The downtown Gary Library is said to have an extensive collection of material about the people who popluated the city. From the immigrants of old Europe to the exodus from the southern U.S. there are said to be information that will help your search for family. Even if you're not from Northwest Indiana, you may find information there.
220 W. 5th Avenue
Phone: (219) 886-2484 Fax: (219) 886-6829
Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm Friday & Saturday 9am-5pm
A lot of folk ignorant 'bout ol' G.I.//
I wonder "why tha hate?" Nobody told me why//
People sayin people die a lot up there//
People say "You'll probably get shot up there"//
But what's tha rationality behind that line?//
I ask "Have you been there?" They say "Nevermind."//
Speed limits here are "20." What's tha deal with that?// They wanna take ya down to County. Are ya feelin' that?//
A lot of brothas mind they business and you know that's true// You think everybody bad? I'm thinkin "No, that's you!"//
Let me tell you 'bout my friend, you know he used to diss it// Until he got tha "courage" and he chose to visit//
'Cause he wasn't tripped out, hatin' on race or status// And to this day he sayin "This place tha baddest!" [ie, best]//
People here may have to walk tha second mile// But still we true, G.I., and you know we got style!!!
Favorite thing: Camilo José Vergara is not from Gary, he wasn’t even born in the USA, but he is certainly relevant here as his images of the Steel City as well as Newark, Detroit, Camden, the South Bronx and more have instilled me with much contemplation of the urban world. This Chilean-born photographer has been called “the Jacob Riis of our times” for his photographic forays into the poorest urban areas of "the land of plenty," these United States. His work is haunting yet humane all at once. He’s a frequent visitor to these parts and although I have yet to meet him, let me recommend three of his books: The New American Ghetto, American Ruins and Unexpected Chicagoland.
History professor at Indiana University Northwest, co-founder of the Calumet Regional Archives and all around cool guy, that’s Dr. Jim Lane, or Jimbo, as he likes to be called. His book Gary: City of the Century is a good read, delving deep into an “instant city,” a 20th century industrial creation confronting tight racial segregation, often hostile labor-Mill relations, political corruption and vice, White-flight and a rise in street violence. The book ends, optimistically, in the mid 1970s, right after the assumption of Black Power and before the decline of the US Steel Corporation. The ensuing years have been rough, to say the least.
Dr. Lane is also editor of the wonderful Steel Shavings series, a magazine of local social and oral history, covering a wide range of topics and epochs in the Calumet Region’s history.
The Mayor of Gary
by Carl Sandburg
I ASKED the Mayor of Gary about the 12-hour day and the 7-day week.
And the Mayor of Gary answered more workmen steal time on the job in Gary than any other place in the United States.
"Go into the plants and you will see men sitting around doing nothing—machinery does everything," said the Mayor of Gary when I asked him about the 12-hour day and the 7-day week.
And he wore cool cream pants, the Mayor of Gary, and white shoes, and a barber had fixed him up with a shampoo and a shave and he was easy and imperturbable though the government weather bureau thermometer said 96 and children were soaking their heads at bubbling fountains on the street corers.
And I said good-by to the Mayor of Gary and I went out from the city hall and turned the corner into Broadway.
And I saw workmen wearing leather shoes scruffed with fire and cinders, and pitted with little holes from running molten steel,
And some had bunches of specialized muscles around their shoulder blades hard as pig iron, muscles of their fore-arms were sheet steel and they looked to me like men who had been somewhere.
Gary, Indiana, 1915.
Calumet Regional Archives
Founded in the 1970s "to collect, preserve, and make available records from organizations and individuals to document the history of Indiana's Calumet Region." Includes a searchable database.
Gary Chamber of Commerce (www.garychamber.com)
Consider this the "official" website for Gary. Typical Chamber of Commerce boosterism, all the more ironic when you're aware of how the city has fared over the past 40 years. The history section is a hoot, virtually nothing is said of the years between the late 1960s and today.
America's Magic Industrial City
An excellent website created by local preservationist Christopher Meyers. It doesn't appear to have been updated for a few years, but still features many well researched and written articles as well as lots of interesting images.
U.S. Steel Gary Works Photograph Collection
Presented by the Indiana University Digital Library Program and the Calumet Regional Archives this online exhibit contains over 2000 images from the Mill and city.
Lots of general and specific information about Miller, the "jewel of Gary."
Gary Historical and Cultural Society
Outside of a few pictures, not too much here.
City Methodist Church at faithfabric.com
A website for an area Christian group. This link takes you to a page featuring excellent images of a trip the group took to the City Methodist Church, which they eloquently call "Gary's Sacred Ruin."
Postcard Images of Gary Landmarks
Part of a website for and by the Wirt High School 1987 graduating class. Lots of images and articles and be found here.
Urban Adventure: Gary
"Behind the keep out sign!" A website by a guy who travels around exploring abandon buildings, tunnels, catacombs, and other places most dare not tread.
David Goes to Gary
Another look into Gary's ruins, this one features some excellent photography and typical smart-aleck college kid cynicism.
Visit the Dunes National Lakeshore. Here you will find some of the nicest fresh water beaches in the world.
Fondest memory: Spending the summer at the beach and the winter ice skating and sledding. Also, the leaves changing in the fall and the first hint of warm weather in the spring are always exciting.