|Quality of Life|
With a Song in Our Heart
The dunes are alive with the sound of music. That description very well could be applied to Michigan City at any point in its history.
Singing was a popular pasttime for early settlers. A history book describes the hauling through the streets in 1840 of a brig bearing a brass band playing Whig tunes, and of a concert by "the Michigan City band" in 1841.
Today's Municipal Band traces its origins 107 years - to a band organized in 1869 and called the Silver Cornet Band and the Brass Band. That first local band existed until 1880. Ten years later, two groups - the Union Band and the Independent Band - were formed. They soon merged and became the Ames Union Band, named in honor of George Ames, one of Michigan City's great civic benefactors and a strong band booster. For a time after Ames' death, the band received funds from his estate. In 1896, the city council appropriated money for the band. Prof. Albert Cook, who had come from LaPorte to be supervisor of music in the public schools, was the city band's director. Members of the band were inducted as a unit in the Spanish-American War, were stationed at Camp Young in Kentucky, and were known as the Ames Second Regimental Band. In 1914, industrialist John Barker bestowed an endowment to supplement the city's appropriation. The band was called the Haskell & Barker Band - its name until it became the Municipal Band in 1925.The original bandstand in Washington Park was replaced in 1911 by the one which still is in use in 1976. Public subscriptions helped build the 1911 facility, dedicated at a July 6 concert that year attended by about 10,000 persons. One of the numbers played that evening was a march, Greater Michigan City, written by Harry Hamm, the band's director at that time. In 1976, Guy F. Foreman is in his 34th year as Municipal Band director. Plans are progressing for a new facility in Washington Park, which it is hoped will be ready for band concerts in 1977.Three times, Michigan City has had a symphony orchestra. The first, in 1905, was a joint venture with LaPorte. The second try, also short lived, came in 1932. A member of the '32 orchestra was Palmer Myran. He had a long career as director of an Elston High School music program which produced noted alumni - such as the Cathcart brothers - and attracted national attention to its progressive jazz band in the late '40s. Myran became conductor of the Michigan City Symphony Orchestra which played its first concert Feb. 27, 1949. Later, James Cathcart and Rocco Germano were directors. But Myran was conductor 14 of the orchestra's 18 years, and held the baton when the group presented its final performance April 9, 1967. The 60-member symphony featured the works of local composer William Nelson at several concerts. Both local and visiting soloists were featured.
During the time the late Ward Lane was warden at Indiana State Prison in the 1960s, Myran established a music department and built an inmate band which made appearances outside the institution, presented public concerts behind the walls, and performed on a weekly radio broadcast.
There have been many popular local bands. One of the earliest was the Wheeler-Seymour band. Dr. Charles Seymour was a local dentist. Louis Wheeler was a newspaper reporter who later became the city's chief abstractor of to the Michigan City Municipal Band titles.
The city also has had many choral groups over the years. A barbershop chorus, which came to be known as the Ambassadors of Harmony and won first place in international competition in 1956, was organized in 1947. For many years, Rudy Hart was its director. Michigan City has several topflight barbershop quartets.
A scene of major musical events - particularly in the 1940s and 1950s - was the island stage in Lake Lucerne at International Friendship Gardens. Florence Smith Walton was president and founder of the Friendship Gardens Music Festival, Inc. For many years, talented area performers competed at the gardens for selection as contestants in the Chicagoland Music Festival. Among the local winners - who have gone on to achieve educational and professional music honors - were pianist Ronald Jones and soprano Bobbi Annette Meriweather.
On the subject of music and Michigan City, it should be noted that famous country music singer Johnny Cash has written and recorded a song entitled Michigan City, Howdy Do in 1976.
Spotlights and footlights have shone for a multitude of performers in Michigan City. Great thespians and struggling vaudeville troupers have entertained local audiences at a variety of theaters, ranging from modest to ornate.
Early sites for performances included the Union Hall at Michigan and Franklin Streets, the original Elston School at Fourth and Pine streets with its small top-floor theater, the Armory where the Jaymar-Ruby plant now stands on W. Michigan Street, and Mozart Hall on the south side of E. Michigan Street near Franklin Street.
Michigan City's pride in the early years of the 20th Century was the Grand Opera House, opened in autumn of 1906 at what is now part of the downtown Citizens Bank site. The Grand had 1,500 seats and a huge stage, where musical and dramatic companies headed for Chicago often performed. Many well-known actors of the day played the Grand before it lowered its admission prices and became a vaudeville house called the Orpheum. Still later, it was renamed the Garden Theater, had live canaries in colorful cages in its floral foyer, and featured silent films. But it continued to bring to town such live productions as Macbeth. Fire destroyed the Garden in 1921, and the Tivoli Theater then stood on the site for more than 50 years. The Tivoli also occasionally featured stage productions. It was the home of the Miss Indiana Pageant in its first few years here in the late 1950s.
