Why I Love Gary, Indiana by Doug Plencner

Downtown Gary, Indiana
Downtown Gary, Indiana

“Scary Gary,” as it is sometimes referred to, is one of my favorite places in Indiana. What, you scoff, how can anyone like that place? Well, it is very simple. Its natural beauty is unrivalled in most of the midwest. Yes, that’s what I said.

You see, Gary the city encompasses several small towns within its limits too. One of these is Miller, which is home to Miller Woods and Miller Beach. I consider those two places, along with West Beach, to be the three most beautiful natural places in the Indiana Dunes National Shoreline. The dunes and swales there are unbelievable.

Millers Beach and Woods
Millers Beach and Woods
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers
Millers

Since Gary is situated on Lake Michigan at its southernmost latitude. Gary enjoys the longest Great Lakes swimming season of any city on the Great Lakes chain. That same southernmost status of all of the Great Lakes also means sand, and plenty of it. So much that when the Gary Steelworks was built they were able to build it on land that was reclaimed from the lake. By pushing sand from the dunes with bulldozers out into the water, permanent land mass was created to support the Steelworks on what had been lake. A similar technique was employed in nearby East Chicago, Indiana for its Inland Steelworks, however the lake fill was not sand alone in that case.

Gary Steelworks
Gary Steelworks
 While it is true that GI was the United States’ murder capitol, I have never found it to be unsafe. The police force is large and very visible. I would guess that you cannot spend more than twenty minutes in any public part of GI and not see a patrolman pass through the area in that time. The city is a hub of transportation too. The lake acts like a funnel — forcing train, truck, auto and airplane traffic to converge. There’s simply no shortage of transportation options for you or the goods your business offers.
Gary South Shore Air Show
Gary South Shore Air Show
Same Beach
Same Beach
Famous folks have come from GI in multitudes too. Frank Borman (born 1928), astronaut on Gemini 7 and Apollo 8, for whom the main expressway through Gary was named, was born in Gary. As was former NFL star, actor, director, producer Fred Williamson; Ron Kittle, former Chicago White Sox outfielder; LaTroy Hawkins MLB Pitcher; and the late multi-platinum recording artist Michael Jackson, whose father still owns a restaurant in Gary.

The city of Gary also has some very nice restaurants. Sharks and JJ Fish for fried fare are represented well here. Miller Pizza Station has friendly service and wonderful cuisine. Elios tacos on US20 handles authentic Mexican cuisine.

There is one drawback to this fairy tale place though. It is sinking. Quite literally being reclaimed by marsh. Virtually every building on the East side of town has water waiting to infiltrate its basement walls. Most abandoned properties see their basements fill to the ceiling very shortly after being uninhabited.

On a final note, Gary is the birthplace of aviation. Octave Chanute was the first to make a sustained flight on a heavier-than-air structure in 1896. This flight took place from the sand dunes of Miller beach.

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RELATED POST:  Guest Blog: Doug Plencner on What is Indiana Sexy?

1 Comment

  • George Verongos
    2 years ago

    Great article and beautiful pictures, Doug. You prove that there are beautiful scenes in Indiana (although usually without people).

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