♪ somber guitar ♪
[Peter] Here we are,
coming into Gary, Indiana.
About 45 minutes from Chicago.
City with the lowest
life expectancy in the United States.
Also has one of
the highest homicide rates.
It’s right in the top five.
So Gary came into being around 1906
when the Gary Works
steel mill was founded.
So at one time,
biggest steel mill in the world.
It is still operating
and it is the biggest in North America.
Population was roughly 200,000
here at its height in 1950,
and now it’s down to I believe like 68.
So huge population decline.
The money was pumping in here
from the mills.
This was creating the iron ore
for the buildings across America
but it changed around 1970.
Became cheaper to make steel overseas,
things were off-shored.
So what’s been left behind
is what we’re gonna see today.
This looks like the main street.
Some new buildings right across the street
from an old factory.
See typically we think in the US,
at least I do,
until I started doing this work,
that really beautiful old architecture
would only be found in
let’s say the cities we know of well.
But one wouldn’t think of Gary, Indiana
as the place of beautiful churches.
Let’s give it a look-see.
Wow, this is interesting.
Look at that, that must’ve been…
I’m not sure,
some sort of theater in the church.
Yeah, look at that.
I see it pretty much everywhere I go.
Everything’s in a cycle,
everything has a lifespan.
There’s up moments, peak moments,
down moments, and bottom moments.
And so with Gary,
who knows where we’re at right now.
Is it at the bottom?
Are we on the way up a little bit?
Does it have more down to go?
You’d think by its proximity to Chicago,
being near the lake,
that it probably has a strong future.
Look at that old fireplace.
We have a school over here,
a charter school.
So much life next to so much decay.
Maybe that’s the story of Gary.
Wow, look at this.
[Man] Yeah, open this one, man.
I can’t get up through there.
-[Peter] Sir, you grew up here?
-[Man] Yeah, I grew up here.
-What was it like back in the day?
-Beside the bias,
and the color barrier, and all that,
economically, during the ’50s and ’60s
it was really good.
Middle class, you know?
Easy working facilities,
people working, white collar, blue collar,
you know, status quo, see what I’m saying?
It was a good environment,
but as time went on and things decayed,
and people moving out,
businesses, you know?
The whole menagerie
it goes through enterprising and growth,
things went down,
and like with any other place,
crime comes in, you always got something
to fill the void of what goes out.
-‘Cause right now man,
all the construction is going in the East.
-They building out by the beach.
-They building beach homes.
-No… Yeah, Miller.
Out on the beach
we talking ’bout million dollar homes.
-Seriously, in Gary? Really?
-Yeah, I’m telling you.
-People gotta open they eyes–
-That’s what I’m trying to show,
that’s why I talk to locals.
-People see the superficial
but never see what’s under it.
You see this but don’t know the history
of this, why it’s still that way.
So you remember
when this was in operation?
-I’ve been in here when it was working.
-Really? How was it?
-It was nice,
it was like a cathedral, dude.
I mean, look at it.
-You ain’t got churches like this around.
This shoulda never even
went down like this.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s,
when you used to go to Chicago man,
used to be big piles of dumps,
where people would dump stuff,
and lots and stuff.
Back in the ’70s,
you know what I’m saying?
Every place you went,
now it’s not like that no more,
but here it is in the city here…
Like I say,
every city is just like a life.
-Like a life?
-Like a life.
it goes through a transition,
and then at some point it deteriorates.
-But then there’s a cycle,
maybe a rebirth?
-Okay, but this is running slower.
The mill was
the biggest money maker here.
Oil, coal, steel changed the world.
The industrial revolution here,
everything changed due to that.
-So Gary was one of
the most important cities of the times?
-Yeah, you had U.S. Steel.
U.S. Steel was one of
the biggest plants around, man,
Pittsburgh, all that.
when you were young,
was working at the steel mill?
-Either you worked the steel mill,
you was a contractor, or a teacher,
worked in a school, see what I’m saying?
Those were major fields.
