Gary, Indiana

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City of Gary
The Genesis Towers and the Gary State Bank, both located in downtown Gary, Indiana.

Nickname(s): City in Motion, City of the Century, GI, Magic City of Steel, The Steel City, The G
Motto: We Are Doing Great Things
Location in Lake County, Indiana and the state of Indiana.
Coordinates: 41°35′44″N 87°20′43″W / 41.59556°N 87.34528°W / 41.59556; -87.34528Coordinates: 41°35′44″N 87°20′43″W / 41.59556°N 87.34528°W / 41.59556; -87.34528[1]
CountryUnited States
TownshipsCalumet, Hobart
FoundedJuly 14, 1906
 • TypeCouncil-Strong Mayor
 • MayorKaren Freeman-Wilson (D)
 • Total57.18 sq mi (148.10 km2)
 • Land49.87 sq mi (129.16 km2)
 • Water7.31 sq mi (18.93 km2)
Elevation[1]607 ft (185 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total80,294
 • Estimate (2012[4])79,170
 • Density1,610.1/sq mi (621.7/km2)
Time zoneCST (UTC–6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC–5)
ZIP code46401-46411
Area code(s)219
FIPS code18-27000
GNIS feature ID2394863[1]
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City of Gary
The Genesis Towers and the Gary State Bank, both located in downtown Gary, Indiana.

Nickname(s): City in Motion, City of the Century, GI, Magic City of Steel, The Steel City, The G
Motto: We Are Doing Great Things
Location in Lake County, Indiana and the state of Indiana.
Coordinates: 41°35′44″N 87°20′43″W / 41.59556°N 87.34528°W / 41.59556; -87.34528Coordinates: 41°35′44″N 87°20′43″W / 41.59556°N 87.34528°W / 41.59556; -87.34528[1]
CountryUnited States
TownshipsCalumet, Hobart
FoundedJuly 14, 1906
 • TypeCouncil-Strong Mayor
 • MayorKaren Freeman-Wilson (D)
 • Total57.18 sq mi (148.10 km2)
 • Land49.87 sq mi (129.16 km2)
 • Water7.31 sq mi (18.93 km2)
Elevation[1]607 ft (185 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total80,294
 • Estimate (2012[4])79,170
 • Density1,610.1/sq mi (621.7/km2)
Time zoneCST (UTC–6)
 • Summer (DST)CDT (UTC–5)
ZIP code46401-46411
Area code(s)219
FIPS code18-27000
GNIS feature ID2394863[1]

Gary (/ɡɛəri/) is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States, located in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area. Gary is located approximately 25 miles from downtown Chicago, Illinois.

The population of Gary was 80,294 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the ninth-largest city in the state of Indiana. Gary's population has fallen by 55 percent from a peak of 178,320 in 1960.[5]

Gary is located adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and borders Lake Michigan. Many citizens and politicians have helped to preserve parts of the Indiana Dunes.[6][7] The city is known for its large steel mills, and for being the birthplace of the The Jackson 5 music group.


Founding and early history[edit]

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 lawyer Elbert Henry Gary, who was the founding chairman of the United States Steel Corporation.

5th Ave and Broadway in 1909

Gary's fortunes have risen and fallen with those of the steel industry. The growth of the steel industry brought prosperity to the community. Broadway Avenue was known as a commercial center for the region. Department stores and architecturally significant movie houses were built in the downtown area and the Glen Park neighborhood.

In the 1960s, like many other American urban centers reliant on one particular industry, Gary entered a spiral of decline. Gary's decline was brought on by the growing overseas competitiveness in the steel industry, which had caused U.S. Steel to lay off many workers from the Gary area. As the city declined, crime increased.

Rapid racial change occurred in Gary during the late 20th century. These population changes resulted in political change which reflected the racial demographics of Gary. Gary had one of the nation's first African-American mayors, Richard G. Hatcher, and hosted the ground-breaking 1972 National Black Political Convention.

