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Welcome to Lake County, Indiana's
Memories of Markstown

This page will discuss Markstown Indiana by those who knew it and have fond memories of being there.

From Jackie:
"Actually Marktown was built for Youngstown's Bosses and the elite people of the Steel Industry and Sunnyside also in East Chicago was built like Marktown but for the Inland Bosses."
"It was a little town in between the Harbor and Whiting.They had a little grocery store called Steves Grocer,they had Malley's Malt shop where I lived(teehee),I hung around the the owners daughter Kathleen.A beautiful hotel, now considered a you know what? A restaurant called MillGate Inn in which my grandmother was a waitress.They had two huge parks one on each side of town with lots of playground equipment,thats where we held the annual Markstown picnics in which I won the pie eating contest for many years in a row,and til this day I cannot look at a blueberry pie.I am only 43 but I have so many good memories of that town."
A few Historic Landmarks in Northwest Indiana
Marktown Historic District, bounded by Pine, Riley, Dickey and 129th streets in East Chicago; built in 1888 1926

Some Street names Courtesy of Jackie as well!

"Ten mile per hour speed limit-- Marktown streets.
A speed limit of ten miles per hour is enacted for all Marktown streets, namely:
Pine Avenue; Spruce Avenue; Oak Avenue; Lilac Street; Grove Street; School Street; Park Street; Liberty Street; Spring Street; Prospect Street; Broad Street.
Speed limits on 129th Street, Dickey Road and Riley Road are not affected by this section. (Ord. 3107 4, 1976)"

Still more from Jackie (She's done her homework!!):

The Calumet region steel industry developed rapidly in the twentieth century. By the 1920s, it was beginning to eclipse the Pittsburgh District for steel production. Plants developed in the Calumet region were able to employ the latest, most efficient technology, because they were established relatively late and had the benefit of large open spaces.

Adequate areas of flat land, provided with transportation facilities which permit the assembling of raw materials and the marketing of finished products over a wide area with relative ease, and an abundance of suitable water, in addition to adequate labor supplies, all have proved great assets. Although the sources of ore are distant, this material can be obtained relatively cheaply owing to lake transportation facilities. Coal, too, is distant and comes part of the way or all of the way by rail. This is the chief handicap under which the Calumet District labors in competition with the Pittsburgh Steel District, but the later development of the former has given it a more modern equipment, permitting the adoption of the latest practices for reducing costs of production, and thus largely, if not entirely, offsetting the handicap with reference to coal. (John Appleton, The Iron and Steel Industry of the Calumet District, 1925 p. 14)

To meet the needs of industry, harbors at Lake Calumet, East Chicago and Buffington were constructed; channels such as the Indiana Harbor Channel, Burns Ditch, the Cal-Sag Channel, and various modifications to the Calumet River were created; railroads were relocated to accommodate the Gary steel works; sand dunes were leveled and marshes were filled throughout the region; and the Lake Michigan shoreline extended as represented at Indiana Harbor and Gary. Steel production results in large quantities of waste rock, or slag, which requires disposal. In the Calumet region, the marshes and open, shallow lakefront were considered ideal for "reclaiming" and "improving ," and much of the slag was used for fill. Other slag was re-used in the production of cement and fertilizer.

The cost of iron and steel production in the Calumet region was the lowest in the country due to low transportation costs and modern facilities. In 1906, US Steel Corporation built the world's largest integrated steel mill at Gary, Indiana, with a capacity to produce over one million tons of steel ingots. Not only was this significant for US Steel, it was considered a milestone for the entire steel industry. This plant was laid out so that the production process from handling raw materials to shipping finished products could flow uninterrupted, thereby avoiding the need to backhaul or retrace steps, or to reheat the material at different stages. Internationally, this plant was regarded as a model of efficiency and was emulated in the Soviet Union and in Weimar, Germany after World War I.

When the Soviet Union embarked on a Five-Year Plan [1928] that specified mammoth regional systems of technology based on hydroelectric power and prodigiously rich stores of Siberian natural resources, it turned to American consulting engineers and industrial corporations for advice and equipment. The Soviets constructed entire industrial systems modeled on the steel works in Gary, Indiana, and hydroelectric projects on the Mississippi. (Thomas Hughes, American Genesis, A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970, p 8-9)

With the steel plant at Gary, the regional electrification system, large-scale industrial installations, and revision of the landscape, the Calumet region represented the essence of what has been described by Thomas Hughes as America's most notable and character-forming achievement—the transformation of a wilderness into a building site. Hughes described a "second discovery of America" by Europeans, and Russians, as a nation of technology. The Calumet region is representative of this quintessential American industrial development.

The enormous production achieved at the Gary plant was a significant factor in the success of the Calumet region as a center of steel production. The Calumet region was well-situated to take advantage of the newly created steel market in the automobile industry in Detroit. Consequently, as the twentieth century progressed, the Calumet region became the largest steel-producing area in the world.

As plants were built in what was then considered a remote, empty region, towns developed to house workers close to the factories. Often the towns were sponsored or controlled by the companies, such as at Pullman, Hegewisch, Marktown and Gary. These towns were constructed on large tracts of open land purchased by corporations, developed by their real estate divisions and, in some cases, owned by the companies for decades. During the 1930s and 1940s, the federal government erected some notable public housing complexes in the region as part of its efforts to provide affordable housing during the Depression as well as workers housing adjacent to important industrial facilities during World War II. Table 1 contains a listing of historically important worker communities and public housing facilities in the region.

