The Changing Landscape of Opportunity

By the early 1980s, many industries closed their doors permanently, or greatly reduced their number of workers due to automation and overseas competition. Despite such extreme changes to the employment landscape, residents of the region continue to create new ways to make a living and maintain quality-of-life, often building on their heritage for the futureContinue reading “The Changing Landscape of Opportunity”


The Calumet Gun Club was founded by Chicago recreational hunters in 1885 and was one of several hunting and fishing clubs in the region at the time. Located just east of the present day US Steel Gary Works harbor, the club’s buildings were still standing when the United States Steel Corporation bought the site inContinue reading “Recreation”

Taking a Stand for Civil Rights

In this photo, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (left) enjoys a round of golf at Gary’s North Gleason Park. One of Louis’s motives for golfing in Gary was to draw attention to, and protest, the disparity between the nine-hole North Gleason course and the whites-only, 18-hole South Gleason course. Joe Louis golfing with the Par-Makers1948CalumetContinue reading “Taking a Stand for Civil Rights”

Changing and Expanding Social Opportunity

Where to live, what school to go to, who to marry? The objects and stories displayed here show how residents answered these kinds of questions, sometimes pushing boundaries and sometimes not, as they made the most of the opportunities available to them. The need to house huge numbers of new industrial workers quickly posed aContinue reading “Changing and Expanding Social Opportunity”

Social Opportunity: Introduction

As industry grew, so did the cultural diversity and the breadth of opportunity outside of the workplace. Even as population numbers exploded, people often stayed within the boundaries of neighborhood, race and ethnicity, or religion. Still, urban life afforded new options in education, community, and achievement. People took advantage of these new possibilities and atContinue reading “Social Opportunity: Introduction”

Pushing Back on Limits in Industry

Processing natural resources is often inherently dirty, as the smoke in this 1950s U.S. Steel Gary Works photo illustrates. Mills are much cleaner today, but the processes still release lead, other heavy metals, and particulates that can cause health issues. Aerial View of Gary Works1950Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest The Risks and Repercussions ofContinue reading “Pushing Back on Limits in Industry”

Diversity in Industry

At any one time, over 20 languages could be heard in the steel mills throughout the Calumet region. Because steelworkers often knew little or no English, employment manuals were written in a number of different languages. Employment Manuals, Carnegie Illinois Steel Works (now United States Steel)1910s-1920sGary Public Library Workers from inside and outside the USContinue reading “Diversity in Industry”

Industrial Opportunity: Introduction

By the 1880s, the swampy Calumet region looked to industrialists like the last “undeveloped” space around the southern Great Lakes. It provided land for their vastly expanded operations in close proximity to water, Chicago’s labor supply, and a dense rail network. Guided by this new view and seizing this opportunity, the Calumet region became “theContinue reading “Industrial Opportunity: Introduction”

Saving Some Space for Nature

Continuing the tradition of valuing nature within a region of industry, the abandoned Erie-Lackawanna railroad has been repurposed into a walking trail that extends throughout the county along the rail line. Current South Entrance of the Trail, Crown Point2019Jeanene Letcher As industry spread across the region, more and more of the people drawn by theContinue reading “Saving Some Space for Nature”