For more than three decades, the vacant Sheraton Hotel loomed over City Hall in Gary, Indiana, a billboard for the city’s descent from Steel City glory into postindustrial blight.

Once the city’s tallest building, it was hailed as “the gateway to the city’s future” by former Mayor Richard Hatcher upon its opening in 1971. It went dark just 14 years later. Entering or passing by Gary on the highway, visitors could see straight through the gutted building, its skeleton a rebuke to the neoclassical dome of City Hall right next door.

Until last October, that is, when current Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson delivered on a campaign promise to tear it down. Freeman-Wilson, a Gary native and Harvard-educated lawyer, becameIndiana’s first black, female mayor when she took office in 2012.

Critics dismissed the move, which received federal and state funds as well as city financing, as a mere public relations stunt. But demolishing the Sheraton could also be viewed as the opening salvo in Freeman-Wilson’s larger war on blight—a campaign she says also addresses crime, economic development and, crucially, the city’s image of itself.

"It’s extremely important," Freeman-Wilson says. "There’s a sense of pride that you have when you can say, ‘My city looks good.’"

-How Gary, Indiana, Got Serious About Tackling Blight

[Photo: Reuters]

A law was passed in Indiana on the 24th called ‘the religious freedom bill’ that is allowing discrimination against same-sex couples. Businesses now have the right to turn you away if you’re LGBT+. 

"This bill does not legalize discrimination in any way, shape, manner, or form. It does not pick a winner or a loser and it does not place one faith, one denomination, one belief system over another." [x]

If this isn’t discrimination in ‘any way, shape, matter, or form’ then what the hell is it? Because from my side it sure as hell seems like it. 

Indiana will miss you too, Parks And Recreation

The Indiana Office of Tourism Development has written a heartfelt “Open Letter To The Cast And Crew of Parks And Recreation” in which they assign each character on the show a city in Indiana to call their own:

Leslie Knope - Full of optimism and a can-do spirit; no obstacle is too big that it can’t be overcome by her determination. She is tough and intelligent. She works hard and gets the best of those around her. She isn’t interested in personal praise; she just wants the satisfaction of making her community a better place. She embodies all that it means to grow up and live in Indiana. Looking at the Indiana map, there is no more fitting town that captures the spirit of Leslie Knope, and best defines Indiana, than Hoosierville.

Ron Swanson - The man buries his gold, drinks Lagavulin, loves breakfast foods and eats red meat; lots and lots of red meat (courtesy of Food ’n Stuff). His cabin in the woods is surrounded with mines. Oil-soaked rags next to a burning fire in his woodworking shop? That’s none of your business, please and thank you. Any infringement upon his personal freedom makes his mustache twitch. Don’t bother him, and he won’t bother you. Ron Swanson is Liberty, Indiana.

Tom Haverford - The entrepreneur. The visionary. Unique, unexpected and authentic. Tom thinks beyond his environment and has ideas that are sometimes ahead of their time. Tom is Columbus, Indiana. An architectural mecca, Columbus is a surprising city with a rich cultural heritage that is always looking for ways to continue its artistic and economic growth. Just like Tom.

April Ludgate-Dwyer - April is exotic. April is mysterious. April is sophisticated and April is intelligent. April could be Peru, Brazil, Rome or Warsaw. She represents Indiana’s small-town charm and global influence. April is Mexico, Cairo or Dublin.Paris, Alexandria or London. Manhattan, Jordan or Holland. Versailles, Shanghai… you get the point.

Andy Dwyer - Gas City. No reason in particular, other than we think he would just really giggle at the name. It would also be the perfect venue for the next MouseRat concert.

Read the full letter at avclub.com