Unless you was
a doctor or lawyer. [chuckles]
-You get it?
-If you’re not privileged
to be that, you’re just
what we used to call middle class.
-I’mma ask you a question.
-What kind of classes do you think
are in existence now in our society?
It’s going wealthy and poor,
the middle’s carving out.
-No, the middle been gone.
-The blue collar left there
due to the fact that the blue collar,
you had to get a cost of living increase
to be able to keep up with the Joneses,
but the Joneses
don’t want you keeping up.
-What’s your take on America now?
-You’ve seen a lot.
-It’s got a long way to go, man.
It’s really doing a retro
while it’s moving ahead,
but it’s doing it in a,
I call it cell-like demeanor.
You know how they say a cell
don’t know what the next cell doing?
-No, explain that.
-Okay, here we go, you got a corporation.
Back in the day if you
went into a bank, you open an account,
they gave you a booklet,
instructions, this is what you read.
Now when you go somewhere,
you tell me anybody that give you
actual paperwork showing you
what you’re getting involved in.
They verbally tell you
but then they leave it up to you.
-And then terms and conditions online,
you say accept,
you’re not reading any of that,
and they change that stuff all the time.
-But the youth is what’s gonna
make or break everything.
You, at your age,
and I know you’re younger than me,
we’ll be considered probably
an old man by their standards.
Think about it, man.
They move quicker,
their whole generation is focused on
what they know they wanna do.
-So what’s your take on
the youth overall these days?
-They in a good spot, dude.
-They’re in a good spot?
-They’re in a good spot
to change everything.
They the key, they can change everything.
[Peter] What are you guys doing,
you’re fixing this building?
-We doing electrical.
-So there are jobs now like this?
-There’s always been jobs like this,
you just gotta get the opportunity.
-It’s a good job?
I don’t even call it a job,
it’s like a career, you get skills.
It’s a good place
to actually make money, you know?
-‘Cause your expenses are low?
-Expenses low, house market
is lower than most states.
-I read the the average house is $66,000.
Something like that.
-Something like that
but a nice house could be around 120.
-Nice house, $120,000?
-So you can live the American dream
here if you have a career like yours?
-I wouldn’t say the American dream
but you definitely can get comfortable.
[boy] Yo, I’m on video bro.
[Peter] A lot of people will see it,
are you okay with that?
-You all from Gary?
-I’m from Chicago
I was raised here a little bit.
-Okay, what’s the difference,
Gary and Chicago?
-Chicago’s got more killing,
gang bangers and stuff.
It’s kind of 50/50 but Gary’s
a more safe place, more than Chicago.
-So good place to be a kid?
-A little bit, there’s still a lot of
killings and stuff, but like, you know…
When you in the right area,
you know, you safe.
-Are we in the right area.
-Naw, I’mma be real wit you, naw.
[Peter chuckles] No? Okay.
-We just… a lot of stuff’s going down.
[loud hip hop coming from store front]
-Ma’am, you’re the boss of town,
is that what I’m gathering?
-No, not really. [laughs]
-How long have you lived here?
-Six to seven years.
-Why’d you move to Gary?
-I figured it’s the best place
to open up a business
cause this area
don’t have any clothing stores.
-You gotta travel 30 minutes out
so I decided just open this up.
This, I also have a selfie place.
-This as well.
She have autism, so this
really works good with autism kids.
This is Pooh Shiesty mother and sister.
-Who’s Pooh Shiesty?
-I know Tupac.
-Gucci signed him.
-He’s so confused.
-Gucci the brand?
-You don’t know Gucci?
-I’ve been called Gucci in East New York.
-Oh my God.
[rap music coming from phone]
-It’s safer to have
a business here than Chicago?
I don’t like the looting
or anything like that.
So if I was to
open up my business out there
I know it woulda got, you know…
Indiana stay on top
of they things out here.
-Indiana’s on top of it,
they stick up for businesses?
-So right here is the trap room.
You know, trap room,
it was a party here.
So this a trap room,
and this is an ’80s, ’90s party.
