5th Avenue Apartments
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the West 5th Avenue Apartments Historic District is located west of Broadway and includes over 11 blocks of approximately 40 brick apartment structures, most standing at least four stories high. The 5th Avenue apartments were built from 1922 to 1928 to accommodate the rapid doubling of Gary’s population from 55,000 to over 100,000. Considered unique and architecturally significant, the NRHP nomination form notes: “The architectural consistency within the district is due to the limited palette of materials and range of architectural styles.” It also goes on to say, “The continuity of masonry materials, general and massing setbacks illustrates the firm control exercised by the Gary Land Company to ensure visual harmony and order.” The buildings were designed in a variety of styles including Second Renaissance Revival, Spanish Renaissance Revival, Late Gothic Revival and Commercial style. One large building sits on an entire block and includes elaborate terra cotta trim and ornamentation along with octagonal bays. Other buildings feature decorative detailing, projecting square or octagonal bays, and one features arched brick walls that form a “cloister-like courtyard.”
Larger in area than the east side where unskilled workers lived, the west side had a major thoroughfare, 5th Avenue, which ran west from Broadway to Cline Avenue, the city’s western border. The city’s premier park, Jefferson Park, was in this area and businesses and homes sprang up around it. Many of Gary’s leading citizens lived on the West Side. The city’s Carnegie library, the YMCA, prominent churches, businesses, and homes designed by noted architects, Dean and Dean, Frank Lloyd Wright and others, were also built or located on the West side. Images of these apartments can be found on local postcards from the 1920s to the 1960s.