In regions, cities and towns throughout the United States the historical significance of communities and neighborhoods is one of the many instrumental factors in community revitalization and economic development. Historic preservation can play an important role in creating jobs, businesses, and housing.
Typically, historical plaques and signs mark buildings, places, statues, and monuments that tell the life stories of people who once lived and worked there. In the historic Midtown neighborhood of Gary, Ind., these markers are not present. Given the absence of these symbolic representations, the Tour of Historic Midtown was developed to provide information about these sites and bring old memories to light, highlighting significant places from the African American experience in Gary. "The tour provides a view of historic Midtown-The Central District at an early point in time, and a vision of its potential for future revitalization and preservation similar to what is currently occurring in areas such as Bronzeville, Chicago and Harlem," said Dr. Earl Jones, professor of minority studies at IU Northwest.
Join Dr. Jones as he brings the past back to life during a tour of Gary’s Midtown neighborhood, Sat., Oct. 15 at 9:00 a.m. starting at IU Northwest Library Conference Center. Agenda of the tour is as follows:
9:00 a.m. – Continental Breakfast
9:30 a.m. - Welcome and Overview of the Historic Midtown Project
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Tour of Historic Midtown
11:30 a.m. Tour ends back at IU Northwest
“The intent of the Historic Midtown-Central District Project and Tour is to develop a strategic historic preservation and community economic development plan for the African American community of Gary, Ind.,” said Dr. Jones. “This will also include an educational curriculum for school students that specifically focus on the historical significance of the African American community.” An integral element of the project will be researching and highlighting the art and culture of Midtown and it will be infused into the curriculum and plans for historic preservation and community economic development.
Initial funding for the project was provided by a Historic Preservation Education Grant from the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the Indiana Humanities Council and the national Endowment for the Humanities.
Jones’ hope is that the project, along with the printed tour guide that has been developed, will spur discussions about the historic importance of Midtown. He also anticipates that these discussions will simultaneously lead to the formulating of concrete steps for historic preservation and the community economic development of Midtown. The expectation is that learning about the accomplishments of the people and institutions of Midtown will enhance a sense of community attachment, and pride in one's community and self esteem, thus resulting in heightened educational attainment, visions and accomplishments.
The Midtown tour is sponsored in part by the IU Northwest Department Minority Studies (Afro-American Studies Program)and is part of the Chancellor's Diversity Programming Series. For details please contact the Dr. Earl Jones at 219-980-6704.