In the 1960s through the 1980s, surrounding suburban localities such as Merrillville and Crown Point experienced rapid growth, including new homes and shopping districts. Owing to white flight, economic distress, and skyrocketing crime, many middle-class and affluent residents moved to other cities in the metro area such as Chicago and surrounding areas in Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gary had the highest percentage of African-Americans of U.S. cities with a population of 100,000 or more, 84% (as of the 2000 U.S. census). This no longer applies to Gary since the population of the city has now fallen well below 100,000 residents.

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, although this has been aggravated by the state closing of Cline Avenue, an important access to the area. Today, Gary faces the difficulties of a rust belt city, including unemployment, decaying infrastructure, and low literacy and educational attainment levels.

Recent history[edit]

Three-term Democratic mayor Scott King resigned from office in March 2006, citing a desire to return to private law practice.[8] 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.

In March 2008 the chief of police, the deputy chief, and a police sergeant were all indicted by the federal court for violating the civil rights of a Gary resident.[9]

In April 2011, 75-year-old mayor Rudy Clay announced that he would be suspending his campaign for reelection owing to ongoing treatments for prostate cancer. After exiting from the race, Clay endorsed rival Karen Freeman-Wilson, who won the Democratic mayoral primary in May.[10]

On November 8, 2011, Freeman-Wilson won election to the office of mayor of Gary with 87 percent of the vote. Her term began January 2012; she is the city's first female mayor.[11]


Lake County, Indiana Superior Court Building.

Downtown Gary is split by Broadway into two separate neighborhoods. Emerson and Downtown West combine to form what is known as Downtown Gary. It was developed in the 1920s and houses several pieces of impressive architecture, including one (disputed) structure, the Moe House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and another, the Wynant House (1917), which was destroyed by fire. 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 Union Station and City Methodist Church. A large area of the downtown neighborhood (including City Methodist) was devastated by fire on October 12, 1997.[12][13] Interstate 90 divides downtown Gary from the United States Steel plant.


Ambridge Mann 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.

Gary Centennial Landmark.

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 Tri-City Plaza shopping center on West 5th Avenue (U.S. 20). The area is south of the Gary Chicago International Airport.

Downtown West is located in north-central Gary on the west side of Broadway just south of Interstate 90. The Genesis Convention Center, the Gary Police Department, the Lake Superior Court House, and the Main Branch of the Gary Public Library are located along 5th Avenue. A new 123-unit mixed-income apartment development was built using a HUD Hope VI grant in 2006. The Adam Benjamin Metro Center is located just north of 4th Avenue. It is operated by the Gary Public Transportation Corporation and acts as a multimodal hub. It serves as the Downtown Gary South Shore train station and an intercity bus stop.

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 Midtown and south of Ambridge Mann. Tarrytown is a subdivision located in Tolleston between Whitcomb Street and Clark Road.


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 an unincorporated area informally associated with Hammond, and the area has Hammond telephone numbers. The community was convinced (after three previously failed attempts) by Mayor Hatcher that its residents would benefit more from services provided by the city than from those provided by the county. It is the only majority-white neighborhood in Gary.

Glen Park is located on Gary's far south side and is 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 Northwest. The far western portion of Glen Park is home to the Village Shopping Center. Glen Park includes the 37th Avenue corridor at Broadway.

Midtown is located to the south of Downtown Gary, along Broadway. This was, traditionally, the original "black" neighborhood in the pre-1960s days of segregation.

City Hall

North and East[edit]

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 that 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 throughout the 1950s after the Korean War in a series of phases. On its south and east, Aetna borders the undeveloped floodplain of the Little Calumet River.

Emerson is located in north-central Gary on the east side of Broadway. Located just south of Interstate 90. Gary City Hall is located in Emerson along with the Indiana Department of Social Services building and the Calumet Township Trustee’s office. A 6,000-seat minor league baseball stadium for the Gary SouthShore RailCats, U.S. Steel Yard, was constructed in 2002, along with contiguous commercial space and minor residential development.

