Steel Mills on Sand
Building Gary, Harrison Street and 7th Avenue, 1906
The steel company and its subsidiaries built homes as well as commercial structures, expecting to sell or rent the residences to future steel mill employees. Many of the homes built on land owned by the steel company proved to be financially out of reach for most laborers in the mills, who instead purchased or rented less expensive homes built further south of the lakefront plant.
Building Gary, Temporary Workers' Housing, 1907
The construction company that was building the mill did not provide housing for all of its own workers. Laborers instead erected tents and shacks along the Grand Calumet River near the construction site, where they and their families lived for several months during the first year of construction.
Panoramic View of U.S. Steel Plant, Gary, Indiana, 1936
The expansive mill was separated from the town of Gary by a channel constructed to narrow the Grand Calumet River, and then relocate it from its path through the middle of the plant site.
Selling Gary, Real Estate Sales, 1908
In 1908 and 1909 the first ships laden with ore docked at the harbor and workers lit the fires beneath the blast furnaces and began the production of steel at the Indiana Steel mill in Gary. Meanwhile real estate agents used images associated with the steel industry to sell land in the city, advertising the hulking mills not as noxious neighbors but as indicators of the region's economic potential.
Land Sales in Gary, Indiana, n.d.
Planners of Gary, Indiana had expected that the city would grow east and west along Fifth Avenue, allowing employees to live close to the plant that stretched the same direction along the lakeshore. Instead, as this real estate poster reflects, the city expanded southward, perhaps because workers chose not to live so close to a mill that operated 24 hours a day, and because land to the south (further from the lakeshore) was less developed and less expensive than desirable shoreline real estate.
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