Other early theaters included the Dreamland, Lyric, Idle Hour, Vaudette, Dixie, Willard, Up town and Starland. Later came the Ritz, Lake, Liberty and Lido. Fire in 1959 destroyed the Liberty. The Lido is the only surviving downtown movie theater in 1976. The city has one outdoor theater on Indiana 212, and the Marquette double theater facility at Marquette Mall, and Cinema four-theater complex at Dunes Plaza.
The first summer theaters in the area - two of the earliest in the state - were built in Beverly Shores and in Washington Park.
The building which today is Dunes Summer Theater was built in 1940. It was called the Michigan Theater and later the Barnum Theater. In 1951, through the efforts of the late Tyler MacAlvay, his wife Nora, and others who shared their dream, the Dunes Arts Foundation was established. It now owns the summer theater, a theater workshop, and the 32-acre wooded site on which they are located. Classes in theater, painting and crafts are offered to adults and young people. The MacAlvays originated the children's theater concept in the United States. Many graduates of Dunes Children's Theater training have gone on to notable achievements in the arts.
An earlier school of fine arts in Michigan City was founded by Catherine Barker Hickox at 707 Washington St. and flourished from 1923 until 1941. Many who were students there still entertain their fellow townspeople with their talents today. Other local studios have provided professional instruction in music and dance.
Summer theater came to downtown Michigan City in 1969, when Lyman Taylor preserved the 100-year-old former St. John's United Church of Christ building as The Canterbury. The Festival Players Guild was formed and sponsors wintertime productions, as well as summer plays, at The Canterbury. Other area dramatic fare is provided by the Footlight Players; at Barlo Playhouse, and at Scotty's Playhouse and the Tin Tree in New Buffalo.
Organizations have been formed to bring famous performers to the community over the years. The most recent was the Community Concert Association. Local audiences have seen a gamut of talent - ranging from the Guy Lombardo band to the U.S. Marine Band, from Nelson Eddy to the New Christy Minstrels, from Cornelia Otis Skinner to Jose Greco. In the heyday of Chautauqua - the years before and after World War I - tents went up on the grounds of Central School or Elston High School so audiences might see the plays of Shakespeare and Broadway.
And Michigan City has exported talent, as well as importing it. Charles Arnt and Jane Keith (shortened from Keithley) went to Hollywood to pursue film careers in the 1930s. And one of the nation's leading actresses, Ann Baxter, once called Michigan City home.
The Wisdom to Listen: From Chautauqua to Forum
In the second year of its existence as a town, Michigan City welcomed no less an orator than Daniel Webster -- and in the 139 years since then, many great men and women have come here to speak.
On July 4, 1837, Webster stood at the foot of Hoosier Slide - the occasion was the turning of dirt for a proposed railroad route down the center of Wabash Street - and predicted a great future for this community. (Tradition has it he had been wined and dined so well by citizens of the town that he was rather tipsy when it came time for his speech and offered to settle the national debt out of his own pocket.)
Political personages who have given talks in Michigan City have included an incumbent President - William McKinley - and many candidates, among them Woodrow Wilson, Stephen Douglas and William Jennings Bryan.
In the years preceding and following World War I, the Redpath Chautauqua was a cultural influence in Michigan City. It was an organization which brought lecturers to small communities.
The Mozart Hall building on Michigan Street had an upper-story lecture room. Such noted orators of the day as Henry Ward Beecher, Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner were among those who lectured there.
One history of Michigan City observes that "such orators as Beecher and Phillips, such literateurs as John G. Saxe and Bayard Taylor, were welcome and appreciated guests in the community. Information traveled slowly in those days, and public thought and opinion were dependent upon such sources, because the newspapers could not possibly supply the larger knowledge possessed by such eminent men."
In 1954, the Sinai Sunday Evening series was begun in Michigan City - a non-profit undertaking sponsored by Sinai Temple and involving a cross section of citizens. Speakers brought to Michigan City by Sinai Forum the past 22 years have included such famous personalities as Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Thomas, Clement Attlee, Justice William Douglas, Walter Cronkite, Madame Pandit, Ralph Bunche, Eric Sevareid, David Brinkley, Whitney Young, Ogden Nash, Jackie Robinson, Itzhak Rabin, Ralph Nader, Dr. Robert Hutchins, Dr. Joseph Sutton, and Sens. Paul Douglas, Edmund Muskie, William Proxmire and Gene McCarthy.
One name stands above others when it comes to art in Michigan City. It is that of Robert W. Grafton.
A native Chicagoan, he came here in 1908 to open the community's first art exhibit in the public library. While here, he met Elinda Opperman, the assistant librarian, and married her.
In time, Grafton became nationally famous, painting portraits of Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, and of Cardinal Mundelein.
The Graftons lived on the northwest corner of Coolspring and Tilden Avenues in the 1920s and 1930s. It was during the 1920s that he painted the large mural of a lakefront scene of about 1840 in the study hall of Elston Senior High School; another in the Merchants National Bank Building on the southwest corner of Franklin Square and Sixth Street, now occupied by the Indiana Bell Telephone Co., and a third in the lobby of LaPorte's Rumely Hotel.