You could sit up there, take a picture.
-You come in here, dress up,
and this is for Instagram?
-Yeah, Instagram, Facebook, parties.
This is real nice.
You can sit up here.
-Hold my camera, hold my camera.
What am I doing?
-Um, you know if you’re on Facebook,
you could do a TikTok.
-Yeah, it could be a boomerang.
-So here’s where I’m at, I came into Gary
knowing nobody, knowing nothing,
other than the little bit
I’ve seen online,
and I want to get it
from the voices of the people.
-‘Cause that’s how we learn.
-I would say
be careful on people you approach.
Be very careful.
-Be careful? Okay.
-Some people… be careful.
-Okay, so I took a risk with you ladies
a little bit coming in your business.
-[laughing] You have to be careful.
Naw, they ain’t bad like Chicago, girl.
-I would say…
-It is some people that’s crazy out here.
-The only thing that’s kinda weird is that
they could just
have a gun in front, you know?
-You gonna see a lot of people carrying.
-Okay, it’s open carry here?
-Kids even walk in the store with it.
-With nice semis?
[Peter] It’s got a lot of
different feels here.
It has the feeling of decay obviously
as you can see in these buildings.
It’s got old world charm.
Like a depth, an energy here.
It makes… it’s sort of like
it’s in a bit of a time standstill.
Ones like that look lived in.
Some are beyond repair,
and some look like
they just need a lot of attention.
Some nice ones in here too,
look at this neighborhood.
It’s really sprucing up a bit.
Look at these old brick homes.
[Peter] So you grew up here?
What were you saying
about Michael Jackson?
-He’s a nice young man,
and his brothers, all nice.
I wish that I could have met him but
I couldn’t because I stayed in Chicago.
Joe Jackson, him and his wife,
left Michael Jackson at my mom’s house.
stayed at your mom’s house?
-His home is
right over here where he grew up?
[Woman] Yes, that school
is a historical landmark.
-That school’s a historical landmark?
-Roosevelt High School.
That’s where he did his first talent show
and everything in that school right there.
-Is it still open?
-Nah, it’s closed, the boiler broke.
-The boiler broke?
-So they closed the school down?
-Yeah, no heat.
-But the building looks good.
-Yeah, alumni keep that up.
[Man] Violence was real bad
all in the ’90s.
-So much worse than now?
-It was worse.
Used to be projects over there,
you see the big old lot?
-Joe Jackson decided
to keep his family away.
-Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson’s father?
-Yeah, keep his family away
from all the bad kids.
-While he worked in the mill,
he had to take care of his family.
-Michael Jackson’s father
worked in the steel mill here?
[Man] I miss those days, I was
six years old, blessed to see all of this.
A lot of young people back in the ’90s,
they’re dead and gone.
And I’m blessed that I didn’t
associate myself with those people.
My mom was one of the Jehova’s Witness.
-So God kept me.
-You had strong rules in your household?
-Yes, very much so.
..married to my wife.
-Oh, no way.
Dude, that’s awesome.
-My ring is right here,
I can’t wear it ’cause…
-We gotta talk to your wife.
-Yeah, her name is Emma.
-Are you still in
the honeymoon period, you two?
-We haven’t even started yet.
We just here at work.
-Honeymoon period, as in
everything is perfect and excellent.
-Okay how’d you–
[Peter] Young at heart, Jerry, c’mon.
-I’m 64, he ain’t young.
-He’s young at heart, look at him.
-Nice to meet you, Peter.
You too, Beverly, you are styling.
-That red hair,
or it’s more of a mahogany, excuse me.
-This is one of our bosses.
-How are you?
[Peter] I’m doing well,
I’m doing a video on Gary.
-Through the voices of the people
like good old Clarence over here.
-That’s my brother.
-Everyone loves him in the community?
[Jerry] Except me.
[Peter] Except you?
[Peter] This guy’s got
the great sense of humor, huh?
-[Peter] He gives everyone sh*t?
So this is great, what you’re doing here.
-You’re helping out the community.
