Gary is located in the NW corner of Indiana, on the sourthern tip of Lake Michigan. While Gary is the largest city in Lake County, Indiana, it is not the county seat. That honor falls to Crown Point. Gary is the 3rd or 4th largest city in the state of Indiana, depending on who is counting, and when. At one time, Gary was the 2d largest city in the state. In its heyday, the population numbered in excess of 200,000. Sadly, those days are long past. The last census resulted in a population count below 100,000!
Gary was once known known as the "City of the Century." However, that century has now passed into the pages of history. Today, Gary is probably best and deservedly known as the "Murder Capital of the U.S."
That being so, the focus here shall be on the Gary, Indiana that was. The Gary that was is where I was born, (Mercy Hospital), raised (Glen Park-Eastside) and educated (St. Joseph School, Riley School and Lew Wallace H.S.). The environs of the Gary that was formed the crucible in which my very being was forged.
Gary has been known by a variety of names. Perhaps the most universally recognized nickname is "The Region." This appellation derives from Gary's location
in the Calumet River basin. There are actually two Calumet rivers in the area, the Grand and the Little. Both waterways played major roles in the development of the area. They permitted the drainage and subsequent use of marshland by industry. They also function as a means of transferring inland the goods transported on Lake Michigan.
Gary is also, rightfully known as the "Steel City." The rationale for this name needs little explanation. Over 100 years ago, U.S. Steel invested millions and millions to construct not only the largest integrated steel making facility in the country, but also the community where its employees would live. In a concerted effort to realize a return on its investiment, U.S. Steel hyped Gary to the world as the "City of the Century," and/or the "Magic City." Other appellations which have been used to reference Gary, IN. The most common ones are City in Motion and GI.
While tons and tons of steel are still produced annually at the U.S.S.-Gary Works facilities, the process no longer employs thousands of folk to do it. Technology has replaced labor. As a consequence, Gary's magic has wore off and its only motion now is one of a downward spiral.
That the velocity of that downward spiral is increasing is evident from the attitude and actions of the city's current political leader. As recently as 16 Jan 2008 Gary Mayor, Rudy Clay, was quoted by the Northwest Indiana Times as telling anyone who will listen that, "America will not be what it needs to be until Gary is what it ought to be," Now I ask you, how is that for accepting responsibility for the city's plight, exercising compelling leadership and simply grabbing the bull by the horns in a sincere, concentrated effort to turn things around?
Through word and pictures it is hoped one will find the Gary that was, develop an appreciation for its uniqueness and maybe even learn a new thing or two about da' Region.
The excursion begins by picking one of the paths awaiting in the Highlights box on the upper left side of this page. The option of avoiding the streets of Gary altogether is also available, and may be exercised at every turn in the road by clicking on the Return to: HOME/DIRECTORY link at the bottom of every page.
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