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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So................in a couple of months, I may be attending a conference in, of all places, Gary, Indiana. The murder capital of America.


What can I expect, realistically? A desolate ghost town? Armed gangs wielding AK-47s and AR-15s on every corner? Or maybe white picket fences with smiling black people who say "oh don't believe what everybody tells you - Gary's a wonderful place to live!"

And why doesn't anybody offer flights to Gary, I thought they had an airport? Every airline ticket website I've been on (Expedia, etc) acts like Gary Airport doesn't exist when I type it in. I have a feeling that if I fly to Chicago and try to catch a cab at the airport, that the cab driver will look at me crazy and no one will even take me down there.


What is Gary REALLY like? There must be SOMETHING going on there for there to be a conference there. If it were really and truly a warzone there would be no conference, no hotel, no nothing.
 

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It'd be better flying into either O'Hare/Midway, taking the El downtown and head to Millenium Park, take in the sights, and catcha train to Gary underneath the park.

The best part of Gary is the Miller section. Nice restaurants, amazing beaches and a generally cool vibe-
 

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Welcome

If you want the lowest cost, take the CTA into the Loop. Then walk over to the South Shore train entrance at Michigan and Randolph. The South Shore will take you to downtown Gary.

The option I would take, if I were you, is a bus from the airport (either O'Hare or Midway) to Gary. You can make reservations with CoachUSA at www.coachusa.com.

Don't take a cab. It would be too expensive.

Oh, and don't worry about the crime. It's in the neighborhoods. Your convention area, likely downtown or along the lakefront, will be OK, especially in the daytime. Just don't do any long walks at night.
 

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Yeah, take South Shore to Gary. As for what is actually there, and whether it will stop near your destination, that's something I'm not sure of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just found out more details, it's at a hotel in Merrillville, IN. Mapquested that, it looks like it's pretty close to Gary. Is that community similar to Gary?


If Gary's anything like the South Side of Chicago then I think I'll be OK. People have always told me how much of a warzone that was, and then when I actually went I went all up and down it, from downtown to the Chicago State campus and beyond, and nothing happened. Nothing even remotely dangerous happened to us and we were there at night.


How up to date is your resume?


Was this directed at me, and if so, please elaborate.
 

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Just found out more details, it's at a hotel in Merrillville, IN. Mapquested that, it looks like it's pretty close to Gary. Is that community similar to Gary?


If Gary's anything like the South Side of Chicago then I think I'll be OK. People have always told me how much of a warzone that was, and then when I actually went I went all up and down it, from downtown to the Chicago State campus and beyond, and nothing happened. Nothing even remotely dangerous happened to us and we were there at night.
Much of Gary is an urban wasteland, returning to primal forest. Merrillville is a bit south of Gary and your motel/convention center is likely near the I-65/US 30 (Lincoln Highway) interchange. That area is typical suburban sprawl central. The best way there, IMHO, is to fly into either of Chicago's main airports (preferably MDW, if possible) and rent a car. It should be no more safe nor dangerous than any other such highway commercial area.

BTW, the airport in Gary, IN only handles general aviation and charters.

Mike
 

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Yeah, Merrillville is just a typical suburban area. Safe, quiet, subdivisions, your typical suburban mall, restaurant chains, etc. My only concern for you is if your going to be staying in Merrillville and going to Gary for your conference, you should really get a car. There's not much in the way bus service, it falls out of the "Chicagoland" area, so it's not served by RTA. And a cab in Merriville is going to cost you bundles. You may be better off with spending the $25.00 a day for a cheap compact car on expedia.com, since it's not an urban area, you'll pretty much need a car to go anywhere.

EDIT: I just realized your conference IS in Merrillville... you'll probably need to grab a CoachUSA bus there. You may still need a car, depending on whether or not you'll be leaving a hotel much... I'm assuming it's the big hotel right off the highway, if that's the case, I believe there is a shopping center next to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Well, when I was first told about it, everybody said that the conference was in Gary. Then I get the details and find out it's Merrillville *shrugs*.


