Introduction to Gary, Indiana
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana is the city of Gary. The largest city in Indiana's Lake County, Gary is situated only 30 miles southeast of Chicago, Illinois, and encompasses the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area. Known for its large steel mills, Gary has long been known as an industrial city and the economic hub of the Northwest Indiana region which includes the surrounding communities of Merrillville, Hammond, and Hobart. Interstate I-90 runs through Gary, which is also serviced by Interstates I-80, I-94, I-65; U.S. Routes 12 and 20; and Indiana State Highways 312 and 912.
Founded in 1906 by Elbert H. Gary, former Chairman of the United States Steel Corporation, the city originated as the chosen site for the location of what was intended to be the world's largest steel plant. The three year project resulted in the birth of a huge industry and the creation of the city which would be named in honor of the area's great visionary and would instantly become the residence of thousands of steel workers and their families. Throughout the ensuing years, Gary's fortunes have mirrored the ups and downs of its primary industry. Plant layoffs in the 1960s led to a decline in the city's economic and cultural profile, mimicking the fortunes of similar urban centers in the nation. The city today continues to be a major steel producer but still faces economic challenges, which have been somewhat mitigated by the introduction of two casinos which opened along the Gary lakeshore in the 1990s. In 2006, the city celebrated its Centennial. Many notable people call Gary their original home, including well-known entertainers such as Michael Jackson and the Jackson family.
Art, Culture, and Entertainment in Gary
Gary boasts several arts and cultural centers. The West Side Theatre Guild, which originated in 1996, brings a mixture of traditional and contemporary productions to the area. Gary's Genesis Convention Center is an imposing example of modern architecture featuring a large glass wall across its front facade. Historical buildings in Gary include the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium. Built in 1921 as an elaborate bathhouse, the facility is one of the world's earliest examples of modular block construction.
Indoor recreation in Gary can be found at Buffington Harbor on the city's lakefront, where casinos are housed on two gaming boats: the Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II. The boats are docked at a spacious pavilion which includes restaurants, stores and offices. For outdoor recreation, Lake Etta Park offers 70 acres of open space which includes a stocked fishing lake, a beach for swimming, picnic shelters, walking trails, and paddle boats. The city also has dozens of other parks, including North Gleason Park, Marquette Park and Beach, and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park which offers fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking and horseback riding along Lake Michigan's sandy beaches.
The Gary sports scene revolves around two local teams: the Gary SouthShore RailCats and the Gary Steelheads. The RailCats are an independent minor league baseball team playing in the Northern League. The Steelheads are a professional basketball team playing in the United States Basketball League (USBL). The RailCats play their home games at Gary's Steel Yard Stadium, while the Steelheads play in the city's Genesis Convention Center. Thirty minutes away is the city of Chicago, home to several major league sports franchises, including the following:
- National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls
- Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox
- National Football League's Chicago Bears
- National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks
- Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire
- Arena Football League's Chicago Rush
- American Basketball Association's Chicago Rockstars
- Major League Lacrosse's Chicago Machine
- Women's National Basketball Association's Chicago Sky