The Park

History

The lakeshore in the Miller neighborhood of Gary, Indiana, including Marquette Park, has a long history of recreation, even before it officially became a park.  The timeline below illustrates the evolution of Marquette Park.

Timeline

1865 - 1920

The first road to modern day Marquette Park was constructed in 1865, when settlers first began populating the lakefront area.  At the turn of the century, Octave Chanute flew gliders and biplanes off of the dunes in Miller Beach.  Alice Mabel Gray, “Diana of the Dunes,” retreated to the dunes for a life of solitude.  The area also attracted recreation seekers.  Carr’s Bathhouse at the north end of Lake Street was the area’s most popular lakefront destination with bathing facilities, a dance hall, and beach cottages.  In 1912, recognizing the recreational potential of the lakefront, City of Gary leaders assembled a committee to create a recreational area with access to the lakefront. After much discussion about how to secure lakefront property, U.S. Steel purchased 116 acres and donated the land to the City of Gary, setting the stage for what is now Marquette Park.

  1. 1865

    image
    A gravel road is constructed from Lake
    Street to the Grand Calumet River,
    along with a 200-foot wooden bridge.
    (Lake St. Gallery)
  2. 1874

    image
    Robert and Drusilla Carr are
    married. The Carrs live as
    squatters along the lakefront for
    more than forty years, claiming the
    title to more than 200 acres by right
    of possession.(Lake St. Gallery)
  3. 1875

    image
    Octave Chanute, a pioneer in aviation
    engineering, flies gliders off the
    seventyfive foot sand dunes in
    Miller Beach. Chanute's early
    experiments and future collaboration
    with the Wright Brothers is
    critical to the success of aviation.
    (Lake St. Gallery)
  4. 1890

    image
    The sand dunes at Miller Beach are
    covered with white pine and cedar.

    Late in the decade, a movement
    begins to protect the region's
    unique dune lands and plant ecology.
    (Calumet Regional Archives-IUN)
  5. 1903

    image
    One of the most fabled residents
    of the Miller dunes is the recluse,
    Alice Mabel Gray or "Diana of the
    Dunes." Gray left the urban world
    for a life of solitude in the dunes.
    (Lake St. Gallery)
  6. 1906

    image
    Gary is founded and named after U.S.
    Steel Chairman Elbert H. Gary. Gary
    Works is built on the Lake Michigan
    shore. Thousands of workers begin
    the monumental task of leveling dunes,
    filling swamps, building steel mills,
    moving the Grand Calumet, extending
    the lakefront, and installing the
    necessary infrastructure for new
    industrial, commercial, and residential
    areas. (Calumet Region Archives-IUN)
  7. 1910

    image
    Carr's Bathhouse at the north
    end of Lake Street is Miller's
    most popular lakefront destination.
    The family operates bathing facilities,
    a dance hall, miniature railroad,
    shooting gallery, roller rink, pleasure
    boat and beach cottages.
    (Calumet Region Archives-IUN)
  8. 1912

    image
    Mayor Thomas Knotts appoints
    William P. Gleason, Superintendent
    of U.S. Steel, as President of
    the first Board of Park Commissioners.
    Gleason assembles a committee to
    create a recreational area with
    access to the lakefront in Miller,
    setting the stage for what is now,
    Marquette Park.
    (Calumet Region Archives-IUN)
  9. 1914

    image
    The trip to
    Miller Beach is an
    arduous journey
    over sand dunes.
    The first automobiles
    access Miller
    Beach on the
    Lake Front Trail.
    (Cal. Region Archives-IUN)
  10. 1918-1920

    image
    Gary annexes Miller, which begins
    condemnation proceedings against 179
    acres north of what is now the
    Marquette Park lagoon. Residents
    oppose the condemnation, so US Steel
    purchases 116 acres and donates the
    land to the City of Gary during a
    special park commission meeting. In
    October 1920, work on Lake Front
    Park begins with the leveling of a
    large sand dune south of the future
    Bathing Pavilion.
    (Cal. Region Archives-IUN)

1920 - 2009

In the early 1920s work began on Lake Front Park including the leveling of the sand dune south of the future Gary Bathing Beach Pavilion (the current day Aquatorium). Construction on the Bathing Beach Pavilion continued through 1921 and the facility opened to the public on June 17, 1922. Following the construction of the Bathing Beach Pavilion was the construction of the Recreation Pavilion, completed in 1924. During the Great Depression, Works Progress Administration labor was used for improvements in the park. Also during this time, Lake Front Park was renamed in honor of Pere Jacques Marquette. A monument was erected in his honor in 1932. In 1941, the City of Gary purchased additional lakefront land northwest of the lagoon, extending to Lake Street.