BTW................this is not for a job. It's for school - I'm a member of the American Planning Association (APA) and its PBCD (Planning in the Black Community Division) is having the conference. It chose Gary because, at least according to PBCD, Gary is poised to make a great comeback. A former mayor of Gary and planning director for the city (both of whom are black) will be there.


As for whether or not the city is making any progress, I'll be the judge of that.


In all seriousness though, I expect Gary to be an old, heavily industrial steelmaking town, not unlike Birmingham. I don't really expect to get gunned down or anything, I was just curious as to what the Chicago posters here would tell me if I said I was going to Gary.


I know both Birmingham and Gary have struggled with declining population, the decline of the steel industry, pollution, high crime, and lots of poverty so like I said I don't really expect the two cities to be terribly different. Even if Gary is a complete shithole, I'll try to find something positive about the city. I believe that as an urban planner, no matter how hopeless the city may seem to be, you have to remain optimistic, while still remaining realistic. You have to be able to see something special and something positive in the community you're working in, or else you shouldn't be there in the first place.


In our planning program, there's like 10 people I know of who are from Detroit, and only one of them said he was going back to Detroit to work in planning (community redevelopment) and all the others say there's no way in hell they would go back. I think that's a shame, because older cities like Detroit and Gary could really use the help and expertise of someone who has both a professional knowledge of what it takes to make a great city as well as the love for the community that comes from being a native.


Birmingham struggles with a similar thing - most planning students I know of from here want to work in a big, bustling, fast-growing city like Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Nashville, Charlotte, etc. Why not employ your skills in a place that could really use it?


As for transportation arrangements, hopefully they'll have a van or something. I really don't want to spend money renting a car, and dammit I wish Gary had their own airport that I could use. I really don't like flying into a city and having to drive for a long time from the airport to get to where I'm going. My philosphy is if your city has an airport, use it. If the city you're traveling to has an airport, use it. **** all that driving shit.


But since Gary's airport is not commerical, I guess I will have little choice but fly to MDW (I don't fool with O'Hare unless I have to, big airports in general give me headaches). Also MDW is closer.
 

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as the others have said, you're going to merrilville, IN, which is generic run of the mill exurbia, a far cry from gary (despite the relative proximity). it'd be like going to san jose but telling people that you're going to san francisco; they're world's apart.

you'll have nothing to worry about in merriville, other than how to get around if you don't rent a car.
 

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Merrilville = where all the white people from Gary moved to. There are some sizable office buildings, hotels, and a regional mall centered on the I-65/US 30 interchange, which is Merrilville's "downtown" so to speak. It's the southeastern-most edge city of Chicagoland. As for how far it is from O'Hare... it's roughly 1 hr 15 minutes if traffic isn't too bad. From MDW it's about an hour. It doesn't seem like much of a time-advantage, but that's because you're not heading downtown. You'll head south on Cicero Avenue through about 50 traffic signals, then take the Tri-state southeast to Indiana.

Gary will probably surprise you. It's level of decay is way beyond Birmingham's. Downtown is practically abandoned... literally (pics are from qwerty1324). Every storefront is empty and almost all buildings are abandoned. It's almost straight out of 1946 Hiroshima.
 

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Merrilville = where all the white people from Gary moved to. There are some sizable office buildings, hotels, and a regional mall centered on the I-65/US 30 interchange, which is Merrilville's "downtown" so to speak. It's the southeastern-most edge city of Chicagoland. As for how far it is from O'Hare... it's roughly 1 hr 15 minutes if traffic isn't too bad. From MDW it's about an hour. It doesn't seem like much of a time-advantage, but that's because you're not heading downtown. You'll head south on Cicero Avenue through about 50 traffic signals, then take the Tri-state southeast to Indiana.

