Exploring America’s Ghost Town – Gary, Indiana
America’s ghost town is just 25 miles from downtown Chicago. Dubbed a symbol of urban blight by some. Compared to post-evacuation Chernobyl by others.
“It is a sad thing, it really is. Very depressing. When you see something like this in this kind of condition – continuing to age and continuing to fall apart,” said historian Steve McShane.
RT visited the City Methodist Church. Today, it’s an abandoned shell with rusted ceilings, rotting junk and graffiti.
“When these sorts of sights fall into this kind of disrepair, it’s almost a neglect of one’s own historical soul.” said McShane.
Built in the 1920s – first a place of worship, later – a community center, it is now at the forefront of Gary’s decline.
Founded by US Steel Corporation in 1906, the town of Gary once boomed with manufacturing jobs. But competition from overseas led to a 90 percent cut in the work force – the one-industry urban centre came crumbling down.
“Once the steel plant suffered it’s loss of 30,000 jobs, that meant that the population would grow smaller, the revenues for the city would go down, and so that accelerated and snowballed,” said Steve McShane.
Gary’s population has been cut by half, as many fled in search of work . It is now almost exclusively African-American, at over 84 percent. Up to one third are poor in one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in america.
At 29, Allan has had no work for three years.
“There is really no job opportunities out here. It all depends on what you’re looking for too, but still, there is nothing here,” said the man.
The downtown area is now no-town. The main commercial street – an urban desert.
As the economy here collapsed, so did countless businesses – small and large, creating a town where dilapidated sites are common and hope is long forgotten. Doors shut, windows locked, mom and pop shops abandoned.
“Two growth businesses are strip clubs, and truck stop eating places,” said historian James B. Lane.
There are no investments flowing into this area nowadays, instead there is only hopelessness building up.
“It does two things: it makes me sad, and it pisses me off. At times I think, it’ll probably be best if I re-locate, you know. The way I see it, anywhere is better than here. Nothing here, point blank," explained unemployed Allan Griggs.
However, lately there is not much to be found elsewhere either. While Gary is a symbol of collapse, industry has been dying all across the US.. Promises of a manufacturing revamp are all the rage, while places like this are being erased from the map of America.
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney agrees that this isn't something isolated to just the Midwest."This kind of situation is happening all across our country," McKinney told RT. "The United States is becoming a shell of itself, and at the same time, it’s the decision makers in Washington DC have chosen to finance war, after war, after war and after war while we decay here at home."