William Frederick Howat.

A standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) online

. (page 38 of 44)
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and uncertainty of the value of street improvement bonds. The tirst
streets and sewers were built in the woods, the trees lieing cut and right
of way gi^aded through sand hills and across sloughs in order to get a
roadway to haul materials, the prospect not being an enticing one either
to contractors or bond buyers.

"While Gary has paved a mileage of her streets equal to about one-
third the paved mileage of each of. the follomng cities: Minneapolis,
Memphis, Denver, Jei*sey City, Omaha, Atlanta, Richmond and Seattle,
this work has all been done in four years ; under a town government for
three years and under a fifth class city form for one year, making proper
organization for carrying on the work difficult.

"In most cities the procedure in building streets has been first to
grade and make a passable roadway, later graveling or macadamizing and
when the street has become well built up, to construct a modern pavement
on the foundation which has been thoroughly consolidated b}^ traffic. In
Gary, however, it has been necessary to construct many pavements imme-
diately, which is very well on solid ground but which does not give the
best results on marshy or filled ground, as there is more or less settlement
and consequent deterioration in such cases.

"However such a course could not be well avoided at the begiiming
as pavements of a. modern character were necessary for the very rapid
building up of the city, and for the deevlopment of the outlying property.

Work of tjie Engixeering Department

"The Engineering Department was created by the Board of Trustees
of the Town of Gary on August 18. 1906, A. P. Melton being appointed
toAvn engineer, and opening up the office October 1st of that year.

"At that time there was not an improved street, sewer or drain, large
portions of the town consisting of sand ridges and sloughs, impassable
except for a few sand trails through the woods, Hobart Road coming
north on what is now Broadway and turning west on Twenty-fifth Ave-
nue, being the only improved country road within the city limits. In this
wilderness enterprising real estate men had laid out hundreds of acres
into subdivisions of 'town lots' many years before, making their plats in
most cases from maps at the county seat and very seldom having an actual
survey made, with the result that many of the plats were decidedly inac-
curate, in that the plats did not conform one to another, and the various
streets, boulevards, and alleys laid out through the woods in the different
subdivisions were in many cases not co-terminous, each o\vner laying out
his property in such manner as to get the gxeatest number of lots.


' ' The department at once set al)Out to procure the official plats ou
record of all subdivisions and to locate the streets on the ground, having
much difficulty in interpreting vague descriptions, and in distributing
surplus and shortage, which occurred in nearly every case, as well as
the physical difficulties of making a way through the almost impenetrable
swamps and jungles. By the process of vacation and condemnation some
of the worst discrepancies were adjusted.

"The first office of the department was a space 8x12 feet in the office
of the old Police Station, which served until the spring of 1907, when one
of the school houses near Fourth and Broadway was preempted and used
until September when school started, and there being very few office
rooms to be had a friendly real estate man kindly offered the use of a
small room over the Bormann saloon at Tenth and Broadway, where the
work was carried on until the tirst of the year 1908, when the office was
moved to the Knotts Building at the corner of Seventh and Broadway,
where it remained until the City Ilall was completed, when permanent
quarters were moved into November 8, 1909."

The City Hall

Gary's City Hall and inuiiicipal headquarters at Seventh Avenue
and Massachusetts Street was built in 1908 and dedicated in 1909, cost-
ing $50,000. It is a substantial and rather striking structure of brick,
with stone trimmings, and contains not only the offices of the mayor
(with the Common Council chamber), clerk, treasurer, controller, engi-
neer and building connnissioner, l)ut the city jail and central head-
quarters for tlie police and fire departments. The other fire station is
at Nineteenth Avenue and Adams Street.

Gary Public Library

No institution in Gary can be named whose influence is broader or
better than the Public Library. It is a Carnegie foundation and is
housed in one of the finest structures of the kind in the state. The Gary
Public Library is a city institution, as it is maintained and controlled
by the municipality in a manner similar to other libraries founded by
the steel magnate, and whose generosity may have been somewhat gov-
erned by a fellow feeling for the founders of the city itself.

