Sunday, February 25, 2018

February 17, 2018 Urban Exploring in Gary Part 1

I have a life long love affair with old buildings. I am sure it started in the mid 1970's in New York City. That era was probably the city's low point in it's very long history. But my grandfather would take us on day long trips into Manhattan. We would start downtown and end up in Central Park. I was amazed at all the old buildings and the histories and stories about them as told by my grandfather who clearly loved this city. As an adult whenever I am in a new city, I try to learn about it's history and I always take pictures of it's old buildings. The older buildings have character, unbelievable craftsmanship and in my opinion...soul. I easily dismiss most new buildings as soulless and I truly believe that is the best description. Since I have spent my whole life living in Rust Belt cities, I have seen the some of the worst devastation caused by the loss of manufacturing jobs from the '70s through '90s. Some neighborhoods and some cities have recovered and some have not...Gary, Indiana is on the still devastated list. I have visited Gary for work or on my way to Marquette Park and West Beach since 1985. I have always understood Gary's importance to the building of our country during the 1900's. What I could never understand is how it could be forgotten so easily. They still make steel in Gary. But parts of the city look like a war zone and appear to be uninhabited. I also know there are people that live there and care about their city. Marquette Park was renovated in the last 10 years and is a beautiful park with hiking trails through the dunes and a great beach. The Aquatorium and the Pavilion were were also renovated and are impressive places to hold corporate functions and private parties. But today's blog is about me combining my love of photography with my love of old buildings. This past summer I joined a group that shares both of those interests. They also care about the future of their city, Gary. So I joined several of them on a cold Saturday in February for my first UrbEx trip. 

Our first stop was City Methodist Church on Washington Street. This was once the largest Methodist Church in the Midwest. This is what it looks like today. Buildings like this are the closest things to ruins we have in America. Even now, standing here looking at this, I was impressed by this building.

It has been stripped of just about everything of value. 

Graffiti artists have come from all over the Chicagoland area to tag this building. 

We walked upstairs and into buildings attached to the church.

Graffiti with a message.

This was once a gymnasium on the second floor.

Impressive window frames and total destruction

Sometimes beauty can still be found surrounded by misery. The emotions run from tears to anger while wandering through this building.

The school's auditorium...

...and classrooms.

The once impressive church after being abandoned 43 years ago.

...and the school.