-Adult Day Care, okay.
How many people do you have here?
-Great, are you looking for more,
looking for less?
-Always looking for more, we’re expanding.
[Beverly] I was raised in Chicago
on the South Side in Lake Park.
The second graduate
from Martin Luther King High School.
Was loving it then, it was beautiful.
Everybody got along.
This generation that’s here now,
they’re wild, they’re crazy.
-Do you agree, Jerry?
-Okay, explain that
for people that don’t know.
-When I was coming up in the ’60s,
everybody looked out for each other.
You know, if you did something wrong
your neighbor would tear your butt up
and then tell your parents,
your parents would tear your butt up.
We had morals, we had ethics,
we had respect for our elders.
-Even when there was crime?
-It wasn’t that much crime.
If it was crime
it was outside our community
’cause they kept it away from us.
You know, moms and dads
didn’t have guns and stuff laying around
so that we could get ’em.
Moms and dads was older.
They were older.
-My mom and dad had guns.
-My mom and dad
always had a gun but we didn’t see it.
We didn’t see it.
[Clarence] He was bad when he was young.
[Jerry] I was not, I was not.
[Clarence] He went to prison twice
-[Peter] You were a bad boy?
-[Beverly] He was bad.
-I would wait till they go to prison…
-But did your mama tear your butt up?
-So he needed a butt tearing by his mom?
-My parents migrated from Mississippi.
Where we had the old folks… discipline.
You know, we used to get a whoopin’.
-Strong values down there?
-Yes, we got whoopins.
I got beat with extension cords,
tree branches, douche bag cords.
But it made me the woman that I am.
It made me a strong woman.
My mom and dad didn’t get an education
but they raised us with ethics, respect.
That’s why we work
with these kind of people.
Gary needs something for the kids to do.
They need jobs,
they need activities, you know?
When I was coming, we had
sock hops, we had Boys & Girls Club.
-You guys don’t have
a Boys & Girls Club out here?
-We got one
but it’s different than what we had.
-Okay, so that’s what Gary needs?
More resources for the kids you think?
-Resources for kids,
and I think with this new mayor we got,
he’s younger and he knows what we need.
-That’s what I’m seeing
all over the country.
‘Cause I go all over.
You gotta go at the youth.
-I mean it starts with home life, right?
-Start with the home.
Charity starts at home
and then spread abroad.
-But if the home life is not there,
that’s not the kid’s fault.
-It’s not the kid’s fault.
-That’s when we need to
go in with resources.
Which it’s not just money either,
it’s attention, guidance, discipline.
-‘Cause I used to manage
a grocery store on 5th Avenue
when I moved here
in 1982 from Chicago to Gary.
I found it that the kids,
they were into bad activities
but to show concern, and love,
and I had to prove myself.
I’m not scared of you.
You know, I am not scared of you.
-So you think today some parents
are scared of their 12-year-olds?
-Yeah, they scared of ’em.
-Yeah, because they mix
with the wrong crowd.
You don’t know what
these little kids are carrying now.
I used to could tell the kids
pull up your pants.
Now they’ll curse your butt right out.
Might pull out a gun.
-How ’bout in Mississippi right now?
Mississippi, somebody have to
come from up here to take it there.
When I moved here in 1982
there was no drugs.
-’82, no drugs here?
-No drugs here, they were still…
If it was, we didn’t see it.
They were still sleeping
with their doors open.
-That’s our boss.
-You got a cool team here.
[Peter] You know it.
-I’m gonna go pick up the bus.
-Yeah, but they didn’t…
The violence was here
but it wasn’t like it is now.
You know, compared to Chicago.
When I moved from Chicago
they was standing on the corner.
-You used to be able to walk the street?
-Clarence and I just walked now,
we had no problem.
-No, I’m saying
you can’t do it at night time.
-You can’t do it at night.
-I shouldn’t stand out, right?
-When I have a camera.
-Naw, you don’t fit in.
-They gonna be on their best behavior.
-They’ll see that, they’ll take that.
