Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wandering Gary




The closest I've been to Gary, Indiana is driving by it on the tollway on the way to Chicago. My impressions have never been too high, a dirty industrial city, with some interesting looking architecture. When the Midwest Large Format Asylum decided to have a group outing there to do a little urban exploring, I tagged along.

I have to say, the city itself is more depressing than I originally thought, especially on a grey December day. At first glance, it seems most of the city is either boarded up or abandoned with a few dashes of light between. For a photographer who shoots urban decay, Gary would be a place you could work for years and not get through all the blight. It's too bad, because underneath the grime, you could see the pride that used to be present. Gary is probably a poster child for a one product economy. The steel mills take up the whole north side of the city and when they started having issues, so did the city.

Myriad examples of urban exploring in Gary are online, with whole web pages devoted to the city. A simple search on Flickr turns up more examples. We ended up going to a church in downtown, an old train station and the Palace Theater. We spent the most time at the church. A fascinating building, it's hard to imagine anyone just walking away from it. The old train station is another example. I know Gary has a commuter train that runs into Chicago, but the platform for that is at another spot. The old building is just the shell, with a few barricades in front. I'm sure they had a good reason for not using it, but I can't fathom why. We ended the outing at the Palace Theater. We got some photos of the outside, but we didn't go in the building. Not that we couldn't, we found two openings into it from an alley in back.

All in all, a good day out with the camera.

1 comment:

Dave Yaros said...

While Gary is indeed an urban decay photogs dream, it was once a live, viable, vibrant city of nearly 200,000 residents.

To learn more about Gary, both the past and present, it is difficult to find a more comprehnsive web site on the subject than Dave's Den