Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (2024)

The city of Gary in Indiana, USA was once a prosperous steel town but overseas competition and restructuring of the industry led to 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.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (1)

Union Station was a stop on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (2)

A postcard of Union Station in its heyday.

In 1906, the United States Steel Corporation founded the city of Gary just25 miles (40km) fromdowntown Chicago, Illinois. The Gary Works on the shore of Lake Michigan was the world’s largest steel mill and the city was built to serve it. The city was named after lawyerElbert Henry Gary, the founding chairman of the United States Steel Corporation.

The city grew steadily, driven by the steel works. The steel strike of 1919 was centred on the city and on 4 October of that year, a riot broke out in downtown Gary between striking steel workers and those brought in to work in their place. Martial law was declared by Indiana governor James P. Goodrich and the army was called in to restore order.

Gary’s formative years saw an influx of immigrants, primarily from eastern European countries. In 1920, nearly 30% of the population was foreign-born and a further 30% had at least one foreign-born parent. There was a large influx of African-American migrants from the South during the Great Migration, as was the case in Detroit, Michigan which has also seen significant population decline in recent years.

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.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (3)

The Gary Works US Steel plant is still in operation today.

Gary was one of the first cities in America to have an African-American mayor when Richard G. Hatcher was elected in 1967. This was a turbulent period for the civil rights movement and with a population around 50% African-American, Gary was often home to racial tension and violence. Hatcher spoke alongsideMartin Luther King,Robert F. Kennedy,Jesse Jackson, and other historic proponents of the civil rights movement. He was instrumental in bringing the groundbreaking National Black Political Convention to Gary in 1972.

Prior to desegregation, 97% of Gary’s African-American population lived in the Midtown section just south of Downtown. It was a largely self-contained community asblacks were largely excluded fromDowntown Gary. After Richard Hatcher became mayor, he set about a programme of urban renewal for Midtown and encouraged minorities to inhabit other areas of the city.

Midtown was home to one of America’s most infamous musical families, The Jacksons. Joseph and Katherine Jackson moved from East Chicago to Midtown in 1950 and lived in a two-bedroom house at 2300 Jackson Street. The Jackson 5 were the first group to debut with four consecutive number one hits on theBillboard Hot 100.Michael Jackson would later leave the group to become one of the biggest selling musical artists of all time. Janet Jackson also became an international star, selling over 100 million records.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (4)

The Jackson 5 once lived at 2300 Jackson Street in Midtown.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (5)

Janet and Michael Jackson both became major international stars selling nearly 500 million records between them!

By the year 2000, Gary had the highest percentage of African-Americans in any city of over 100,000 residents in the USA. 84% of the population was African-American. 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.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (6)

An abandoned house in Gary. About 30% of the residential properties in the city are unoccupied.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (7)

Some of the abandoned properties in Gary are occupied by squatters.

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 percentage of population lost in the Rust Belt since the turn of the century.

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (8)

An abandoned church in Gary.

The remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street was shot in Gary, as were Michael Bay movies Pearl Harbor and Transformers: Dark of The Moon.

Location: Gary, Indiana 🇺🇸
Abandoned: 1990s

Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town (2024)


Gary - The Indiana City that has Become a Ghost Town? ›

Gary, Indiana is a ghost town because of its decline in manufacturing jobs. The city was once a booming steel town, but the steel industry began to decline in the 1970s. This led to a decrease in jobs and population. Today, Gary is one of the poorest cities in the United States.

Why did Gary Indiana become a ghost town? ›

Gary's decline was brought on by reduced employment in the steel industry overall, which caused U.S. Steel to lay off many workers from the Gary area. The U.S. Steel Gary Works employed over 30,000 in 1970, declined to just 6,000 by 1990, and further declined to 5,100 in August 2015.