Grafton suffered a general breakdown in health after completing his largest commission - that of replacing 275 portraits destroyed in the Saddle and Sirloin Club by the Chicago stockyards fire of 1934 - and died at his home here on Dec. 17, 1936, at the age of 60 years.
Other names prominent in Michigan City art circles are those of the late Wheeler S. (Willie) Marsh and Robert Wilcox, both portraitists; Karl Warren, who specializes in water colors, and the late Billy Nelson, who specialized in dune scenes.
Marsh was instrumental in establishing the Michigan City Art League about 1932.
The late Paul L. Brown also became widely known for his work in commercial art circles
Another local person who reached national fame of sorts at his easel was Capt. William C. Eddy, who supplied cartoon calendar art to Honeywell's Brown Instruments Division (now the Process Control Division) between the years 1938 and 1971.
Earle C. Calvert, who operated a photography studio between the years 1889 and 1937, the year of his death, had one of the earliest cameras in Michigan City.
Also worthy of mention when it comes to photographs were the postcards created and sold by the late George Leusch, who operated in an ice cream parlor and novelties shop for years on the northwest corner of Franklin and Michigan Streets. His postcards, showing local and area scenes, became known far and wide and still form the basis of many home collections
In 1938, J.F. Sullivan, a Honeywell, Inc., executive, happened to notice a cartoon Capt. W.C. Eddy was drawing as they rode together on the same train. It was "cartoon love" at first sight and Eddy was signed to a lifetime contract to draw annually such cartoons as the one at left, which appeared in Honeywell's Brown Instruments division calendar in 1967. The cartoons basically reflected man's inability to cope with the machines he builds.
With a town to be built, early settlers had their work cut out for them. Still, as a history of Michigan City notes, "these advance couriers of municipal greatness had time to hear Rev. Armstrong preach the gospel, to set Gallatin Ashton up as a school teacher, and to attend lectures, and they did not neglect the amenities of social intercourse, for Robert Cissne came over from his home at Bootjack in 1883 to play the fiddle for dances, he being the only fiddler then for many miles around."
For the boys of the town, in Michigan City's early days, there was skinny-dipping in the lake on the "other side" of Hoosier Slide. And there was their discovery, long before adults recognized it, of the recreational advantages of Trail Creek. Where pleasure boats now are parked, but where officials for years stubbornly sought to create a commercial harbor, the kids happily swam.
Leisure pleasures favored by some did not meet with approval of others - or the law. An 1837 ordinance banned horse racing in the streets. Later-day hotrodders also were curbed. Gambling flourished from time to time, particularly in the '20s and '30s, but crackdowns eventually came. During prohibition, bootlegging was prevalent.
More legal leisure-time pastimes included cruises on lake steamers. Once there were many. The last to make regular cruises to and from Michigan City was the S.S. City of Grand
Rapids in 1951. The next year, the 40-year-old ship, which had a 2,200-passenger capacity and had cost $3 million to build, was sold in bankruptcy action to a scrap metal dealer.
For all that changed in a century, little changed. Religion and education and culture still are emphasized. Hoosier Slide is gone, so skinny-dipping is not a prevalent pastime. But swimming remains a favorite local activity. The leisure pleasures we treasure have changed only in style - and to the extent that technological progress has gifted us with such marvels as movies, radio and television, the phone, electricity, convenient heating and cooling systems, and, of course, the automobile.
Some people still delight in fiddle music. Others have danced to a different sound. For almost a quarter-century, from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, a huge ballroom sporting one of the finest dance floors in the nation was the pride of Michigan City and - along with all of the other attractions in Washington Park and zoo - what attracted summertime throngs.
At the Oasis Ballroom, thousands came to swing and sway with Sammy Kaye - and to "dance around the world" to the music of just about all of the name bands in the country.
In 1962, the Oasis and the imitation palm trees so long part of its dance floor decor were removed. The reasons were diverse. Some were strictly local. Others had to do with changing times - with the end of the big-band era.
Ask a modern day sports buff what he considers the high point in Michigan City athletics to be and, chances are, he'll zero in on the Elston Red Devils' state high school basketball championship in 1966.
But there also have been other memorable moments and events through the years. . .
Michigan City, for instance, has been the "finish" line for yachts sailing from Chicago in the Columbia Yacht Race since 1891. The race, normally staged on the third Saturday of June, is the oldest continuous fresh water race in the world.
And semi-pro baseball made its debut locally in 1905 when the Michigan City Yukons ran onto the diamond for the first time at Donnelly Field on the West Side near the prison.
Then in 1916 the Haskell & Barker team defeated the Michigan City Grays, 7-0, in a winner-take-all contest to see which of the two teams would continue to play at Lakeside Park, on the north side of the harbor where the filtration plant now stands.
