Downtown Gary is separated by Broadway into two distinctive communities. Originally, the City of Gary consisted of The East Side, The West Side, The South Side (the area south of the train tracks near 9th Avenue), and Glen Park, located further South along Broadway. The East Side was demarcated by streets named after the States in order of their acceptance into the Union. This area contained mostly wood-frame houses, some of the earliest in the city, and became known in the 20th century for its ethnic populations from Europe and large families. The single-family houses had repeating house designs that alternated from one street to another, with some streets looking very similar. Among the East Side’s most notable buildings were Memorial Auditorium (a large red-brick and stone civic auditorium and the site of numerous events, concerts and graduations), The Palace Theater, Emerson School, St. Luke’s Church, H.C. Gordon & Sons, and Goldblatt’s Department stores, in addition to the Fair Department Store. All fronted Broadway as the main street that divided Gary.
The West Side of Gary, or West of Broadway, the principal commercial street, had streets named after the presidents of the United States in order of their election. Lytton’s, Hudson’s ladies store, J.C. Penney, and Radigan Bros Furniture Store developed on the west side of Broadway. Developed later, this side of town was known for its masonry or brick residences, its taller and larger commercial buildings, including the Gary National Bank Building, Hotel Gary (now Genesis Towers), The Knights of Columbus Hotel & Building (now a seniors building fronting 5th Avenue), the Tivoli Theater (demolished), the U.S. Post Office, Main Library, Mercy and Methodist Hospitals and Holy Angels Cathedral and School. The West Side also had a secondary principal street, Fifth Avenue, which was lined with many commercial businesses, restaurants, theaters, tall buildings, and elegant apartment buildings. The West Side was viewed as having wealthier residents. The houses dated from about 1908 to the 1930s. Much of the West Side’s housing were for executives of U.S. Steel and other prominent businessmen. Notable mansions were 413 Tyler Street and 636 Lincoln Street. Many of the houses were on larger lots. By contrast, a working-class area was made up of row houses made of poured concrete were arranged together and known as “Mill Houses”; they were built to house steel mill workers.
The areas known as Emerson and Downtown West combine to form Downtown Gary. It was developed in the 1920s and houses several pieces of impressive architecture, including the Moe House , designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and another, the Wynant House (1917), which was destroyed by fire. A significant number of older structures have been demolished in recent years because of the cost of restoration. Restructuring of the steel and other heavy industry in the late 20th century resulted in a loss of jobs, adversely affecting the city.
Abandoned buildings in the downtown area include historic structures such as Union Station, the Palace Theater, and City Methodist Church. A large area of the downtown neighborhood (including City Methodist) was devastated by a major fire on October 12, 1997. Interstate 90 was constructed between downtown Gary and the United States Steel plant.
Ambridge Mann is a neighborhood located on Gary’s near west side along 5th Avenue. Ambridge was developed for workers at the nearby steel plant in the 1910s and 1920s. It is named after the American Bridge Works, which was a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. The neighborhood is home to a huge stock of prairie-style and art deco homes. The Gary Masonic Temple is located in the neighborhood, along with the Ambassador apartment building. Located just south of Interstate 90, the neighborhood can be seen while passing Buchanan Street.
Brunswick is located on Gary’s far west side. The neighborhood is located just south of Interstate 90 and can also be seen from the expressway. The Brunswick area includes the Tri-City Plaza shopping center on West 5th Avenue (U.S. 20). The area is south of the Gary Chicago International Airport.
Downtown West is located in north-central Gary on the west side of Broadway just south of Interstate 90. The Genesis Convention Center, the Gary Police Department, the Lake Superior Court House, and the Main Branch of the Gary Public Library are located along 5th Avenue. A new 123-unit mixed-income apartment development was built using a HUD Hope VI grant in 2006. The Adam Benjamin Metro Center is located just north of 4th Avenue. It is operated by the Gary Public Transportation Corporation and serves as a multi-modal hub. It serves both as the Downtown Gary South Shore train station and an intercity bus stop.
Tolleston is one of Gary’s oldest neighborhoods, predating much of the rest of the city. It was platted by George Tolle in 1857, when the railroads were constructed to this area. This area is west of Midtown and south of Ambridge Mann. Tarrytown is a subdivision located in Tolleston between Whitcomb Street and Clark Road.
Black Oak is located on the far southwest side of Gary, in the vicinity of the Burr Street exit to the Borman Expressway. It was annexed in the 1970s. Prior to that, Black Oak was an unincorporated area informally associated with Hammond, and the area has Hammond telephone numbers. After three referendums, the community voters approved annexation, having been persuaded by Mayor Hatcher that they would benefit more from services provided by the city than from those provided by the county. In the 20th-century, it is the only majority-white neighborhood in Gary.
Glen Park is located on Gary’s far south side and is made up mostly of mid-twentieth-century houses. Glen Park is divided from the remainder of the city by the Borman Expressway. The northern portion of Glen Park is home to Gary’s Gleason Park Golf Course and the campus of Indiana University Northwest. The far western portion of Glen Park is home to the Village Shopping Center. Glen Park includes the 37th Avenue corridor at Broadway.
Midtown is located south of Downtown Gary, along Broadway. In the pre-1960s days of de facto segregation, this developed historically as a “black” neighborhood as African Americans came to Gary from the rural South in the Great Migration to seek jobs in the industrial economy.
North & East
Aetna is located on Gary’s far east side along the Dunes Highway. Aetna predates the city of Gary. This company town was founded in 1881 by the Aetna Powder Works, an explosives company. Their factory closed after the end of World War I.
The Town of Aetna was annexed by Gary in 1928, around the same time that the city annexed the Town of Miller. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Gary’s prosperous industries helped generate residential and other development in Aetna, resulting in an impressive collection of art deco architecture. The rest of the community was built after World War II and the Korean War in the 1950s, in a series of phases. On its south and east, Aetna borders the undeveloped floodplain of the Little Calumet River.
Emerson is located in north-central Gary on the east side of Broadway. Located just south of Interstate 90, Gary City Hall is located in Emerson, along with the Indiana Department of Social Services building and the Calumet Township Trustee’s office. A 6,000-seat minor league baseball stadium for the Gary SouthShore RailCats, U.S. Steel Yard, was constructed in 2002, along with contiguous commercial space and minor residential development.
Miller Beach, also known simply as Miller, is on Gary’s far northeast side. Settled in the 1850s and incorporated as an independent town in 1907, Miller was annexed by the city of Gary in 1918. Miller developed around the old stagecoach stop and train station known by the 1850s as Miller’s Junction and/or Miller’s Station.
Miller Beach is racially and economically diverse. It attracts investor interest due to the many year-round and summer homes within walking distance of Marquette Park and Lake Michigan. Prices for lakefront property are affordable compared to those in Illinois suburban communities. Lake Street provides shopping and dining options for Miller Beach visitors and residents. East Edge, a development of 28 upscale condominium, townhome, and single-family homes, began construction in 2007 at the eastern edge of Miller Beach along County Line Road, one block south of Lake Michigan.