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. Incorporated as an independent town in 1907, Miller was annexed by the city of Gary in 1918. Miller developed around the old stagecoach stop and train station known, as early as the 1840s, as Miller's Junction. The Miller Beach area has remained somewhat separated from the rest of Gary both culturally and geographically. Miller Beach continues to be racially and economically diverse, and attracts investor interest due to the many year-round and summer homes within walking distance of Marquette Park and Lake Michigan. Prices for lakefront property are affordable compared with Illinois suburban communities. Lake Street provides shopping and dining options for Miller Beach visitors and residents. East Edge, a development of 28 upscale condominium, townhome, and single-family homes, began construction in 2007 at the eastern edge of Miller Beach along County Line Road, one block south of Lake Michigan.[14]

Wells Street Beach in Miller
Map of Gary, The grey represents the industrial corridor
Lake County Superior Court House and US Steel Gary Works.

Geography and climate[edit]


The city sits on the southern end of the former lake bed of the prehistoric Lake Chicago and the current Lake Michigan. 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.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 57.18 square miles (148.10 km2), of which, 49.87 square miles (129.16 km2) is land and 7.31 square miles (18.93 km2) is water.[2]

Gary is "T" shaped, with its northern border on Lake Michigan. At the Northwesternmost section Gary borders Hammond and East Chicago. Miller Beach, its easternmost neighborhood, borders Lake Station and Portage. Gary's southernmost section borders Griffith, Hobart, Merrillville, and unincorporated Ross.[citation needed] Gary is about 40 miles (64 km) from the Chicago Loop.[15]


Although Gary is located at a latitude roughly similar to New York City's, the climate is colder in the winter because of a more continental influence, classified by Köppen-Geiger climate classification system as humid continental (Dfa). 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 Michigan, as it sits at the lake's southernmost point. Weather varies yearly. In summer months Gary is humid. The city's yearly precipitation averages about 40 inches. Summer is the rainiest season. 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 whereby large amounts of water evaporated from the lake deposit onto the shoreline areas as inordinate amounts of snow.

Climate data for Gary, Indiana
Record high °F (°C)70
Average high °F (°C)31.5
Average low °F (°C)16.5
Record low °F (°C)−22
Precipitation inches (mm)1.8
Snowfall inches (cm)7.8
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)99111212109898109116
Source #1: Weatherbase[16]
Source #2: [17]


Historical populations
Est. 201279,170−1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
2012 Estimate[19]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 80,294 people, 31,380 households, and 19,691 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,610.1 inhabitants per square mile (621.7 /km2). There were 39,531 housing units at an average density of 792.7 per square mile (306.1 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.8% African American, 10.7% White, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 1.8% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.1% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 8.9% of the population in 2010,[20] down from 39.1% in 1970.[21]

There were 31,380 households of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.2% were married couples living together, 30.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.2% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.23.

The median age in the city was 36.7 years. 28.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.8% were from 25 to 44; 27.1% were from 45 to 64; and 14.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.0% male and 54.0% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[22] 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 per square mile (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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.93% of the population.

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.

City and community services[edit]


Medical facilities[edit]


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

Public schools[edit]

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, which is the school system for the Black Oak neighborhood and unincorporated Calumet Township. Due to annexation law, Black Oak residents retained their original school system and were not required to attend Gary public schools.

Charter schools[edit]

Charter schools in Indiana, including those in Gary, are granted charters by one of a small number of chartering institutions. Indiana charter schools are generally managed in cooperation between the chartering institution, a local board of parents and community members, salaried school administrators, and a management company. Charter schools in Gary as of 2011 include KIPP Lead College Prep Charter School, Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, Charter School of the Dunes, Gary Lighthouse Charter School, 21st Century Charter, and West Gary Lighthouse Charter School.

Higher education[edit]

Gary is home to two regional state college campuses:

Public libraries[edit]

Downtown Library

The 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 Woodson Branch.[23] In March 2011, the Gary Library Board voted to close the main library on 5th Avenue and the Tolleston branch in what officials said was their best economic option. The main library will close by the end of 2011.[24] Lake County Public Library operates the Black Oak Branch at 5921 West 25th Avenue in the Gary city limits.[25] In addition Indiana University Northwest operates the John W. Anderson Library on its campus.[26]


Gary is served by the Gary Police Department and the Lake County Sheriff.