The Michigan City Wonders, the Democrats, Daly's Boosters and the Merchants also had some real games at Doll's Park before it gave way to the Eastgate Shopping Plaza.
But the crowds at these baseball parks were not as large as those the Michigan City Cubs drew at Ames Field in the 1940s, with such stars as Babe Ruth, Bill Nicholson, Phil Cavaretta and Stan Hack making guest appearances.
Michigan City also had a full-blown professional baseball team in the 1950s. Remember the White Caps of the Class D Midwest League, which came into being in 1956 and lasted through the 1959 season? You should - because major league players like Juan Marichal, Mattie and Felipe Alou, John Orsino, Manny Mota and Bob Bolin got their start in the game right here.
Boxing also had a golden era locally - for a while - in the 30,000 seat Sky Blue Arena which was located in the 1920s on E. Second Street, across from where Josam Manufacturing Co. now stands.
Built for prize fighting, it never reached its full potential because Gov. Warren T. McCray decided after the first bout that prize fights violated the Indiana Constitution.
Before the arena was torn down, however fighters like Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, Tommy Gibbons and Georges Carpentier had appeared here in exhibitions.
Heavyweight champion Jim Braddock also trained in Grand Beach for his ill-fated title defense against Joe Louis in Chicago's Comiskey Park on June 22, 1937.
Ten years later, on Oct. 29, 1947, Louis went four rounds against Bob Garner of Louisville, Ky., in an exhibition at the High School Auditorium.
Welterweight Chuck Davey also trained on the beach for his bout with Kid Gavilan in Chicago in the 1950s.
Michigan City likewise gained a place on the professional football map when the Chicago Cardinals worked out here for three weeks in advance of the 1936 National Football League season. In an exhibition game at Gill Field on Aug 30, 1936, the Cardinals ran over the Kamm's Beers of South Bend, 70-0.
Semi-pro basketball started with the YMCA Seniors in 1919. Following them were the Indians, the Redskins, the Dictators, the All Stars, the Northern Indiana Steelers and the Moose.
Denny Shute, then a well-known name, led the professional golf visits into the area with an exhibition match at the former Beverly Shores course in pre-World War II days.
Bob Toski, who won a $100,000 purse in the 1954 Tam O'Shanter tournament, played an exhibition match at the Municipal Golf Course on June 26, 1955, shooting a 72. Larry Tanber shot a 70. Sam Bohlim and Carl Engstrom, the other two members of the foursome, had 78 and 79, respectively.
Dr. Cary Middlecoff also appeared here during dedication ceremonies of the first nine at Pottawattomie Country Club on May 14, 1966.
Not all of the famous on the Michigan City sports scene have been visitors, however. The community has produced its share of notable names, as well. Among them:
Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect World Series baseball game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1956, while a member of the New York Yankees.
Abe Gibron, who went on from football exploits with the Red Devils, Purdue University and the Cleveland Browns to become head coach of the Chicago Bears during the years 1972-73-74.
Doug Adams, who coached the Red Devils to the state basketball title in 1966 and was named national high school basketball coach of the year in 1971. The Red Devils' 24 consecutive sectional crowns from 1952 through 1975 - 18 of which came under Adams - represent the second longest string of consecutive wins in Indiana high school basketball history. Lafayette had 29.
Tom Nowatzke, who fashioned a brilliant professional football career with the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Colts after standout years at Elston High School and Indiana University.
Tony Cline, who became a regular lineman for the professional football Oakland Raiders following play with the Red Devils and the University of Miami.
Larry Tanber, who won the Indiana state amateur golf title in 1965.
Norman Ross, who won the Indiana state billiards title in the early 1950s.
Dave Phelps, Rogers High School swim star, who won the Indiana state high school 200-yard freestyle title in 1975 and 1976, and the 500-yard freestyle title in 1976. He also was named to the national high school All-American swimming team in 1976.
Vernon Payne, Red Devils and Indiana University basketball star who became an assistant coach in that sport at Michigan State University.
Ken Schreiber, an Elston graduate, who coached the LaPorte High School Slicers to two Indiana high school baseball titles in 1967 and 1971. He also is the winningest active high school baseball coach in the state, with 388 victories.
Hal Higdon, long distance runner who has participated in the Boston Marathon and other national events.
Mike Storen, who has held the office of commissioner of the American Basketball Association and other high executive positions with ABA and World Football League teams.
Doug Dunlop, who earlier this year was named to the No. 2 position of the United States Olympic Committee, that of Director of Planning, Projects and General Counsel to the committee.
Joe Joseph, long-time member of the Professional Bowling Association and bowling Hall of Famer.
And Jim Matuszak, who just recently became affiliated with the Professional Bowling Association.
Other happenings on the local scene with a sports flavor:
Harry Gonder, the professional at Beverly Shores Country Club, took 1,817 shots over a 16hr., 25-min. period on June 20, 1939, in an attempt to make a hole-in-one on the course's 10th hole and win a $25 bet. He hit the flagstaff once, the ball stopping three inches from the cup.
