Stagnant Hope: Gary, Indiana

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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 Park and borders southern Lake Michigan. Gary was named after lawyer Elbert Henry Gary, who was the founding chairman of the United States Steel Corporation. The city is known for its large steel mills, and as the birthplace of the Jackson 5 music group.

Once the second largest city in Indiana, the population of Gary was 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth-largest city in the state of Indiana. It was a prosperous city from the 1920s through the mid-1960s due to its booming steel industry, but overseas competition and restructuring of the steel industry resulted in a decline and a severe loss of jobs.

Since the late 1960s, Gary has suffered drastic population loss, falling by 55 percent from its peak of 178,320 in 1960.[10] The city faces the difficulties of many Rust Belt cities, including unemployment, decaying infrastructure, and low literacy and educational attainment levels. It is estimated that nearly one-third of all houses in the city are unoccupied or abandoned.

 

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