-It’s just a difference
but some of them you can reach,
and some of them you still can talk to,
but the way I used to talk to
the ones and the ’90s
and into the 2000s is different than now.
Can’t talk to ’em.
-How do we bring it back?
[Woman] Get ’em in church!
Get ’em in church!
Get ’em with Jesus!
[Beverly] No, get a group of ’em
and show ’em something different.
They need to see something different.
We need some…
What are they?
How would I say it? They need some…
-They need leadership.
what I’m trying to say.
-That’s what we’re lacking in society.
-I feel it on all levels.
-From high up, all the way down.
-All the way down.
-From the federal government
I don’t see leadership.
-Kick them old heads out
and get in this young blood.
Somebody that knows,
somebody that been through it,
somebody done lived it.
You know what I’m saying?
How can you tell me about the streets
and you not from the streets?
-Where you from, ma’am?
-Okay, how’d you end up in Gary?
-My children were on drugs,
and they pretty well hustled their drugs,
and they treated me like sh*t.
So I ran off to Flint for a year,
then I got sick
and I ended up here in Gary.
-How’s Gary so far?
-Well Gary, you gotta watch your back.
You know, like when you go into
a store if you got your purse handy
you gotta watch your purse
’cause they’ll follow you around the store
to see just what you got, you know?
-Pick pocketers and stuff like that.
-Worse than Flint?
-Well it’s just as bad in Flint.
Just as bad.
I got stolen… They stole from me
I don’t know how many times
those drug people, they stole my TV,
they stole my children,
they stole everything.
-So Flint’s a pretty hard place now?
-Yeah, it is.
They’ll even kill
a guy delivering pizza for the money.
And sometimes the dope dealers
get into fights over customers.
You know, that’s how bad it gets.
-You’ve been doing this how long?
-Do you love it?
Don’t I love y’all?
Don’t I love y’all?!
Yeah baby, don’t I love you?
[Beverly] That’s Miss Barbara.
[Peter] Miss Barbara.
-How do you do? Good to meet you.
-You too, Miss Barbara?
You’re still working?
-Not a full-time job.
-What are you doing?
-Just bits and pieces.
-And you were saying employees,
hard to find?
-Hard to find,
young people don’t want to work.
They got this law
that pays rent assistance
and all this other free stuff, food stamp.
You know, they don’t want to work.
People are begging,
especially home health agency
are begging for workers.
-You need employees here?
-You work a lot?
-I work a lot, I work three jobs.
-I’m 65, I should be sitting–
-Barb’s got you beat.
-Dianna got two jobs.
I have a sister
that’s one year and one day younger.
I was born in 1940, June 6th.
-She was born 1941, June 7th.
-Year and a day.
-Still got our memory, good job.
-My mother had four girls
by the time she was 26.
-That’s a handful.
-Barb, I bet you were
a handful back in the day.
-No I wasn’t.
-I was very dependable.
-I could see you
tearing up a dance floor, not true?
[both] Oh yeah, baby!
-[Beverly] You tear up a dance floor.
-[both] Yeah, baby!
[boy] I like church music.
-Yeah, I’m a church drummer.
-You’re a church drummer, nice.
Is that church music you’re playing?
-Some of it is, I can play church music.
-Let’s hear it.
[Peter] All right guys,
here on the edge of Gary.
Just crossed the highway,
things changed quite a bit.
There’s a casino here,
the Hard Rock Casino.
What’s super interesting about
is that the Seminoles from Florida,
they own this.
They own the brand.
I don’t know if they
license out the brand or how that works.
And here you have people from,
I’m sure, all over the country.
When they’re driving to Chicago
or wherever, right off the highway.
It’s crazy that it has
that old world downtown
and then it also has this.
So like anything,
you can’t put an easy label on it.
♪ somber guitar ♪
-What do you got, bro?
-A bottle of water.
-You on YouTube or something?
-Yeah, you cool with that.
[Peter] Gary Works Steel Mill.
You can see it off in the distance there.
