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Historic Structures of

East Chicago, Indiana

Commercial Structures

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.

Many foreign-born 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.


Chicago Ave.East Chicago Colonial Revival Apartments

Given Apartments, c. 1920

4621 Chicago Ave.

Colonial Revival


East Chicago 4621 Magoun Ave.

4621 Chicago Ave.


East Chicago Magoun Ave.

Chicago Ave.

Unfortunately, poor urban planning and preservation (or lack of it) has resulted in the replacement of the original two- and three-story buildings on this street with single-story structures, giving this block an unsightly "gap-toothed" appearance.


East Chicago - 1st National Bank & Trust Co. Building -Dillinger

1st National Bank & Trust Co. Building

720 Chicago Ave. (Corner of Chicago and Magoun)


c. 1920

This bank was robbed by John Dillinger in 1934.

Note: this building has been demolished and replaced with a Walgreens,
despite the fact that there were and are numerous vacant lots available just down the street.

Click here or on the picture above to go to our page dedicated to this building.



Indiana Harbor Commercial District

East Chicago Garden Theatre - Neoclassical

Garden Theatre

Main Street


c. 1920

This is the city's only remaining movie palace, and deserves to be rehabilitated. The marquee is apparently original to the building.


East Chicago - Chicago style commercial building

L.E. Levin Griffin Building

138th & Grant Ave.

Chicago style


This building boasts a highly-decorative and ornate terra-cotta facade.


East Chicago United Steelworkers Building

United Steelworkers Building

(Former USWA Union Hall)

8001 Broadway, Corner of Grand & Broadway (abandoned)



The future of this building is in limbo. It is owned by the New Second Baptist Church, the pastor of which has been accused of stealing Build Indiana funds, as reported in the Post Tribune of March 28th, 2002. (A billboard on the far side of this building touts pastor Lee Gilliam's church.) Nothing has been don to rehabilitate this building.


East Chicago -U.S. National Bank - Neoclassical

U.S. National Bank, corner of Main & Broadway



Obviously built during East Chicago's boom years, this Neoclassical structure was built tall and narrow to make room for the other buildings that were expected to grow up around it.

East Chicago -U.S. National Bank - Neoclassical 

U.S. National Bank

Corner of Main & Broadway



Note the external fire escape, which in some cases is a superior method of fire evacuation to internal stairwells, which can fill up with smoke.


East Chicago - Calumet Trust and Savings Bank - Neoclassical

Calumet Trust and Savings Bank

Chicago Ave.


c. 1919 / 1926

This outstanding building deserves to be given a new use (many possibilities come to mind: a museum, library, ofices, or a "mini-mall"). This building is on the other side of the street from the 1920 Renaissance Revival Federal Building.


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