Indiana-China Sister City: Gary, Indiana & Fuxin, Liaoning

garyBY ECHO LU

Gary is an Indiana city in Lake County, 25 miles (40 km) from downtown Chicago, Illinois. The population of Gary was 80,294 as of the 2010 census, making the city the ninth-largest city in the state of Indiana. Gary is adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and borders lake Michigan. The city is known for its large steel mills, and for being the birthplace of The Jackson 5 music group.

The United States Steel Corporation founded the City of Gary in 1906 as the home for its new plant, Gray Works. The city was named after lawyer Elbert Henry Gary ((October 8, 1846 – August 15, 1927), who was the founding chairman of the United States Steel Corporation.

Gary was the site of civil unrest in the Steel Strike of 1919. On October 4, 1919, a riot broke out on Broadway, the main north-south street through downtown Gary, between striking steel workers and strike breakers brought in from outside. Three days later Indiana governor James P. Goodrich (February 18, 1864 – August 15, 1940) declared martial law. Shortly thereafter, over 4,000 federal troops under the command of Major General Leonard Wood (October 9, 1860 – August 7, 1927) arrived to restore order.

Gary’s fortunes have risen and fallen with those of the steel industry. The growth of the steel industry brought prosperity to the community. Broadway was known as a commercial center for the region. Department stores and architecturally significant movie houses were built in the downtown area and the Glen Park neighborhood.

Downtown Gary is separated by Broadway into two separate communities. Originally, the City of Gary consisted of The East Side, The West Side, The South Side (the area south of the train tracks near 9th Avenue) and Glen Park, located further South along Broadway.

The 1996 urban movie Original Gangstas was filmed in the city. The movie starred Gary native Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Richard Roundtree, and Isabel Sanford, among others. Since the early 2000s, Gary was experienced a surge of Hollywood filmmakers wishing to shoot movies in the city. In 2009, scenes for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street were filmed in Gary. Scenes from Transformers: Dark of the Moon wrapped up filming on August 16,2010.

Gary is the hometown of The Jackson 5, a family of musicians who influenced the sound of modern popular music. In 1950, Joseph and Katherine Jackson moved from East Chicago, Indiana into their house at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, after they were married on November 5, 1949. The famous siblings would later record a song entitled “2300 Jackson Street” in 1989. The most notable Jackson family member is Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009), known as the King of Pop.

On July 1, 2008, Gary’s City Council passed a resolution that formalized the Sister City relationship with the City of Fuxin, Liaoning. Mayor Rudy Clay said the overseas agreement would open new economic opportunities for Gary. Clay visited China in May 2008 with about 20 other government and business leaders from Northwest Indiana and Chicago.

Fuxin is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Liaoning province, People’s Republic of China. The total population of the prefecture at the 2010 census is 1,819,339, of whom 669,317 are resident in the built up area, which comprises four urban districts, collectively known as “Fuxin City”.

Fuxin is a mining center in an agricultural region, producing mostly coal and agate. It is known as China’s “Agate City”, with 50% of the nation’s known deposits of the mineral being located there. The city also accounts for more than 90% of the country’s agate products.

The city suffers from the over-mining of coal, which is low in supply while fundamental to Fuxin’s economy. As the coalmines run dry, Fuxin is trying to find other industries to keep its economy going.

Foreign Direct Investment has enabled the development of new key industries to replace mining. The key industries have made new breakthroughs in foreign direct investment. The Wind Power Industry, which accounted for more than 70% of the total amount of FDI in 2009, has become the main focus of the whole city’s FDI.

As Gary faces the difficulties of a rust belt city, including unemployment, decaying infrastructure, and low literacy and educational attainment levels. The two sisters should hold hands and combine available sources to make the economy bloom again.

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