Capt. William C. Eddy televised weekly boxing matches from the High School Auditorium over a four-month period starting on, Feb. 17, 1948, to provide a sports program for Chicago station WBKB. He selected Michigan City for the early television experiment when Chicago interests told him he would have to pay for all unoccupied seats in the Chicago Stadium if he staged the bouts there.
The first recorded civic celebration in Michigan City occurred 140 years ago tomorrow - on July 4, 1836. Citizens' muscle power was mustered to maneuver a schooner - the Sea Serpent - over a formidable sandbar at the mouth of Trail Creek and to a docking place upstream. The ship thus became the first commercial vessel to successfully enter the local harbor, dramatizing its potential, and townspeople joined in a festive celebration of the accomplishment.
There have been many occasions for community pomp and pageantry in succeeding years.
The traditional national holidays have been commemorated locally. In 1896, on Decoration Day, the Winterbotham monument at the entrance to Washington Park - a memorial to Union soldiers who died in the Civil War - was dedicated. A picture on this page shows a Michigan City celebration in the 1880s.
In August of 1916, Michigan City joined in observance of Indiana's Centennial with a "Homecoming Week." Events included a parade, downtown vaudeville acts, band concerts, oratory, fireworks, a lake excursion cruise, and a 21/2 hour lakefront pageant in which 500 persons dramatized episodes of Michigan City's early history. The concluding event was "a gigantic Mardi Gras ball" on W. Seventh Street between Franklin and Wabash streets.
There have been spontaneous, as well as scheduled, celebrations. On Nov. 11, 1918, when official word came that World War I was over, "the town went wild. Whistles blew, bells rang and the crowds yelled and shouted with joy of the occasion. There was no thought for business that day and the community treated itself to a holiday. During the afternoon a parade was staged in the downtown district with the Haskell & Barker band and Red Cross workers leading the procession.
In homes, business places and factories, residents listened on radios at 8 a.m. May 8, 1945, when President Truman announced "complete and final victory in the European Theater" of World War 11. There were no festivities, because victory still was to be won in the Pacific. But oh Aug. 14 that year, when Japan capitulated and World War 11 was over, it was different. Moments after victory was announced, at 5:58 p.m., Franklin Street was a four-lane traffic jam. The News-Dispatch reported: "Soon sore throats, weak-batteried auto horns and tired people attested to the general amount of energy spent by humans and machines in expressing pent-up feelings. No more war, no more shootings and bombings, ship sinkings, and other terrors of battle. Long into the night, with a sort of wild elation, the crowds remained on the main street. Inches of torn paper littered sidewalks and streets. People were unable to buy anything in the stores, the business houses having closed with the first blasts of the waterworks, prison and Pullman whistles, Many persons attended churches, the doors being thrown wide open-, while others who have men and women in the services knelt in prayer at home,"
Between the celebrations of the ends of the two world wars, Michigan City had its own unique observance in 1933. That was the year selected by citizens to commemorate the town's 100th birthday. A Centennial pageant in Washington Park July 1, 2 and 3 depicted nine episodes highlighting community development. Participants included dancing girls, boy and girl scouts, a chorus, drum and bugle corps, Indians, horses, covered wagons - more than 600 persons presenting "scenes of yesterday in an interesting and spectacular manner." The pageant's grand finale was "The Wheel of Life," described as "a gigantic closing spectacle in which a living wheel is formed." The 1933 festivities also included dedication of a marker on the courthouse lawn signifying the construction of the Michigan Road, the principal factor in establishment of a community here.
Those were depression days, but in addition to the local Centennial many townspeople attended the World’s Fair being presented in Chicago. The South Shore Railroad ran hourly trains to the fair.
Another pageant of magnitude was the "Passing of the Pottawattomies" at the Friendship Gardens island stage Aug. 9, 1941. The production featured hundreds of local persons and Chief Whirling Thunder and his Indian tribe from Wisconsin.
Mayor R.C. Fedder was a prime force in the initiation of the Indiana Days annual celebrations here in the final years of the 1930s. Indiana Days was an outgrowth of the Dunes Water Sports Carnival - featuring selection of a Miss Indiana - that had first been staged in 1934. In 1935, Indiana Days featured the biggest parade ever staged here, with 75 floats and bands from four states. Another highlight was a drum and bugle corps competition at Gill Field.
Indiana Days was revived in 1955 . The following year, when Fedder's son, Francis, became mayor, the annual Summer Festival celebration was begun and included the city's first mammoth parade since 1938. The Summer Festival has been a July event every year since, and the annual drum and bugle corps spectacle at Ames Field has become a Festival highlight. Michigan City also has been the home of the Miss Indiana Pageant, at which the state's contestant in the Miss America Pageant is chosen, annually since 1957.
Other civic presentations and celebrations over the years have included the Gay Nineties observance, beard-growings and other events to commemorate the state's Sesquicentennial in 1966, aviation shows, the annual Memorial Day parade, the Half-Century of Progress Exposition in 1950 and Town and Country Fairs at the Oasis Ballroom, and the Horne and Sports Shows at Rogers High School.
