• Izzy Kapetanovic


Urban blight is frequently an outcome of a local industry collapse. It's outward appearance consists of many abandoned and decaying building remnants as signs of a heavy toll on the affected population. Unemployment, population flight and crime are some of the unfortunate outcomes of local industry failure leading to urban decrepitude. Photography category known as 'urban exploration' (aka urbex or UE) deals with capturing images of abandoned structures and ruins. It's fascinated with the visual appearance of decaying man-made structures and human stories behind them.

Gary, IN is one example of this unfortunate turn of events. It was founded in 1906 by the U.S. Steel Corporation and named after it's founding chairman. It's located along Lake Michigan about 25 miles south of Chicago. It's best known for its steel mill industry and as a birthplace of Jackson 5 group. Gary was once known as the "City of the Century" as depicted on the city seal, a model of industrial urban planning, but the overseas steel industry competition put it on hard times from which it never recovered. It lost more than half of its population and is replete with vacant storefronts and boarded up and abandoned buildings and houses.

Below are few urbex images from Gary.

City Methodist Church, once iconic pride of the community, now rests abandoned and dilapidated. It was built in 1925-26 using Bedford (Indiana) limestone in the Gothic Revival architectural style. U.S. Steel corporation contributed more than a third of its overall construction cost and also donated a Skinner organ. The church boasted a 1000 seat auditorium, gymnasium, built-in storefronts and impressive stonework. At its peak, it had 3000 parishioners. Large industrial downturn in 1960 started its decline and by 1973 barely 300 parishioners remained. It was fully abandoned in 1980's and is just one of thousands abandoned properties in the city.

Horace Mann school is one of 21 abandoned schools in Gary, IN. It's indicative of urban blight after local industry decline and failure. It took 7 years to complete and it opened in 1928. It is a 3 story brick building built in Emerson style. It had several gyms and pools and impressive landscaping. At its peak it had nearly 2600 students. Its famous alumni include a Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon and and two Nobel laureates in economics (perhaps ironic), Paul A. Samuelson and Joseph E. Stiglitz. After several revitalization attempts, it was deemed as “inadequate for occupation” and slated for demolition. Lack of the necessary funds for demolition left the school standing.

Another of many examples of city abandonment and decay is Gary downtown Post Office built in 1936 and closed in 1970's.

These are just few of many abandoned and dilapidated structures in once fast growing, promising city which fell on hard times and doesn't have the funds or resources to rehabilitate or demolish them.

All images were taken by Izzy Kapetanovic (© IMKap-Photography) using Sony A7Rii full frame mirrorless camera with a Sony FE 24-70 mm lens.

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#urbex #urbanexploration #Gary #decay #church #school #postoffice #abandonement

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