forcibly annexed by the city of Gary in the early 1920s. Miller developed around the old stagecoach stop and train station known, as early as the 1840s, as Miller's Junction. Miller Town Hall stands on the corner of Grand Boulevard and Miller Avenue at Old Hobart Road. The Historic Miller Schoolhouse, no longer used, still stands in Miller on Lake Street near the Miller South Shore train station.

Tarrytown is a subdivision located on Gary's west side between Whitcomb Street and Clark Road.

Tolleston is one of Gary's oldest neighborhoods, predating much of the rest of the city. It was plated out by George Tolle in 1857, when the railroads came to the area. The area is to the west of downtown Gary and south of the Ambridge area.

Westbrook is an apartment complex on the west side of the city between Taft and Chase Streets, adjacent to the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, and the neighborhood surrounding that complex. It lies to the north of Tolleston.


Although Gary is locate on similar latitudes as New York City, the climate is colder in the winter because of a more continental influence. In July and August, the warmest months, high temperatures average 84 °F (29 °C) and peak just above 100 °F (38 °C) and low temperatures average 63 °F (17 °C). In January and February, the coldest months, high temperatures average around 29 °F (-2 °C) and low temperatures average 13 °F (-11 °C), with at least a few days of temperatures dipping below 0 °F (-18 °C). The weather of Gary is greatly regulated by its proximity to Lake Michiganmarker, as it sits at the lake's southernmost point. Weather varies yearly. Tornadoes strike annually, though the city has generally avoided major damage. In summer months Gary is humid. The city's yearly precipitation averages about 40 inches. Summer is the rainiest season, with rainfall of short duration and very loud, drawn-out thunderstorms. Winters vary but are predominantly snowy with regular blizzards. Snowfall in Gary can average 24 to 36 inches per winter, but sometimes large blizzards hit because of "lake effect snow," a phenomenon wherein large amounts of water evaporated from the lake deposits onto the shoreline areas inordinate amounts of snow.


As of the census of 2000, there were 102,746 people, 38,244 households, and 25,623 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,045.5 people per square mile (789.8/km²). There were 43,630 housing units at an average density of 868.6/sq mi (335.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.03% African American, 11.92% White, 0.21% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.97% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. 4.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 38,244 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.2% were married couples living together, 30.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.9% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 84.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,195, and the median income for a family was $32,205. Males had a median income of $34,992 versus $24,432 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,383. About 22.2% of families and 25.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.9% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.


  • Newspapers — Gary is served by two major newspapers based outside the city, as well as a Gary-based, largely African-American interest paper. These papers provide regional topics, and cover events in Gary.
in Gary. Offices and facilities for the Post-Tribune are now based in Merrillvillemarker, a suburb of Gary.

  • Broadcast — Gary is served by five local broadcasters plus government access and numerous Chicago area radio and stations, and by other nearby stations in Illinois and Indiana.
    • W18ATmarker (Channel 18) a repeater of LeSEA's WHMEmarker in South Bendmarker.
    • WPWRmarker (Channel 50) is the Chicago My Network TV affiliate, but is licensed to Gary. Studios and transmitters are co-located with WFLD'smarker in Chicago, and like WFLD, WPWR is owned by Fox Television Stations.
    • WYINmarker (Channel 56) is a PBS affiliate licensed to Gary. Their studios are in Merrillville.
    • WGVE (FM 88.7) is owned by the Gary Community School Corporation, and is used primarily as a teaching facility. Programming is maintained by students in the broadcast program at the Gary Career Center. WGVE also carries limited NPR programming.
    • WLTHmarker (AM 1370) carries syndicated talk programming, and is owned by Pluria Marshall Jr.
    • WWCA (AM 1270) is presently a Relevant Radio owned-and-operated radio station, carrying programming from the Catholic-oriented Relevant Radio network.

Movie Locations

Recently (2009) filming was completed in Gary for certain scenes for an upcoming movie, A Nightmare On Elm Street .


The following sports franchises are based in Gary:

  • On August 3, 1956, Willie J. Williams broke Jesse Owens' 20-year-old World's Record in the 100 meter dash. This feat was accomplished after Williams was injured in the 1956 Olympic Trials while participating in an International World Military Track competition. In addition to breaking Jesse Owens' record, Williams did so on the same track and on the same date. Jesse Owens won four gold medals in 1936 while defying Hitler in Berlin's stadium. In the process of breaking the World's Record, Williams also defeated another gold medal Olympian, Ira Murchison.

This information is documented in the 1958 World Book Encyclopedia.



Primary and secondary schools

There are three school districts serving the city as well as multiple charter schools located within the city.

Most public schools in Gary are administered by the Gary Community School Corporation. The other public schools within the city are administered by Lake Ridge Schools Corporation. Some Gary residents in the outskirts attend schools administered by the River Forest Community School Corporation.

Gary Charter Schools operates several charter schools.

Higher education

Gary is home to two regional state college campuses:

Public libraries

Downtown Library
Gary Public Library System consists of the main library at 220 West 5th Avenue and several branches: Brunswick Branch, W. E. B. DuBois Branch, J. F. Kennedy Branch, Tolleston Branch, and Ora L. Wildermuth Branch. Lake County Public Library operates the Black Oak Branch at 5921 West 25th Avenue in the Gary city limits. In addition Indiana University Northwestmarker operates the Indiana University Northwest Library on its campus.


  • GPTC (Gary Public Transportation Corporation) a commuter bus system that offers service to numerous stops throughout the city and neighboring suburbs. GPTC also has express service to locations outside of the city including connections to Chicago transit. Front door pickup is available for disabled citizens at no extra cost.

  • GYY (Gary/Chicago International Airportmarker) is operating as the "third airport" for the Chicago area. It is currently undergoing much federally funded expansion, and the administration is courting airlines aggressively. Boeing already bases their corporate fleets here. The National Guard is intending to base their Chicago area air operation there as well, which would add much needed security to the airport, taking away some of the stigma of an airport in Gary.

Sister City

See also


External links

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