During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Marquette Park fell into a period of disrepair. The Gary Bathing Beach Pavilion closed and was actually considered for demolition in 1971. In 1991 the Chanute Aquatorium Society formed and raised funds to rehabilitate the Aquatorium.

  1. 1921-1922

    image
    George Washington
    Maher and Son designs
    the Gary Bathing
    Beach Pavilion.

    On June 17, 1922,
    the Bathing Beach
    Pavilion is formally
    dedicated and opened
    to the public.(Calumet
    Region Archives-IUN)
  2. 1924

    image
    Construction begins
    on the George
    Washington Maher and
    Sons designed
    Recreation Pavilion.
    Architectural elements
    include twin turrets,
    porte-cochere arches,
    balconied terraces,
    and a sweeping
    stairway leading to the
    edge of the lagoon.
    (Cal.Reg. Archives-IUN)
  3. 1928-1929

    image
    George Kuny works on
    the landscaping at
    Marquette Park.

    The Great Depression
    begins. Federal aid in
    the form of WPA
    labor is used for
    improvements
    in Marquette Park.
    (Geo. Kuny
    Gary Post-Tribune)
  4. 1930-1932

    image
    Lake Front Park is
    renamed in honor of
    Father Jacques
    Marquette, one of
    the earliest French
    Jesuit missionaries.
    Henry Hering was
    commissioned to
    create a sculpture of
    Father Marquette and
    Walker and Weeks to
    design the decorative
    limestone base.
    (Cal.Reg. Archives-IUN)
  5. 1935

    image
    US Steel is awarded
    property rights to the
    Carr land; however,
    the Great Depression
    is in full swing,
    preventing further
    expansion of steel
    mills. The Carr's
    30-year legal battle
    against US Steel
    interests ultimately
    saves the Lake
    Street area from
    development and leads
    to the creation of the
    expanded park.(Calumet
    Region Archives-IUN)
  6. 1936-1938

    image
    Mayor Clayton's
    Park Board fails
    in an effort to get
    federal aid for the
    development of
    a yacht club in
    Marquette Park.
    Instead, they
    build an elaborate
    trapshoot range
    and clubhouse at
    Marquette Park.
    (Cal.Reg. Archives-IUN)
  7. 1966-1977

    image
    Congress authorizes
    the Indiana Dunes
    National Seashore
    [Lakeshore], adding
    8,330 acres. Since
    that time, nearly 7,000
    acres has been added
    to the park. (HDG)
  8. 1976-1980

    image
    The Paul H. Douglas
    Environmental Center
    on Lake Street and
    the Miller Woods
    Trail are significant
    improvements to the
    area.

    Park Pavilion
    undergoes restoration
    replacing windows and
    lighting. Interior rooms
    are redesigned.
    (City of Gary)
  9. 1991

    image
    The Chanute
    Aquatorium Society
    is established as a
    not-for-profit aimed at
    rehabilitating the Gary
    Bathing Beach Pavilion,
    now known as the
    Aquatorium.(HDG)
  10. 1994

    image
    The Gary Bathing
    Beach Pavilion
    is placed on the
    National Register
    of Historic Places.(HDG)
  11. Mid 1990's

    image
    Park Pavilion
    undergoes
    restoration
    repairing various
    exterior elements
    such as the
    green-tiled
    roof, brickwork,
    and exterior
    Maher-designed
    lighting. (HDG)
  12. 2003

    image
    The statue
    of aviation
    pioneer Octave
    Chanute is
    dedicated on
    December
    17, 2003 in
    recognition
    of his historic
    glider
    experiments at
    Miller Beach.(HDG)

2010 Marquette Park Lakefront East Master Plan

Download Master Plan Executive Summary

In January 2009, the City identified the need for the rejuvenation of Marquette Park and submitted an application to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) for financial support. The Marquette Park Lakefront East Master Plan was made possible when the City of Gary was awarded, in June 2009, a grant for $28,190,000 from the RDA for planning, design, engineering, and selected capital and operational improvements. 

Capital improvements laid out in The Marquette Park Lakefront East Master Plan, provide access to and circulation within the park, preserve and strengthen the park’s natural features, provide new recreational and educational amenities, and restore the park’s signature historic facilities.  Collectively, these improvements will help re-establish the park as one of Northwest Indiana’s premier lakefront destinations and enhance the quality of life and park experience for Gary and Northwest Indiana residents.

2010 Marquette Park Lakefront East Master Plan Image Gallery

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Marquette Park

1 North Grand Boulevard • Gary, IN 46403
(219) 938-7362 Phone • (219) 938-7380 Fax