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On October 4, 1919, a riot broke out on Broadway, the main north-south street through downtown Gary, between striking steel workers and strike breakers brought in from outside. The jobs offered by the steel industry provided Gary with very rapid growth and a diverse population within the first 26 years of its founding.

According to the 1920 United States Census, 29.7% of Gary's population at the time was classified as foreign-born, mostly from eastern European countries, with another 30.8% classified as native-born with at least one foreign-born parent.

From the middle of the twentieth century to the present, Gary has experienced drastic population loss, falling by 55 percent from its peak of 178,320 in 1960.

Gary, Indiana, was founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation as the home for its new plant, Gary Works.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gary had the highest percentage of African-Americans of U. cities with a population of 100,000 or more, 84% (as of the 2000 U. As of 2013, the Gary Department of Redevelopment has estimated that one-third of all homes in the city are unoccupied and/or abandoned. While Gary has failed to reestablish a manufacturing base since its population peak, two casinos opened along the Gary lakeshore in the 1990s, although this has been aggravated by the state closing of Cline Avenue, an important access to the area.