What was once a thriving city has fallen from grace and become an Urban Explorers dream. The city of Gary was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as the home for its new plant. Many people relocated to Gary following the promise of jobs and a better life. Gary soon grew to a city of over 100,000 people, with the highest percentage of African-American population in the country.
Downtown Gary was developed in the 1920s, and soon magnificent structures were towering above the streets, including several structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, this new-found prosperity would be short lived.
In the 1960s, like many other American urban centers, Gary entered a spiral of decline. The demand for Steel was diminishing, and scores of citizens lost their livelihoods. After one of the nation's first African-American mayors, Richard G. Hatcher, was elected, many affluent and middle class residents deserted the city center and relocated to other regions.
Soon Gary resembled a deserted ghost town, with reminders of the past still looming out to greet new-comers.
Today, Gary is a city that sits in ruin, surrounded by sprawling suburbs plagued with crime and largely comprised of what have been described as some of the very worst housing projects in the country, particularly Ivanhoe district.
The long-abandoned buildings of Downtown Gary are often still full of everyday objects and signs of life, as if the city is waiting in limbo for the return its original occupants.
David Tribby has written a book on Gary, with superbly rendered photography of the town's treasures. I highly recommend it, below are some examples of his work featured in Gary Indiana, A City's Ruins.
I am a long way from Indiana, but hope one to be able to walk around this town and meet the buildings in person.
All pictures taken from Gary Indiana, A City's Ruins.
By David Tribby