The worst city in America, where houses are selling for $1 and the population has plummeted by 100,000

It was once known as “The Magic City” and was home to the largest steel mill in the world.where thousands of employees worked.

But as Gary’s population dwindled due to job losses and crime in Indiana, The city has acquired a less favorable nickname: “Murder Capital USA”.

yes, Gary has a population of approximately 69,000, peaking in 1960, when the town was home to 178,000 people. outside of Chicago.

one thinks that At least 20% of all buildings in the city have been abandonedWhile more than a third have some degree of decomposition.

other side In the city where Michael Jackson was born, impressive buildings are in a dilapidated state, Testimony of Gary’s former glory.

The story of Gary’s downfall is repeated in the so-called “Rust Belt”, a strip of northern and midwestern United States that once ruled the world.

But in few other places has the decline in fortunes been as dramatic as in what was once called the city of the century.

Like many other American cities, Gary rose almost overnight from the swamp in the early 20th century.

It was founded in 1906 on the south shore of Lake Michigan, 28 miles from Chicago, named after Albert Henry Gary, the founding president of the United States Steel Corporation.

The steel mills were Gary’s biggest employers of all time, attracting thousands of people from across the country.

Many hopeful immigrants were lucky enough to live in cramped quarters, tents or huts if they were unlucky.

Pubs and bars flourished, and by the 1910s there was one hostel for every 88 Gary residents.

In the 1920s, around 16,000 workers sweated each day in the 12 hot and dirty blast furnaces of the largest steelworks in the country.

Gary’s population doubled between 1920 and 1940.

At first, the city was mostly made up of Eastern European immigrants, but began to attract more African American workers from the South as part of the Great Migration.

Among them was Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, who raised his nine children in a small house at Gary’s.

But the city’s racial tensions have risen since the end of World War II, and Gary’s population fell for the first time in its history when it experienced the “white flight” in the 1960s.

“When the jobs disappeared, white people were able to move on, and they did. But we African Americans had no choice,” Walter Bell, 78, told The Newspaper. Guardian.

It turned into a complete escape in 1967 when Richard Hatcher, one of the nation’s first African-American mayors, was elected.

The flight of whites to the suburbs also coincided with the decline in the fortunes of the steel industry.

In 1969, steel production in the United States reached an all-time high, with 32,000 employees at the plant.

But the lack of innovation and cheap steelmaking options overseas have sent the industry into a tailspin.

The first layoffs were announced in 1971, and tens of thousands of steelworkers lost their jobs in the decades that followed.

“We were expecting layoffs, but now it looks like it will be a lot tougher than expected,” local union boss Andrew White told The New York Times at the time.

In 2005, Gary’s Steel Mill employed only 7,000 people, while the town had lost about 80,000 residents in 35 years.

As jobs disappeared, businesses closed and crime increased. In 1994, the Chicago Tribune dubbed the city “America’s Murder Capital.”

But with so many people leaving town, even the murder rate has gone down.

As one Gary resident put it: “We were once the murder capital of America, but now there are almost no killers. We used to be America’s drug capital, but it takes money, and there’s no work here and nothing to steal.

Today, approximately 36% of Gary residents live in poverty.

The town’s Methodist Church, a massive limestone structure on the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, is striking among Gary’s many impressive crumbling buildings.

City leaders tried to find new ways to reverse population decline and create jobs to replace the steel mills.

In In 2019, officials announced they would be selling many homes in the city for just $1, or 83 cents.,

The plan, called the Dollar House program Owners selected by lottery systemHowever, not everyone could apply.

to be eligible,Prospective owners had to rehabilitate the house within a year, occupy it for at least five years, and have a minimum annual income of around $35,000.,

Promoting the plan, Luckia Manley of Gary’s Community Development Division said: ‘It will allow an individual to acquire property for a dollar, put their equity in the house while doing the rehabilitation work necessary to bring the property up to standard. code and live in the property for five years before doing anything about renting or selling the property.

Business Insider, who named Gary “the most pathetic town in America.” In 2019, he reported that the program received hundreds of applicants, but many didn’t realize that $1 homes were better, complete fixes.

The city also pays an annual tribute to its most famous son, Michael Jackson, while officials have sought to exploit its urban location as a source of revenue for Hollywood.

Gary has served as a filming location for several big-budget blockbusters, including remakes of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

And many believe that, despite his recent checkered history, Gary will be able to turn the tide.

Meg Roman, who runs Gary’s Miller Beach Arts and Creative District, told Curbed, “People have an idea of ​​what Gary is, but they’re always pleasantly surprised.

“When you listen to Gary, you think of steel mills and industry. But you have to come here and open your eyes to see there’s more.

The city also offers historic preservation tours through its dilapidated buildings, which showcase once-glamorous architecture.

Gary Mayer Jerome Prince was elected in 2019. In his inaugural address quoted by ABC7 Chicago, he was realistic about the challenges he faced.

“You have to roll up your sleeves to do everything possible to improve yourself humanly, that’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I ask you to do with me,” he said. declared.

And speaking of Gary’s people, he said: “In many ways they’ve become convinced that they can’t make it, it’s our responsibility to turn that narrative around and show them that we’re theirs. Support and try and with a little effort, commitment and dedication, they too can succeed.

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