The library, both as an institution and a building, was of slow
growth — according to the Gary standard. The first meeting of the
board was held in March, 1908, its small collection of books being of-
fered to the public at a store room on West Seventh xVvenue. On Au-


gust 1, 1911, the library Avas moved to larger rooms at No. 64 Wash-
ington Street.

In the summer of 1910 Andrew Carnegie gave the new city $65,000,
under the usual conditions regulating gifts to libraries. At the same
time the Gary Land Company donated ten lots for a site, on Fifth Ave-
nue between Adams and Jefferson, the value of which was $35,000.
The architect of the classic building was Ilcnry i). Whitfield of New
York, and its construction was completed under the direct supervision
of J. J. Vei-plank, of Gary. It was dedicated on the 17th of November,
1912, with an address by Rev. John Cavanaugh, president of Notre Dame
University. Besides Mr. Carnegie's donation, the Library Board ex-
pended over three tliousaiid dollars in tlie completion and furnishing of
the building.

The Gary Library, which comlnnes in its architecture some of the
classic features with the English Gothic, has three floors — the first,
containing an auditorium for 300 people and used by various clubs and
social organizations for their meetings, besides bookcases, work rooms
and other equipment ; the second floor, embracing the main lilirary de-
partment, with references reading and delivery rooms; and the third
floor, which includes a large club room, art collections and additional
storage space.

The library building has a book capacity of 60,000 volumes, with an
actual collection of some twenty-three thousand. In December, 1910,
the library facilities were extended by the establishment of the Tolleston
branch, with a collection of 1,500 volumes accessible three days in the
week. More recently, a library station was opened in the Emerson
School as a direct service to the public educational system of Gary. The
Froebel School has also been similarly accomnmdated. The entire annual
circulation of books by the Gary Public Library is now about 160,000
volumes. As well stated hy a friend and admirer of the institution,
"These figures prove that the Gary Public Library is performing its serv-
ice to the people, and the spirit of the entire management is one to invite
increased use of the institution, rather than to make it exclusive for a
certain portion of the population." Much of this work of broad public
usefulness is credited to the librarian, Louis J. Baih^v. who has been the
active head of the institution since its inception.

The (Jary Public School System

There is probably not a well posted educator in the country who is
not to some extent familiar with the facilities and the quality of instruc-
tion offered to the rising generation through the Gary schools. The


educational service afforded by the Gary public schools is unsurpassed
by those in any of the larger cities and most progressive communities in
the United States, and the local system has again and again been a sub-
ject of description and comment not only in school journals but in the
general newspaper press.

It is probable that no community of its size in America has a more
cosmopolitan population to serve through its public schools than Gary.
The 20,000 inhabitants of tliis city represent at least thirty-eight na-
tionalities, and it is an important fact that not alone the second genera-
tion of these polyglot people supply the scholastic enrollment of the
schools, but hundreds of these immigrants themselves, earning their daily
livelihood by work in the mills and factories, attend the various classes
of instruction offered by the public schools and through other organized
educational centers of the city.

To provide the schoolhouses and the other material equipment for the
educational service of such a community is alone a tremendous achieve-
ment for a new conununity like Garv', and in this article first attention
will be called to the economic side of the public school.

During the fiscal year of 1912-13, the city of Gary spent the sum of
$195,343.01 in the permanent improvement of the various school build-
ings of the city. Of this amount the larger portion w^as spent on the
Froebel School, and with such improvements the various school proper-
ties of the city are v^ilued as follows: Froebel, $340,000; Emerson, $320,-
000; Jefferson, $120,000: Beveridge. $21,000; Glen Park, $15,000; Am-
bridge, $2,000; West Gary, $2,000; Clarke Station, $3,000; Twelfth Ave-
nue. $400; School Farm, $22,000; Buffington, $100; Twenty-first Ave-
nue, $1,000: Fourteenth Avenue. $3,000. The total valuation of school
properties in Gary is $831,800.

