Gary’s Miller Beach area is a different world compared to the rest of the city. Once an independent town settled in 1851, Miller was annexed by Gary in 1918. It remains culturally and economically separated from the rest of Gary.
North of downtown is a section of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. A trail through a delicate oak savanna leads to the popular Miller Beach on the south shore of Lake Michigan.
At the north end of Grand Boulevard is Marquette Park. This historic lakefront park greets you with a statue of Father Jacques Marquette, a French explorer and missionary who camped at the site on his way back to St. Ignace (now in Michigan) after falling ill in 1675.
A historic building, the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium, was built in 1922 and remained open as a changing facility until 1971. It was designed by Prairie School architect by George W. Maher. The building was rescued from demolition in 1991 and renovated shortly after.
The Aquatorium also serves as a small aviation museum. Just 600 feet west of the building, on June 22, 1896, Octave Chanute performed a series of experiments with gliders that directly influenced the Wright Brothers in their flight at Kitty Hawk. Chanute also coined the word “aviation”. A statue of Chanute and replica glider stand on the west side of the building.
On the east side of the building is a monument to the Tuskegee Airmen along with a replica of a WWII fighter plane. A plaque commemorates their contribution to aviation and civil rights.
Marquette Park Pavilion, opened in 1924, was also designed by Maher. With a small pond and bridges nearby, it’s a popular wedding and event venue.