Gary, the Most American of All American Cities

Gary, the Most American of All American Cities

S. Paul O'Hara
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/06/2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22288-6
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U.S. Steel created Gary, Indiana. The new steel plant and town built on the site in 1906 were at once a triumph of industrial capitalism and a bold experiment in urban planning. Gary became the canvas onto which the American public projected its hopes and fears about modern, industrial society. In its prime, Gary was known as "the magic city," "steel’s greatest achievement," and "an industrial utopia"; later it would be called "the very model of urban decay." S. Paul O’Hara traces this stark reversal of fortune and reveals America’s changing expectations. He delivers a riveting account of the boom or bust mentality of American industrialism from the turn of the 20th century to the present day.

Author Bio

S. Paul O'Hara is Assistant Professor of History at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.


“A riveting account of the boom or bust mentality of industrialism through the stark reversal of fortune of Gary, Indiana from "the magic city" and "steel's greatest achievement" to "the very model of urban decay."”

“This book is a very good and delightful rendition of how Gary has been/is perceived by the media and those outside of its region.”
 — Stephen G. McShane, co-author of Steel Giants

“Until very recently . . . work probing the cultural dimensions of metropolitan change has been largely absent from the canon of urban and suburban studies. With Gary, the Most American of All American Cities, historian S. Paul O'Hara offers a deeply researched, carefully narrated corrrective that is both insightful and important. ”
 — Technology and Culture

“O'Hara draws on a wonderful array of vignettes and quotes from writers, celebrities, visitors, and the media to illustrate, with good effect, the different views of Gary. ”
 — Business History Review

“O'Hara has produced a highly readable and engaging account appropriate for adoption in courses about twentieth-century American culture and urban history. ”
 — Indiana Magazine of History

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Table of Contents


Introduction: "Built as It Is on Shifting Sand"

Part 1. Gary, the Magic City: Creation Myths
1. "An Industrial Utopia": The Search for Industrial Order
2. "Making a City to Order": U.S. Steel and the Building of an Industrial Center

Part 2. A City Built on Sand: Paradox and Meaning
3. "The Youngest City in the World": The Early Years of an Industrial Frontier
4. "The Gibraltar of the Steel Corporation": Narrative Meaning in a Steel Strike
5. "You're a Damned Liar--It's Utopia": Imagining Industrialism between the Wars

Part 3. The Very Model of Modern Urban Decay: Decline and Fall
6. "Gary Is a Steel City, Young, Lusty, Brawling": Declension Narratives about Gary
7. "Epitaph for a Model City": Race, Deindustrialization, and Dystopia

Conclusion: "In Search of America"

Selected Bibliography

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