The records for the various schools show that during the year just
mentioned 4.188 children were enrolled, distributed as follows: Froebel,
on Madison Street, 1,260 ; Emerson, Seventh Avenue, 961 ; Jefferson, on
the street by that name. 728; Beveridge, Roosevelt Street, 516; Glen
Park. Broadway and Thirty-ninth Avenue, 145; Ambridge, in the
suburb founded by the American Bridge Company, 87 ; West Gary, Ninth
Avenue, 27; Clarke Station, Tenth Place, 28; Twenty-fourth Avenue,
336 ; Twelfth Avenue, 93.

The total cost of instrm-tion in the Gary schools was $104,370.55, of
which amount more than one hundred thousand dollars was paid out as
salaries to teachers, su]x^rvisors and principals. Besides these sums the
operation of the schools cost $28,881.01, Avhile the maintenance of the
schoolhouses and grounds cost $7,531.01. The evening schools and the
summer schools are an expensive hut useful feature of the Gary school



system. In the evening schools a total of 1,873 pupils were enrolled, and
through these classes many individuals received a semblance of education
that otherwise they would not have received at all. Records also show
that more than four thousand dollars were spent in medical examination
of school children.

Emerson and Froebel, Schools

Perhaps none of the Gary schools have attracted more attention than
the Emerson, on Seventh Avenue between Carolina and Georgia streets,
and the Froebel, between Fifteenth and Nineteenth avenues and Madi-
son and Van Buren streets. The Emerson school, with grounds, occu-
pies a city block, the magnificent building being erected at a cost of
$250,000. Its interior arrangements include manual training shops,
science laboratories, perfectly ventilated study rooms, a gjannasium and
swimming pool and a handsome auditorium, while without, are pretty
and well-kept gardens antl spacious playgrounds, provided with the best
modern apparatus for the exercise and amusement of boys and girls.
The playgrounds are open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and

The Froebel scliool is of later date than the Emerson is, and if pos-
sible, even more elaborate in construction and settings. The building,
with grounds, comprises ten acres, or two liloeks, and the property is
valued at $300,000. Besides all the features noted in connection with
the Emerson school, it has two gymnasiums and two swimming pools.
The school and recreation hours, which are observed by these institutions,
as well as the other schools in the Gary system, are from 8 A. M. to 12 M.,
from 1 to 5 and 7 to 9 P. M.

System Described by Slterintendent Wirt

In many American communities, education has been conducted on
such traditional and routine lines that it would be difficult to secure
satisfying answer to the query, what is the aim and purpose of the
school system ? In a recent educational report of the Lake County
schools. Superintendent William A. Wirt, an energetic and original
Hoosier educator, who came to Gary soon after its birth to meet the
educational wants of a varied populace and has created a remarkably
eifective system, succinctly and earnestly answers that question from his
studies and experience at the steel city. "In Gary," he says, "the
schools try to appropriate the street and alley time of the child by pro-
viding opportunities for work and play as well as opportunities for study.


"In cities and towns the home no longer provides the opportunities
for the wholesome work and play of children. Character is formed while
the child is active. The acquisition of good character consists largely in
the forming of habits of doing the right thing at the right time. In the
customary- exclusive study school the child is passive, sitting in a school
seat. The physical habits formed in such an environment are habits of
inactivity acquired from sitting quiet during the school life of twelve
years. Only a few children are so book-minded that they are able to
form habits of mental activity from the study of books alone. The mental
habits formed by the average child in a straight-jacket school seat are
largely those of day dreaming. In the cities of the United States the
child averages about two and one-half hours per day for the three hun-
dred and sixty-five days of the year in a straight-jacket school seat. The
habits of activity are formed in the streets and alleys, and for the form-
ing of such activities the child has about five hours per day for the three
hundred and sixty-five days in the year, or double his school time.

