The city of Gary in Indiana, USA was once a prosperous steel town but overseas competition and restructuring of the industry led to a population loss of 55% since its peak in the 1960s. Much of the city lies abandoned and it faces huge social problems such as poverty and ghettoization. It is estimated that a third of all properties in the city are unoccupied.
Its declining population and abandoned buildings have lent it the title of the most miserable city in the United States. And sadly, it doesn’t seem like the people who live in the town disagree.
What is a current Status of Gary, Indiana?
It is not at all accurate to label the city of Gary, Indiana as “abandoned”, as it is estimated that, as of 2014, approximately 78,000 people live there – yet at its peak in 1960 it had over 178,000 residents.
Gary has issues with unemployment, crime, social problems, and decaying infrastructure. Gary has effectively become a ghost town. Schools have been closed, stores have closed and houses have become derelict. It ranks second only to Detroit in the percentage of population lost in the Rust Belt since the turn of the century.
The History of Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana, was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as the home for its new plant, Gary Works. The city was named after industrialist Elbert H. Gary, chairman of the board of U.S. Steel. Anticipating a large population of steelworkers, Gary Land Company, a U.S. Steel subsidiary, laid out a gridiron city plan, built a variety of houses and apartments, and advertised its new creation far and wide as the “Magic City” or the “City of the Century.”
The town grew quickly as laborers from all over the world came to build the mills. After the first steel mills opened in 1909, U.S. Steel continued to expand. Soon, related industries (like American Bridge. Co., American Sheet and Tin Plate Co., National Tube Co., American Steel and Wire Co., American Locomotive Co., American Car and Foundry Co.) drew more immigrants to Gary.
World War I brought a great demand for steel. Soon, the town began to flourish economically. By the 1920s, Gary Works operated 12 blast furnaces and employed over 16,000 workers, making it the largest steel plant in the country.
The new Gary Works of U.S. Steel supplied the steel demands of the Midwest’s expanding industrial economy in the early twentieth century. The city of Gary became home to a rapidly growing population of European immigrants, and, by the 1920s, southern blacks and immigrants from Mexico as well. The city’s population grew to about 55,000 in 1920 and over 100,000 in 1930.
Steel production rose even more during World War II and, with many men drafted into battle, work at the factories was taken over by women. The economic demands of World War II revived the steel industry and pulled Gary out of the Depression. Wartime consensus shattered in the late 1940s and after.
The city’s population continued to grow moderately, reaching 133,911 in 1950 and 175,415 in 1970. S. Steel jobs also declined in the 1970s and 1980s. A number of factors contributed to the demise of the steel industry, such as the growing competition from foreign steel manufacturers in other countries. Technological advancements in the steel industry – especially automation — also played a role.
In 1970, the Gary Works employed over 30,000 but by 1990, this was just 6,000. US Steel struggled to compete with overseas competition in the steel industry and with Gary so dependent on one industry, the decline was felt throughout the city. Attempts to shore up the economy by diversifying into other industries failed.
By the year 2000, the population has continued to declined since then and is estimated at approximately 70,000 now. Like other Rust Belt cities, Gary has issues with unemployment, crime, social problems and decaying infrastructure.
Stunning Photos of Gary, Indiana
How To Reach Gary, Indiana With Public Transportation
- The bus journey time between Chicago and Gary, Indiana is around 50 min and covers a distance of around 48 km. The fastest bus normally takes 35 min. Typically 43 buses run weekly, although weekend and holiday schedules can vary so check in advance.
- There are no flights to Gary, Indiana. Allegiant Air had considered Gary/Chicago International Airport before, but aircraft operational limits resulted in the airline deciding against Gary until the runway expansion was completed. On May 24, 2013, Allegiant Air reported it was canceling air service out of Gary because of low demand for the flights.
Gary, Indiana on Google Maps
Discover Gary, Indiana on Google Maps
Gary, Indiana coordinates