Gary will probably surprise you. It's level of decay is way beyond Birmingham's. Downtown is practically abandoned... literally (pics are from qwerty1324). Every storefront is empty and almost all buildings are abandoned. It's almost straight out of 1946 Hiroshima.
See:
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=41.601484,-87.339034&spn=0.008296,0.021629&t=k&z=16&om=1

That is downtown Gary, IN, right by the I-90 (Indiana Toll Road)/IN 53 (Broadway) interchange. Most of the buildings along the main streets and extending southward to at least I-80/94 (Borman Expressway) are abandoned and well beyond economic repair, literally crumbling and rotting away. I agree with your photolog, it is a REAL eye-opener to drive through. Gary strikes me as the sort of place that will have to essentially have to depopulate, reduce itself to vacant forest and wait a generation or two before it will once again be attractive for development. Traffic visibility and ease of access, both highway and rail, are not at all a problem for Gary, it is about as easily accessible as one can possibly imagine. IMHO, it was mainly a 'perfect storm' of economic changes and just plain old bad, misguided and incompetent government at ALL levels throughout the second half of the 20th century.

One could write countless textbooks for planning and government based on the Gary/East Chicago area and studies of its past and future are what PhD theses are made of.

Mike
 

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I went through Gary once by car, more accidently, as we didnt find our way to the indiana dunes, which are quite nice btw.

I was shocked about how run down, how "lost" a city in the middle of the US can be.

Especially as it is so close to such a rich city as Chicago and having such a beautyfull beach.

Gary`s problem are the huge steel factories. As soon as they would be gone, it would be possible to redevelop the whole area...
 

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Gary`s problem are the huge steel factories. As soon as they would be gone, it would be possible to redevelop the whole area...
actually, that huge steel works is one of the few things keeping gary even marginally afloat. one of the cruelest things to happen to gary, along with the rampant white flight, was the tremendous efficiency in the steel industry over the last several decades. gary was built as a factory town, it's entire economy more or less sprung forth from the massive gary steel works, which at one time was one of the largest single steel producing mills in the world. gary works still pumps out millions of tons of steel, in fact it's still the largest integrated steel works in north america, but now only a fraction of the manpower required to produce steel decades ago is used today thanks to increased efficiency and a much greater reliance on automation, so thousands of good paying, family-supporting, union jobs were lost over time, and as gary's economy started to tank from all the job losses, all the white folks just up and left for suburban pastures further south, leaving a shell of a city with a predominatly poor, black populace with ever decreasing prospects for good jobs. it's a downward spiral that played out in cities across america, but it hit gary especially hard.

with the bad state of affairs in gary, i still don't think that closing the gary steel works is the path to a brighter future. the smart money would be on building gary-chicago airport into a true 3rd regional airport and capitalize on the economic investment and jobs it would bring to the city.
 

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^It probably wouldn't revive downtown Gary or many of the neighborhoods, but it would certainly give the general area a secure economic future.
 

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How many really working steel mills are there still in Gary?
And how many people work there?

I guess that this 3rd Chicago Airport in Gary would produce more jobs immediately then all the stell mills would loose if closed.

The next thing is, that, if done in the right way, the whole Gary area could gain a lot from its Location.
I mean, its close to Chicago, its situtated directly at lake michigan, you still have huge forests and the beach is often also quite beautyfull (Indiana Dunes...)

If it would be redeveloped, it could be far more attractive than a lot of western or norht-western Chicago suburbs.

Do you have links for suggested redevelopment projects?

I mean, if you close the stell mills, open that third airport, build a lot of golf courses with direct acces for the chicago yuppies by beatyfull marinas, it should be possible to boost the service industry.

Theres so much money in Chicago, it should only find its way to the south....

In the Ruhrgebiet in Germany, ther also used to be huge heavy industry, before its decline in the 70`s, and they started huge redevelpment programms. Not all worked out, but I see a huge potential in that Area.

For example Lofts like this:



or, as we call it, "industrial memorials" redeveloped for art and science.



 
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