"The home lost the opportunity for character l)uilding when it gave
up the industrial training of its children and failed to provide for the
child's play. Society seems to be so organized in cities and towns that
the civic care of the child must now take over industrial training and
play. But this additional burden need not be assumed by the established
school. The child may live a part of his life in the home, may study in
school for two and one-half hours a day, and may learn to work in a
separate trade school and play in a playground park for the five hours
of the street and alley time. The character forming influence of the
street and alley time will be removed and wholesome activities substituted
without any additional burden on the established school. In some cities
the schools have in a very limited way attempted to provide opportunities
for industrial training by manual training courses, and in a limited
degree some opportunities for play have been provided by physical train-
ing supervisors. But the manual training equipment and teachers, the
play facilities and supervisors have added to the annual per capita cost
of the established schools. Further progress in this direction seems out
of the question unless a much larger financial expenditure is made possi-
ble by higher school tax levies. Unfortunately the time for industrial
training and play now given by the established schools comes out of the
short two and one-half hours' school time and does not encroach on the
harmful street and alley time. To eliminate the street and alley time of
the child by industrial schools and playground parks provided by other
civic bodies than the schools relieves the schools of the burden but in-
creases the expenditure for the civic care of the child by raising the
taxes of the civic bodies providing these facilities.



•'It is the conviction of the Gary si-hool management that not only
is the wholesome character building of the child inseparably linked with
his work and his play, but that for the great majority of children, the
mastery of the academic school subjects cannot be separated from work
and play. The cliild must want to know and must be willing to put forth

Flank F. lU'iglnvay. County Superinluntk-nt of Scliools.

FoivK Dances, Emerson School, Gary

eifort to learn the things the established school has to teach. The child
himself is the greatest factor in the learning process. He must educate
himself. No teacher can do this for him. Adults often say that if they
had their school days to live over again they would improve their oppor-
tunities better than they did. AVhat a pity that when we now as adults


want to educate ourselves we do not have the opportunity. AVlieu we
had the opportuuit}- to educate ourselves we did not want to. Cannot
something be done to prevent the recurrence of this tragedy in the lives
of the children today ? Is it not possible for children to want to edu-
cate themselves right now while they have the opportunity ? Talking to
them al)out the importance of an education will not have much more influ-
ence with them than it had with us. No one questions the fact that as
children we were talked to enough about the value of an education. The
reason why we are willing to educate ourselves no^v as adults is not be-
cause some one has talked to us about the matter, nor because we have
read about it in a book. It is because every day of our lives we are dis-
appointed in that we cannot do the things we would like to do or get the
things we would like to have because of our inability and lack of training.
We have discovered that we need a well-trained, capable mind and well-
trained' capable hand for success in life. If the child is to appreciate the
opportunities of the school he must feel the need right now for the things
the school is teaching or should teach. To tell him that he Avill find out
and realize in twent}' years hence wdll not do. In the child's play and in
Jiis work all sorts of needs for the academic school studies can be created.
The child cannot do the things that he would like to do or get the things
that he would like to have, because he has not mastered the academic
school subjects. The child can be bitterly disappointed every day because
of his inability and lack of training and can be sent to his teacher of the
academic subjects with a vivid, real appreciation of the importance to
him of the things the school has to teach. When the child wants to know
and is willing to put forth an effort to learn the things the school should
teach, then the teaching process becomes a simple matter. The Gary
schools include the workshop and playground along with the study room,
not because they wish to sugar-coat the study with sentimental play and
work. The study room schools need 'the workshop and playground to
motivize the school studies. We do not wish to ronove tlie difficulties
from the school, but we do wish to increase the child's power so that he
can put forth sufficient effort to master the difficulties and find great joy
in so doing.