All cities have elementary and high school educational facilities today. But few have the wide range of post-high school educational benefits that Michigan City enjoys.
There are, for instance, two major universities, a major college and branches of two other major universities within 35 miles.
The University of Notre Dame, St. Mary's College and Indiana University at South Bend are all located at South Bend. In addition, Bethel College is located a short distance to the east at Mishawaka.
Valparaiso University is located at Valparaiso, Purdue North Central between Michigan City and Westville, and Indiana University Northwest at Gary.
Technical, trade and special purpose schools also abound in the area. Indiana Vocational Technical College has branches at Michigan City, South Bend and Gary, and Valparaiso Technical Institute is located at Valparaiso.
The American Jet School and the Northern Indiana School of Radiologic are located here. So are the Sheltered Workshop and Therapy Center, schools for the retarded and handicapped.
Naguib's School of Sculpture is located at Beverly Shores.
There also are a number of commerce and business schools in LaPorte, South Bend and Gary.
Purdue North Central might be called Michigan City's "own" school. From a beginning in Elston Senior High School, it moved to the Barker Mansion at Seventh and Washington Streets in 1948, and then to a handsome campus near Otis in 1967.
Two other post-high school opportunities are available in Michigan City - Community School classes and Adult Education classes, both offered by the school city.
Community school classes are designed to provide elective courses as well as general education development courses, which can be used toward a high school diploma.
Adult education courses, on the other hand, are designed to provide the needed three or four credits for college work and vocational skills.
The Michigan City public library is another cultural resource. Besides the main facility at Eighth and Spring streets, there is a branch library in Marquette Mall.
A new main library currently is being constructed just east of Superior Courthouse on the city's North Side.
Self-help and citizen involvement in civic projects have been the rule rather than the exception in Michigan City for most of its history.
Aroused by a lack of federal help in developing the harbor, for instance, a group of townspeople as early as July 4, 1864, took over the job themselves, expending $200,000 of their own money financing the work and prodding the government to action.The former and present YMCA structures, the Spaulding Hotel, the present public library, Barker Hall, St. Anthony Hospital and the present Memorial Hospital medical and surgical pavilion all came about with the help of contributions from the people.
The Municipal Golf Course, the Washington Park Zoo and the South Lake Michigan Industrial Park also are the result of citizen involvement. So are the Municipal Airport and Camp To-Pe-Ne-Bee, the Boy Scout camp, built by members of the Boosters Club.
In the late 1950s, the Community Development and Advisory Committee helped to secure the merger of Michigan City and Lakeland.
The community's service clubs rallied in the 1960s, also, to help replant Michigan City's trees following widespread loss of its elms through disease. And school children gave Washington Park many of its trees in 1934 in a tree planting project.
A People-in-Politics program initiated by interested townspeople and The News-Dispatch fostered grass roots activity in the municipal political structure in the 1960s and, in 1966, was instrumental in Michigan City being named an All-American city.
Michigan City also has taken care of its underprivileged and handicapped through the years.
Informal groups helped the poor and needy even before the turn of the century.
The United Welfare and Relief Organization came into being in 1931. The Community Chest followed, with a name change to Community Fund in 1952. It was during the last year of the Community Fund, in 1954, that the organization started a string of 14 consecutive years of fund raising success exceeding goal each time within the time framework of the campaign which lasted through 1967. The organization became the United Fund in 1955 and kept the name until 1974, when United Way was adopted in keeping with a change of names for organizations affiliated with the national organization.
Michigan City's first hospital was founded by Dr. Alexander Mullen Jr., a physician who worked for the railroads. The Mullen Hospital -as it was known - opened on Aug. 24,1892, at 409 Washington St. Located in a private home, it may not have resembled the hospitals of today, but it lasted until shortly after Dr. Mullen's death on May 4, 1894.
About a dozen doctors handled Michigan City's health problems in that last decade of the 19th century.
The Tillotson Hospital, founded by Dr. A.G. Tillotson and his son-in-law, Dr. Edward G. Blinks, came into being about the turn of the century in a building located on the north side of W. Sixth Street, a half block from Franklin Square. This establishment operated until about 1910.
Meanwhile, Michigan City recognized the need for more sophisticated facilities and St. Anthony Hospital was constructed in 1904, at Wabash and Ripley Streets, much of the $80,000 cost having been donated by Mrs. John H. Barker. This original unit could care for 80 patients. The hospital was expanded in 1926 with a wing to the south.
Then in the 1960s, with the help of a $2,163,332 Hill-Burton grant and a fund campaign by citizens, a new five-story building was constructed just south of the 1926 wing. The new hospital, with a capacity of 200 beds, opened on Jan. 10, 1968.
St. Anthony is operated by the Sisters of St. Francis as a not-for-profit, church affiliated institution.
