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Moment of Indiana History

Gary, Indiana and the City Beautiful Movement

The City Beautiful movement was a nationwide initiative at the turn of the twentieth century which sought to foster thoughtful urban planning that featured careful integration of business and residential areas, street plans that offered attractive vistas, and an attention to human scale in city development.

Gary, Indiana was a model of this movement, earning it nicknames like “the Magic City” and “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” Gary featured many prominent architectural landmarks from the building boom of the 1920’s, and its steel mills represented impressive technical achievements.

Unfortunately, developers laid streets out in a traditional gridiron pattern, quickly destroying the natural contour of the land and the needs of the burgeoning steel industry quickly eclipsed any notion of residential comfort. The picturesque shores of Lake Michigan filled with steel mills and plans for orderly residential development were overwhelmed by a massive population boom.

Although Gary has become an important center of industry, the city now aspires to recapture some of its early charm, striving once again toward the ideals of the City Beautiful movement.

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