Comparison of Worker Communities and Public Housing in the Calumet Region

Town Size Date Company Comment

Pullman 1750 units, 5500 workers 1881-1884 Pullman Palace Car Company & Allen Paper Car-Wheel Company Solon S. Bemen, architect, Nathaniel Barrett, landscape architect; sold by company in 1907 Hegewisch 1600 acres 1883-1884 United States Rolling Stock Company (Adolph Hegewisch) lots sold individually; failure to develop canals to Wolf Lake and Lake Michigan curtailed growth Gary over 55,000 people by 1920 1906-1914 Gary Land Company, a subsidiary of Indiana Steel, a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation more of a city than a neighborhood, with private development of civic, commercial, and residential areas, according to a plan by the Gary Land Company Marktown 100 homes, 40 acres 1917 Mark Manufacturing Company (now Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company) Howard Van Doren Shaw, architect; sold by company in 1941

Public Housing
Trumbull Park Homes 426 units 1938 Public Works Administration Altgeld Gardens 1500 units in 165 buildings 1942-1945 Chicago Housing Authority with the National Housing Agency & the Federal Public Housing Authority Naess and Murphy, architects

The Marktown Historic District, listed in the National Register in 1975, is an example of an early 20th century industrial sponsored development. Today, it is completely surrounded by industrial development, but is remarkably intact and still features a dense spatial arrangement of dwellings, yards and streets. Another National Historic District, listed in 1994, is the Gary City Center Historic District- the commercial area developed originally by the Gary Land Company, whose headquarters building was also listed in the National Register in 1979. A two-block stretch of residences remaining from the Gary Land Company development has been recognized in the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory.

YES Based on NR determination of eligibility and draft public housing context.

Marktown Historic District
East Chicago, Bounded by Pine, Riley, Dickey, and 129th Streets. Private Residential Community development workers housing Early 20th century industrial, planned community designed by noted architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. Remarkably intact and surrounded by industry.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Need context about planned industrial communities.

Marktown Preservation Society
c/o Paul Meyers
405 Prospect
East Chicago, Ind. 46312-1626

For more info you can go here:

Still more from Jackie:

Publication Date: 04/29/90
"Memories of Marktown. Library exhibit looks back at an ideal

MARKTOWN - Memories of what was hailed as "an ideal city" by architects and industrialists of the day will be on display with the exhibit "Marktown - The Architect, The Builder and the People."
The exhibit will open May 5 at the East Chicago Main Library. An opening presentation, including a slide program, will begin at 1 p.m. Immediately following the opening of the exhibit will be a free walking/driving tour of the Marktown Historic District.
"People will drive around the perimeter of the town and see three of the original supervisors' homes, garage and boarding house and center park," said Paul Myers, a Marktown resident and member of the Marktown Preservation Society.
Myers' Marktown home will also be open that Sunday to the public. Visitors will feel comfortable walking the six streets on the tour, as the streets in Marktown were originally conceived more for walking than driving. Ripley's Believe It Or Not cited Marktown as being the only street in Indiana where "people park on the sidewalks and walk in the street." Myers said the homes were built with open street-side porches that created an open and friendly atmosphere in the small community.
"It was an English garden concept with its narrow streets," he said. "You could talk to your neighbors sitting on their porches as you walked by. Originally there were no exterior fences."
The old-world flavor inside Marktown contrasts with its neighboring industrial sites, Amoco Oil and LTV Steel. Originally designed as a community for workers of Mark Manufacturing Company in 1917, its architect Howard Van Doren Shaw traveled to Europe where he conceived his original plan of design.
"It was designed to house 8,000 employees, but only 10 percent of the design was ever executed," Myers said. "But everything that was built still exists today, except for the fountain at Market Square."
"One unifying thing about Marktown is the architecture," he said. "You're so close to your neighbors that it's impossible to isolate yourself."
The one- and two-level homes, most with stucco exteriors, were unique. Their amenities featured running water, inside plumbing and service for electricity and gas. Part of the home design featured quaint French windows throughout the house.
"There was supposed to be an area for supervisors which were larger homes, but only three were ever built," Myers said. "The rest were for skilled craftsmen and senior workers, not for laborers."
Rents were minimal, and according to a 1926 publication "there is always a waiting list."
The "company town" went public in 1942 when it was sold by Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company to a real estate firm. "Right after the war you had servicemen returning home and starting families," Myers said. "You couldn't even buy a house in Marktown then because there weren't any available." Memorabilia from families, some of whom still reside in the community, are just part of the huge exhibit. Old photos and mementos from church and fraternity groups and objects dealing with community arts will be on display. Personal items of Clayton Mark, the owner of Mark Manufacturing Company are also being lent to the exhibit.
"We have an original sketch book of Howard Van Doren Shaw from 1879 that shows an original house drawing he did when he was just 10 years old," said Myers.
Myers, who said that at one time five generations of his family were "in yelling distance" of each other in Marktown, has put in 10 years of research for the upcoming exhibit.
"It was a fantastic place to live," he said. "This is my first chance to take this research to the public and tell what a unique community this really is. We want to encourage people to preserve and restore the architectural and social heritage of the community.
"The reason behind the exhibit is to increase the awareness within and without the community itself as to its architectural, industrial and social past, present and in preparation for its future."
The exhibit will continue at the library until June 3."

If you have memories of living in, or frequenting, Markstown...Feel free to send them to me with "Memories of Markstown" in the subject line.

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