Memorial Hospital, originally named The Clinic, was founded in 1925 by Dr. J.B. Rogers, Dr. F.V. Martin, Dr. L.A. Wilson, Dr. E.O. Krueger and Dr. H.L. Brooks. The last named then bought the hospital from the others and operated it until 1951, when he sold it to Dr. M.L. Bankoff. The hospital was renamed Doctors Hospital at that time.
Dr. Bankoff operated the institution until July 1, 1963, when it was converted to a not-for-profit establishment under the operation of a foundation and board of trustees. Coincidentally with this move, the name Memorial Hospital was adopted.
Capacity of the hospital was increased to 19 beds in 1968 with the construction of a medical and surgical pavilion across Pine Street from the original building. A Hill-Burton grant of $534,681 and the citizen fund campaign which helped St. Anthony also helped to underwrite the cost of the pavilion.
Walters Hospital had its beginning in the Warren Hospital, which opened in 1938 on the sixth floor of the Warren Building in downtown Michigan City. Along with the Walters Clinic, which came into being later, it stayed in those quarters until 1963, when its chief of staff, Dr. William H. Walters, constructed a new 50-bed hospital at 3714 Franklin St. The institution adopted the name Walters Hospital at that time. Subsequently, it also was converted into a not-for-profit establishment.
Michigan City has had a health laboratory since 1904, when Dr. H.L.B. Coote undertook work in it on a part-time basis. A typhoid epidemic in 1912 led to the establishment of full blown Board of Health.
The picture above shows Franklin Street before mail was installed between Fifth and Ninth streets. The view looks north from middle of 600 block. Below, Franklin Square - looking north from Ninth Street.
It's safe to say that Major Isaac C. Elston wouldn't recognize the town he laid out 144 years ago if he were to return today. For one thing, it has expanded considerably beyond the southern border - Ninth Street - of his 1832 map. For another, its dominant landmark of that day and that century is long gone.
But even a person absent from the community only a decade or two might not be sure he was in the same town if he came back in 1976.
The skyline has changed and been rearranged - particularly on the northern and southern limits of the community.
When Elston first came to inspect the land he had purchased sight unseen, he must have been struck - as were all first-time visitors to Michigan City for its first 90 years - by the towering sand dune which stood west of the Trail Creek entrance, where the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. generating station stands today. The dune, which came to be called Hoosier Slide, was 175 feet high. It was a famous landmark, one which attracted tourists and inspired visitors and homefolks alike to climb to its top for picnics, for the view, even for an occasional wedding. Men first removed the trees from the dune, for use in building the new town. Then, irked by the blowing sand, they moved their main street from Front Street (where Amtrak trains now run) to Franklin Street. Then, for profit, they permitted the sand to be hauled away, carload by carload - 131/2 million tons over a period of 30 years - until Hoosier Slide was no more. Where did it all go? For fill and construction in Chicago. For the manufacture of fruit jars and plate glass in Muncie and Kokomo. For other industrial uses all over the U.S. and elsewhere. For sand beaches at inland lakes. For the private golf course of Hoosier humorist George Ade. One of the uses of Hoosier Slide sand was the making of glass insulators for telephone poles. It's safe to say that there is a bit of Hoosier Slide - Michigan City sand - from coast to coast, from Canada to Mexico, and beyond.
The Michigan City skyline has had its imposing structures through the years. Hotels sprouted rapidly in the beginning - for Michigan City was, as a history book puts it, " a frontier city into which were entering the hardy pioneers who built our West..." There were 10 hotels here by 1836, year of the town's incorporation. The Ames and Holliday drug store, built in 1835, was the first brick building west of Detroit.
There were imposing homes constructed Lyman Blair's, for instance, which later was converted into a hotel (the Fairview).
At one time, Michigan City had more than 100 saloons - and was described by one native as "a poor man's Milwaukee."
Neighborhoods developed through the years, along with a flourishing downtown section. More hotels. Stores and theaters. Large churches with towering steeples. Washington Park's zoo and facilities and midway - a center of summertime activity.
But the oldest part of downtown, the north end, showed signs of old age. Surgery was prescribed. Landmarks were razed. An era ended in the park. Department stores, and some others, moved south. The city moved east, doubling its size; There was a flurry of school-building. New and expanded hospitals. In 1935, somebody had figured out that in the 11-year-old Warren Building, a typical business day saw 801 elevator trips transporting 1,512 passengers. Management of the Tivoli-Lido-Uptown theaters reported 20,000 moviegoers a week. A few decades later, the movie business was televisioned to a trickle. Suddenly, the town had only a couple theaters. Then, presto-chango, movies were rediscovered - the town had seven movie theaters (albeit six of them in two buildings) plus the outdoor. The elevator at the Warren Building was engaged heavily in governmental business; the city even was considering buying the building. But a block away, the once-proud Spaulding was pigeon prey. And a couple blocks west on Seventh, all that remained of the Pullman-Standard complex, which once dominated the town's economy as much as its West Side skyline, were a couple structures, a lot of bricks, and two smokestacks.
