Saturday, June 17, 2017

EXTRA: United States of America presence and ideals for which it stands?

GARY, Ind. -- It’s kind of depressing, if you think about it.
What it once was
But I spent a chunk of my day Saturday in downtown Gary, Ind., participating in a city tour of the area and the many structures remaining that have significant local history behind them -- but in many cases have become decayed and remain in ruins.
What it is today

WHILE IN ROME the millenniums-old Coliseum sports arena’s ruins are regarded as culturally significant, we can’t quite say the same for the structures that remain at the far southeastern corner of the metropolitan Chicago area. Although maybe we should?

I got to see the City Methodist Church whose ceiling long-ago collapsed and now has trees growing inside. There was the one-time Union Station that long-ago quit servicing passenger trains to New York City.

But the ruins that most caught my attention were the ones at 6th Avenue and Massachusetts Street just off the main strip along Broadway. Those were the ones of the building that for nearly five decades served as the U.S. Post Office for Gary and the surrounding northwest Indiana area.
Inside the Post Office

For like many post offices in smaller cities, the building also doubled as the offices of the U.S. government. Any federal agencies that felt the need to have a physical presence would have their office space on the upper floors, while the first floor was devoted to the delivery of the U.S. mail.

WHICH IS HOW it really breaks down for units of government, which may talk about high-minded ideals but usually have a specific function that most completes their use to the taxpaying public.
Watch your step!

For the state government, that’s the motor vehicles bureau within the Illinois secretary of state’s office. They issue us our driver’s licenses, identification cards and the license plates that we put on our automobiles.

For the feds, it’s the Post Office.
Suggestions for structure's future?

It really is a Federal Offense to tamper with the delivery of the mail, because we’re supposed to be able to count on reliable mail delivery – even though in today’s day and age there are those people who don’t have a problem with paying a larger fee to have their packages delivered by UPS or Federal Express.

YET THE CLASSIC old building in Gary is in ruins. The roof leaks, the upper floor is a wreck, the floor that separates it from the lower floor barely exists and the first floor where generations of people dropped off and picked up their mail is filthy and graffiti-ridden.

It almost looks like some post-apocalyptic vision of the collapse of our society, and these being the remains of the ideal once known as the United States of America.
Kept head safe and sound

The Gary Redevelopment Commission, as part of its preservation tour and with advice from the Chicago Architectural Foundation, actually allowed people to enter the Post Office that has been closed since 1970 – which is how I managed to get these images of the rubble.

Yes, I had to wear a “hard hat” to protect my head from the potential of falling debris (then also sign a waiver promising not to sue Gary, Ind., in the event I got injured).

NOTHING WOUND UP falling, but I did slip on the steps that are so chipped away as to barely be existent. Although if I had been hit in the head, I wonder if the results would have been similar to those of the famed baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean, who upon being hit in the head by a ball during a game supposedly produced headlines along the line of X-rays of Dean’s head reveal nothing.

It also amuses me to see how the Post Office managed to replace its classic structure with something so incredibly blah, and so much like the generic Post Office structures that exist in so many communities across the United States.
An architectural snoozer compared to its predecessor
Is this truly the image we want to give of our nation? Is this what we truly think of ourselves?

How “blah” can we get?!?


No comments: