Welcome to Gary - "America's Magic Industrial City": a site devoted to save, preserve, and disseminate information relating to Gary, Indiana architectural history.
As early as 1904, the United States Steel Corporation began a site search as to where to develop its new mill complex. After analyzing all available options, the United States Steel Corporation decided to place its "new and modern" mill complex and associated town along the shores of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana.
In 1906, the United States Steel Corporation created two subsidiaries to oversee development: the Indiana Steel Corporation and the Gary Land Company. The Indiana Steel Corporation was charged with developing the mill site while the Gary Land Company supervised construction of the town's First Subdivision. Within several years, the rapid push to construct a new industrial complex literally forged a city out of scrub oaks, dune, and swale. The city rapidly took shape and became an urban center within three years of founding. The population quickly skyrocketed from approximately 300 inhabitants in 1906 to 16,802 in 1910. Ten years later, the 1920 Census showed that the city's population tripled to 55,378. In 1960, Gary's population reached its apex at 178,320.
Gary is best known as one of our country's major steel producing and facilities. As possessing such a lucrative and important venture, Gary attracted a diverse mixture of social, economic, and ethnic classes. One aspect of Gary history that has been overlooked is its architecture. Numerous books have been authored discussing the social histories of the city but its built environment has never truly been discussed. This page is an off-shoot of my thesis research and academic interests. With this site, I hope to illustrate my architectural discoveries and document my continuing concerns to preserve one of the last American industrial cities. In this site, I shall present previously undocumented designs by numerous architects including J.T. Hutton, John Eberson, Holabird & Roche, George & Arthur Dean, George Maher & Son, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Where can one find important architectural commissions on nearly every street or hidden away within one of the many neighborhoods? But in Gary, Indiana of course!! Throughout Gary, one can find commissions by Chicago and nationally known architects. The city is a microcosm of architectural styling from the early 1900s to the late 1980s. An analysis of the city shows many modern forms of construction techniques, architectural styles, and design ideologies. In comparison to other nearby cites, Gary possesses a noteworthy bastion of terra-cotta ornament, early examples of reinforced concrete structures (some of which are loosely modeled after Thomas Edison concrete patents), prime examples of Prairie School buildings, forward thinking Worker's Housing, a diverse mixture of American building styles, and rare urban design scenarios.
The purpose of this page is to illustrate that Gary does currently possess an architectural pool worthy of preservation. The city contains a noteworthy park system, a downtown commercial corridor, and significant residential neighborhoods (Ambridge-Mann, Glen Park, and Miller to name but a few). In the future, I hope to plead such a case and show many of the city's significant structures. I have created this page to illustrate to the internet community the architectural uniqueness and importance of this once prosperous industrial city.
From Sand Hills to Urban Decay is illustrative of the recent past and built heritage of the city. Attempts are being made to resurrect Gary, the once grand industrial city. Examples of redevelopment initiatives include casino gambling and the development of a lakefront community in Buffington Harbor (Majestic Star Casino, a new recreational marina, and surrounding retail, residential, and logisitcs), runway and airline expansion at the Chicago-Gary International Airport, the restoration of Marquette Park, possessing an International Basketball League Team (The Gary Splash) and an American Association Professional Baseball Team (The Railcats), the development of a Sister City Cultural and Trade Agreement with Fuxin, China, improving infrastructure through various Federal and State grants, and the possible development of a Michael Jackson Performing Arts and Cultural Center.
Gary - "America's Magic Industrial City" is not affiliated with any City of Gary Department nor is this page reflexive of the municipality's preservation policies or planning agendas.