Past, Present, and Future

Gary, Indiana


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Gary, Indiana
41.593370, -87.346427

Pledged of $10,000 Goal


Step 1: Specify your contribution amount for Gary, Indiana


The Problem:

Gary, Indiana, is a pretty scary place.

NBC News recently profiled the depressed city near Chicago for its Poverty In America series, reporting that about 6,500 of the 7,000 properties the city owns are abandoned, and Gary officials are thinking about auctioning the buildings off for $1 because the city doesn't have the money to demolish them.

Things are getting so bad that Gary officials are thinking about cutting off city services to about 40 percent of the city's land and moving residents to more viable parts of Gary, NBC reports. This is a drastic move, but it may be necessary as the thousands of abandoned properties are attracting criminals.

Gary's deterioration is not a new story.  The city's economy was decimated when the steel industry collapsed. Gary has lost 55% of its population since the city's peak in 1960. Back then, 178,320 lived in Gary. By 2010, the population had dropped to just 80,294. Gary might have lost even more people since then — U.S. Census estimates put the 2012 population at 79,170.

U.S. Steel used to be a big employer in Gary, providing jobs to 25,000 people. Now, just 5,000 work for the company, according to NBC. Competition overseas led to massive layoffs in the steel industry.

It resembles a ghost town with vacant downtown storefronts, empty sidewalks and boarded-up buildings. Photos from 2006 illustrate what was once known as the "City of the Century" in near-ruin.

The city is trying to stage a come-back, of course. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told NBC that she'd like to see the population get back up to 100,000.

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With this project we are looking to create some kind of publication, which studies Gary's past and present situations and then looks for and suggests ways forward, using design as the medium.  Such as a new comprehensive plan for the city, possible beach area designs and other possible interventions.


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