Fire Department[edit]

The Gary Fire Department(GFD) provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the city of Gary.[27] The GFD currently operates 9 Fire Stations.



Arts and film[edit]

The 1996 urban movie Original Gangstas was filmed in the city. The movie starred Gary native Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Richard Roundtree and Isabel Sanford, among others. Since the early 2000s Gary has experienced a surge of Hollywood filmmakers wishing to shoot movies in the city. In 2009 scenes for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street were filmed in Gary.[29] Scenes from Transformers: Dark of the Moon wrapped up filming on August 16, 2010.[30]

Nightmare on Elm Street being filmed in Gary

The History Channel documentary Life After People was filmed in run-down and derelict parts of Gary, Indiana.[31]

Meredith Willson's 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man featured the song "Gary, Indiana", and described 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 was not founded until 1906. Willson's musical, set in 1912, later was the basis of a film (1962) and a made-for-television film (2003).


The following sports franchises are based in Gary:

Sister cities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Michael Jackson's childhood home in Gary, Indiana, as it appeared in June 2009, shortly after the singer's death.
Frank Borman, former astronaut for NASA and a retired United States Air Force Colonel.

Gary is the hometown of The Jackson 5, a family of musicians who influenced the sound of modern popular music. Joe and Katherine Jackson originally moved into their two bedroom house at 2300 Jackson St. in Gary, Indiana, after they got married on November 5, 1949. The famous siblings would later record a song entitled "2300 Jackson Street" in the 1990s.

Other notables include

Business and industry[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: City of Gary
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  4. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2006). Alice Gray, Dorothy Buell, and Naomi Svihla: Preservationists of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 1.
  7. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2009). The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation. The South Shore Journal, 3.
  8. ^ NWI Times[dead link]
  9. ^ #08-870: Gary, Indiana Former Police Chief Convicted on Federal Civil Rights Violation (2008-09-30). Retrieved on 2011-03-22.
  10. ^ "Gary, Indiana Mayor Rudy Clay Not Seeking Re-Election Due To Illness". Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  11. ^ "Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson easily wins election as Gary's first woman mayor". Daily Reporter. Associated Press. August 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  12. ^ "Indiana Historic Architecture Editorials". Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  13. ^ "Blaze Hits Downtown Gary". Chicago Tribune. October 13, 1997. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  14. ^ "It's Miller's time in Lake County". Indiana Economic Digest. April 16, 2006. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  15. ^ Havill, Adrian. "NYC to Washington and Back." Robert Philip Hanssen: The Spy who Stayed out in the Cold. Crime Library. Retrieved on April 12, 2012.
  16. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Gary, Indiana". Weatherbase. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ Gary Weather | Gary IN | Conditions, Forecast, Average. Retrieved on 2011-03-22.
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Gary (city), Indiana". State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. 
  21. ^ "Indiana - Race and Hispanic Origin for Selected Cities and Other Places: Earliest Census to 1990". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  22. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  23. ^ "Locations & Hours." Gary Public Library System. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
  24. ^ Christin Nance Lazerus (March 31, 2011). "Gary’s main library closing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Locations and Hours." Lake County Public Library. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
  26. ^ "Library." Indiana University Northwest. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Benman, Keith. (October 27, 2009) National Guard armory ready to serve at Gary airport. Retrieved on 2011-03-22.
  29. ^ "Featured Articles from the Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. 
  30. ^ 'Transformers' set in Gary explosive. (August 17, 2010). Retrieved on 2011-03-22.
  31. ^ Life After People, Episode 2 - 30 years History channel documentary, Life After People
  32. ^ "Mayor Clay’s Statement on Gary’s 1st Trade Mission to China: Press Statement". May 22, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Lloyd McClendon Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Query the FCC's TV station database for WHNW-LD". Retrieved 2012-04-25. 

External links[edit]