Gary, Indiana, is a pretty scary place.
NBC News recently profiled the depressed city near Chicago for its Poverty In America series, reporting that about 6,500 of the 7,000 properties the city owns are abandoned, and Gary officials are thinking about auctioning the buildings off for $1 because the city doesn’t have the money to demolish them.
Things are getting so bad that Gary officials are thinking about cutting off city services to about 40 percent of the city’s land and moving residents to more viable parts of Gary, NBC reports. This is a drastic move, but it may be necessary as the thousands of abandoned properties are attracting criminals.
Gary’s deterioration is not a new story. The city’s economy was decimated when the steel industry collapsed. Gary has lost 55% of its population since the city’s peak in 1960. Back then, 178,320 lived in Gary. By 2010, the population had dropped to just 80,294. Gary might have lost even more people since then — U.S. Census estimates put the 2012 population at 79,170.
U.S. Steel used to be a big employer in Gary, providing jobs to 25,000 people. Now, just 5,000 work for the company, according to NBC. Competition overseas led to massive layoffs in the steel industry.
The city is trying to stage a come-back, of course. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told NBC that she’d like to see the population get back up to 100,000.