"The school cannot crowd into the study room time of two and one-
half hours a day the workshop and the playground time. The five hours
of the street and alley time are sorely needed for the workshop and play-
ground activities. Besides the street and alley time is undoing the
go(od work of the home and school and nnist by all means be eliminated.
The §chool day in Gary is, therefore, three hours for study, three hours
for work and constructive play and two liours for voluntary sport. The
schools in Garv liave onlv half as many study rooms, only half as many


school desks as there are children enrolled. While one set of children
are in the school seats in the study room learning- to read, write and
ligiire from formal drill and text books, another set lof children are on
the playgrounds, in the gymnasiums, swimming* pools, auditoriums, gar-
dens, science laboratories and workshops. All of the school facilities
are occupied all of the time. The pupil capacity of the study room is

"The school plants are open from 8 A. M. to 5 P. M., and from
7 P. M. to 9 :30 P. M. The enrollment for adults for evening activities
almost equals the enrollment of children for day school activities. The
school plant designed for the study, work and play of children in the
day school is also admirably adapted for adult use at night. The unit
school plant in Gary accommodates the day nursery, the kindergarten,
the common school grades and the high school in each l)uilding. The
facilities provided for the older children during the day are designed for
use of adults at night. These facilities include gymnasiums, swinnuing
pools, science laboratories, auditoriums and large corridors and rooms
for receptions, dances and j^arties, entertainuKMits and club rooms. The
folloAving workshops are provided: Carpentry, caljinetmaking, steam
and gas titling, plumbing, printing, machine lifting, electrical work,
foundry, forging, painting, sheet metal work, doniestie s/ience and art,
laundry, mechanical and architectural drawing, industrial mathematics,

"The Gary schools try to give the diildi-en an opj^ortunity to do
many kinds of work and lind out the things for which they are' best
fitted. AYe believe that it is just as important for a boy to have a
chance to try painting, for instance, and learn that it is not the work for
which he is fitted, as it is for other boys who should l)e painters to have
a chance to learn the trade. AVe do not wish to assume the responsibility
of vocational guidance, but try to provide an opportunity for intelligent
vocational selection.

"Since groups of pupils of all ages are playing, working and studjdng
all of the time during the school hours, special provision can be made
for exceptional children. A child who is weak physically and not able
to play can give the entire school time to the playground, gymnasium,
garden and workshops. A child who is weak in arithmetic or any
other subject can be given extra time in other classes in arithmetic or
the particular subjects needing such extra time. Each child can have
just the amount of work in each department and the kind of work that
he individually needs.

"It is also possible to make any combination of classes in any sub-
jects. Fourth and eighth grade pupils, for instance, may be combined


in science and shop work and separated in other subjects. When the
work in any subject is_of such a character that younger children can
learn better by working with older children, they have the opportunity.
The direct teaching of the instructor is supplemented by the uncon-
scious education of living in a world of wholesome play, work and study.
The indirect teaching of the older children is of great value to the
younger, and the responsibility thus assumed has the highest educational
value for the older children. We try to give the children not a play-
ground, not a shop, not a study room, but a life."

Large Slav Element

To understand one of the great diiSculties under which Superintend-
ent AVirt has had to contend in organizing a ' ' working system ' ' of public
education for the City of Gary, it is only necessary to recall the fact that
of the large foreign-born population of the place fully sixty-five per cent
are Slavs, msmy of them fresh immigrants and quite ignorant, and that
this great horde rushed into Gary substantially within a period of five
years. It is needless to tell the intelligent American that the representa-
tives of that race naturally increase with great rapidity, as the women
become mothers early and often, so that the problem of educating the
children is a constant and perplexing one. It is estimated that the divi-
sion of the Slavs who have settled at Gary is substantially as follows:
Servians and Croatians, 5,000; Poles, 3,000; Bohemians, 3,000; Slavo-
nians, 2,500 ; Hungarians. 1,500 ; Macedonians, 1,000.


There are a number of institutions which, although not identified with
the city officially, have so contributed to its metropolitan standing and
its development that it seemsi appropriate to mention them at this stage

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 38 of 44)