Historic Structures of
East Chicago, Indiana
Despite its name, East Chicago (pop. 33,892) is not a part of
Chicago; in fact, it is not even adjacent to Chicago. It is actually in
Indiana, several miles southeast of Chicago, separated from Chicago and
the Illinois-Indiana border by the city of Hammond.
A port city on Lake
Michigan, East Chicago is the site of blast furnaces, rolling mills,
and oil refineries. The construction of the Indiana Harbor ship Canal,
as well as the steel mills, attracted dozens of industries in the early
20th century. Recently, its economy has had to diversify due to the
closing or downsizing of several industrial plants.
workers were attracted to the city during its industrial expansion,
drawn by the multitude of low-skilled industrial jobs and the
opportunity to build a better life. Workers from Western and Eastern
Europe, Ireland, Germany, Greece and other countries flocked to the
area. Later they were joined by an influx of Mexican workers.
East Chicago is today
the home of a popular marina, as well as several important historic
religious and commercial structures, including the First National Bank and Trust Co.,
which gained notoriety in 1934 when it was robbed by John Dillinger,
the Calumet Trust and Savings Bank, and the St. Nicholas Romanian
Catholic Church (1913), one of the city's oldest religious structures.