What happened to the town in Gary, Indiana? ›

But the once-booming city crumbled into chaos following the decline of the American steel industry in the 1970s, as foreign steel imports outpaced domestic production. Its overall population plummeted from 180,000 people in 1960 to less than half that number today - and around 10,000 buildings now lay abandoned.

What is the abandoned place in Gary Indiana? ›

It's hard to imagine how a building as grand as the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, could ever become abandoned. Completed in 1926, the spectacular nine-story complex also included, at one time, a 1,000-seat theater, offices, a dining hall, and a gymnasium.

How does a ghost town become a ghost town? ›

A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it (usually industrial or agricultural) has failed or ended for any reason (i.e. a host ore deposit exhausted by mining).

Is Gary Indiana still a city? ›

Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States, 25 miles (40 km) from downtown Chicago, Illinois. Gary is adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Parkand borders southern Lake Michigan.

Why was Gary Indiana called the Magic city? ›

Considering the astounding growth, Gary earned the moniker, "The Magic City". Gary's original plat was modeled after Manhattan, its cardinal thoroughfares were named Broadway Avenue (North-South) and 5th Avenue (East-West) the intersection of these thoroughfares marks the epicenter of our Downtown.

Why is Gary Indiana famous? ›

Gary is a city in the state of Indiana, in the Midwestern United States. Gary is known for its steel mills and for being the birthplace of singer Michael Jackson. The population of Gary is less than 70,000.

Is Gary Indiana being rebuilt? ›

Eddie Melton, mayor of Gary. His administration has targeted the demolition of old buildings and building new housing and other structures on the city's many vacant lots. A minor-league ballpark and a casino are among the construction projects that city officials point to as success stories.

What happened to Gary from Pallet town? ›

Gary then decided to give up on being a trainer and become a researcher instead. He gave Ash the Poké Ball, but when Gary left all his Pokémon but Blastoise at Professor Oak's Laboratory, Ash returned it to him and Gary left.

Is it legal to explore Gary, Indiana? ›

Last week Gary, Indiana secretly and without public commentary passed a new ordinance. Anyone who wants to enter an abandoned building or photograph an abandoned building (inside or out) needs a permit. The permit is $50.

What percent of Gary Indiana is abandoned? ›

An estimated 20 percent of Gary's buildings are totally abandoned. One of the town's most notable ruins is the City Methodist Church, which was once a magnificent house of worship made out of limestone.

Does anyone live in ghost town? ›

These ghost towns in New York State, Pennsylvania, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia, Montana, and Wyoming have been transformed into various things. Some are rumored to be haunted by the spirits of former residents or business owners. However, not all of them are defunct; there are ghost towns that people still live in.

Is it illegal to explore a ghost town? ›

The Legalities Exploring Abandoned Places

Trespassing on private property is illegal and can result in fines or legal action. However, there are legal ways to explore abandoned places without breaking the law. Abandoned locations, such ghost towns historical sites, Open to the public for exploration.

What is the largest ghost town in the United States? ›

The hardy souls that remained, promoted Jerome as a historic ghost town and in 1967 Jerome was designated a National Historic District by the federal government. Today the mines are silent and Jerome has become the largest ghost town in America.

Why is Gary Indiana so rundown? ›

Population and Economic Woes

The population of Gary has been on a steady decline. From a peak of around 200,000 residents, the number dwindled to just 69,093 by 2020. The economic downturn brought on by the collapse of the steel industry led to high poverty rates and an increase in crime.

What percentage of Gary Indiana is black? ›

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Gary, IN are Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (77.4%), White (Non-Hispanic) (9.74%), Two+ (Hispanic) (3.74%), White (Hispanic) (3.33%), and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (2.65%).

Why is ghost town in the Sky abandoned? ›

During a bad economy that brought high gas prices, the park closed again after the 2009 season due to a massive mudslide in February 2010 and financial woes. One of the original owners, Alaska Presley, bought the park back in 2012 with plans of transforming it to Ghost Town Village.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated:

Views: 5304

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.