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Young Photographer Turned Preservationist Scores for the Hometown

Aug 24 – Sep 06, 2023

union station gary

union station gary

tyrell anderson

David Graff, a Vice President at Google, was at Gary’s Union Station groundbreaking of the building becoming a fiber optic hub. Graff is one of the many creative volunteers the Decay Devils, the group of photographers turned preservationist that has spearheaded the renovation, has attracted.  “If you make these investments, business will follow,” says Graff. He added that "I have seen how job opportunities come from similar projects; gives people access.”

The City of Gary is funding $5 million of the $8 million price tag with funds from the American Rescue Act Plan. The remaining funding will come from private investors and grants.
"Photographers that find her/histories in their lenses insure that others will see what they saw."

- Sharon Farmer, former Director of the White House Photography office
After seven years of work, Decay Devils founder Tyrell Anderson is glad the 113-year-old building is being preserved, his group has found money for renovation, Digital Equity, LLC as a tenant, and plans to create a training center with the cooperation of local education institutions. “This took seven years and they told me I have four minutes,” to speak quipped Anderson at the groundbreaking. He also spoke of his late father’s vision of creating something creative for the City Built on Sand.

Also attending the groundbreaking was Republican Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Democratic Congressperson Frank Mrvan.  “We will not give up on Gary,” says Mrvan. “So goes Gary, so goes Northwest Indiana,” he continued.

Anderson started the Decay Devils as a photography group that conducted urban explorations to other cities to take pictures.  It was during a trip to New Orleans and Savanna that he began to change the scope of the group from “taking pictures, to taking action,” he told Port of Harlem for the upcoming ten article series:  “Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are:  Renovating IN Gary, IN.”  It was his witnessing the preservation of buildings that aroused his desire to return home to Gary to preserve her pass.

“Photographers that find her/histories in their lenses insure that others will see what they saw. Their greatest impact at the first shutter touch starts the ripple effect,” says Sharon Farmer, the first African-American woman to be hired as a White House photographer and the first African American and first female to be Director of the White House Photography office, on the Decay Devil’s impact as photographers.

Union Station was on the Indiana Landmark’s 10 most endangered buildings. It is hoped that is will now become a new economic engine at the feet of Gary’s original moneymaker – United States Steel – Gary Works and one of the nation’s newest national parks, The Indiana Dunes.
Coming In Port of Harlem: Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are:  Renovating IN Gary, IN

The articles explore the issues Port of Harlem publisher Wayne Young uncovered and learned about while investing in my economically-challenged hometown, Gary, and witnessing gentrification in once-economically challenged Washington, DC.

The articles often cover other places including South Bend, IN; Prince Georges County, Maryland; Washington, DC; Omaha, Nebraska; Flint, Michigan; Jackson, Mississippi; Florida, and the Lower Colorado River Basin States, specifically, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

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