There was some preservation of the past. The Canterbury. The old post office. The Barker mansion. Churches. Barker Hall. The Brewery. Maybe the library.
The new landmarks were the NIPSCO cooling tower - and the twinkling light visible from afar. And trees grew on Franklin Street.
Were he to come back, Maj. Elston might deem it ironic, after noting the absence of Hoosier Slide, to find the town's newest and southernmost commercial development is called Dunes Plaza.
Early settlers came to populate Michigan City by boat, by stage coach, or by travel over the early roads which were built to supplement the Michigan Road.
The Yellow River Road (U.S. 35) was constructed in 1833 from Michigan City to Knox by way of LaPorte. An earlier road connected Michigan City and Lafayette with a ferry across the Kankakee River. Another road connected Michigan City with Door Village and still another ran from the northern to the western boundaries of the state on the approximate route of U.S. 12 today.
One highway, still labeled Michigan City Road, snaked its way through Hammond and the southern Chicago suburbs even before 1839 dawned.
These roads were traveled by foot, horses, mules or oxen, until the auto arrived about the turn of the century. Then came hard surface thoroughfares in the 1920s - the Dunes Highway, U.S. 12 east, Johnson Road, etc. - and combustion engine transportation was on the way.
U.S. 20 between Michigan City and Gary - originally called the "Relief Road" because it was designed to provide relief for U.S. 12 - was constructed in the early 1930s.
Built without a divider and with only 10-ft. lanes, two feet narrower than modern highways, it soon became a death trap as traffic crowded onto its four lanes.
In the early 1950s, the toll normally exceeded a death a mile per year and it earned the name "Gore Road." For several years it was the most dangerous highway in the state and, for one year, at least, it was called one of the dozen most dangerous highways in the country.
Toll roads also became popular in the 1950s and, following suit, Indiana began construction of its northern toll road, between Chicago and the Ohio state line, on Sept. 21, 1954. Groundbreaking was in St. Joseph County, on the exact spot where the road crossed the historic Chicago trail, which served as the main stagecoach route between Chicago and Detroit more than 120 years ago.
With a 16-mile stretch on the western end still to be completed, the Indiana Toll Road was dedicated officially on Sept. 17, 1956, in ceremonies at the South Bend Plaza. The remaining 16-mile segment was opened on Nov. 15 of the same year.
The last major highway to cross the northern part of the state - Interstate 94 - was completed on Nov. 2, 1972, after a 27-year struggle by civic leaders to get it built. Originally called the Tri-State, it connected Chicago with Detroit.
Railroads, meanwhile, had been around since 1852, when the first Michigan Central train reached Michigan City. Others followed before too long - the Monon, the Nickel Plate and the Pere Marquette, as they came to be known through most of their years.
The Northern Indiana, an electric line, began service in 1903 and the South Shore, another electric line, reached Michigan City in 1908.
All carried passengers at one time or another, and all but the Northern Indiana still are in operation. Old timers still chuckle when they recall that the Lake Erie and Western, predecessor to the Nickel Plate and the Norfolk and Western, once was known affectionately as the "Leave Early and Walk."
Streetcars, which creaked along Franklin Street rails as early as 1881 behind mules and horses, received electrical power in 1907 and continued their journeys along Franklin and Ninth streets, east and west, until the 1930s, when they went out of existence.
Michigan City's first official airport opened in 1927 at the intersection of U.S. 35 and U.S. 20, where Joe Phillips now operates Phillips Airlines. Phillips began passenger service to Midway Airport in Chicago in 1946 and to O'Hare in 1955.
Excursion ships also contributed an exciting chapter to local transportation, with many people going to the lakefront just to see them come in.
And who can forget the hustle and bustle and the acrid smells as transcontinental buses rolled under the shelter at the rear of the South Shore station? Or the lines at the counter and the clanging of silverware during bus stops at Mark Moorman's Dunes Restaurant, at Second and Franklin streets? Or the South Shore buses rolling along U.S. 12 between here and St. Joseph, Mich.? Or Jahn's buses, which provided service between Ohio Street and down town Michigan City?
All were a part of the Michigan City transportation picture in the past.
Would you believe that the South Shore once had diners and club cars on its trains between here and Chicago?
It did. But that was a long time ago - when trains were trains and when a passing airplane drew kids out-of-doors to yell:
Quality of Life was written by Elwin G. Greening and Bob Kaser. Information for the articles came from The History of Michigan City, by Rollo B. Oglesbee and Albert Hale; Michigan City's First Hundred Years, by Elizabeth M. Munger; a compilation of local historical material by Edna Kitchell, Michigan City Historian, and from the files of The News-Dispatch. Appreciation also is expressed to G.C. Calvert, Nora MacAlvay, James H. Fleming, Richard G. Cook, Capt. W. C. Eddy, Kenneth Werdine, Mrs. William H. Harris and Doug Adams for their assistance in furnishing material and pictures.