So in 1970 there were
30,000 workers at this plant.
The biggest in the world at one time.
1990, there 6,000.
Now I believe there are even less.
A lot due to the fact that
the production has ramped down,
and also due to automation.
Still the biggest steel plant
in North America though.
Wow, look at that.
What is that building?
Look like an old bank or perhaps
this is where the workers were paid.
If somebody knows,
please let us know in the comments.
Beautiful old building.
So Gary’s life expectancy
is on average 71.4 years.
Which is the lowest in the country.
Now the top in the country is 84.7 years,
that being Newton, Massachusetts.
So a lot of that has to do with
economics, environment, gun violence.
So Gary’s not doing so good
in that department unfortunately.
Look at this building, it is massive.
Got the highway over there.
Very industrial area.
A lot of commerce being moved through.
The US is such a mixed up place.
Chicago, right over there,
third biggest city in the country.
Gary, I mean what mixed up place.
I don’t think there’s anything like this,
this is a very unique town.
You take Miami and here,
it’s another universe,
or Los Angeles,
or Yellowstone, Grand Canyon.
There’s so many different ways of living.
There are so many different environments.
It’s pretty crazy
that it’s all under one roof per se.
It’s one country,
it’s a beautiful thing in my opinion.
That so many different places can coexist,
Through and through,
everywhere I go with these videos,
pretty much everyone is
open armed, easy to talk to.
You know there’s that “online reality”.
I’m using quotes on that one.
And then there’s
the on the ground reality.
And there’s a large gap right now.
More than ever
I think because of social media.
Because it’s much easier
for me just to show
the most down and out in Gary,
and just focus on that solely.
Not show the casino.
Not show where we’re going next.
Not show where we’re going next,
which is out at the lake.
From what I’ve heard, with nice homes…
Or got an opinion,
or gotten the locals to speak,
and talk about their town.
I mean I’m only here for a limited time,
I can only get so much.
It’s just a day shoot.
It’s always had
a bad reputation, that’s for sure,
but look at my day today,
just going up and talking to people.
Everyone’s been cool, you know?
I could get unlucky obviously.
There’s definitely edge here,
I’m not gonna deny that.
There is some roughness to the place.
But even in one of
the top three cities of homicide,
I believe it’s in the top three right now,
you can still come in here,
and talk to the people, and they open up.
The vast majority of people
here in Gary I’m sure are great people.
hard working people getting through life.
There are definitely some bad apples.
I didn’t have
the camera up at all times today.
There were some hard looks.
Uh, you know, those like,
“don’t touch the water” looks.
Don’t even try
to bring that camera around.
Which is understandable because when
most people come into a place like Gary,
or where I just was, Appalachia,
they’re very wary of,
“What’s your intention here?”
“Are you just going to
put us under the bus completely?”
And then once they get the vibe
that that’s not your goal,
wow, they really open up.
♪ somber guitar ♪
So this is Gary style,
you have that building
and then right next to it
we have the solar panels
and these new apartments.
How crazy is this?
Definitely not what we think of
when we think of Gary, Indiana.
Gary beach access, who knew?
The Garyians. did.
Sure these are
multi-million dollar places.
Well at least those two definitely are.
Chicago, way off in the distance,
sun setting west,
and a very fine sand.
Look at how fine this sand is.
Oh look at that,
the steel mill all the way down there too.
What a bizarre place.
All right guys, what a fascinating day.
Gary, you can’t really put a label on it.
A lot of old world feel.
Time seemed to slow down there,
streets were a bit wider, bit quieter.
It felt like almost it was
an exclusive place
as in that feeling like it was
removed from everything else.
I try to show you guys
as much diversity of content as possible.
I wanted to show you the wealth
of the casino, and of this area obviously.
But the main story of Gary is a town
that’s lost a lot of its population,
a lot of its jobs,
I don’t know, is it at the bottom?
Has it already rebounded a little?
Does it have more down to go?
Someone from here knows better than me.
Let us know.
Thanks for coming along
on that epic journey.
Until the next one.