By Mike Krauser

GARY, Ind. (CBS) — By the end of the week, an embarrassing symbol of blight will have vanished from the skyline in Gary, Indiana where it has stood brooding over City Hall for twenty years, reports WBBM’s Mike Krauser.

Much of the building has now been knocked down by a crane operator, using a claw to pull and twist the concrete, one chunk at a time.

For the past two decades the hotel, with its through-and-through view and trees growing on the roof, has been a brooding presence and a symbol of blight in Gary.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson made good on a promise that many people never believed she’d deliver on.

The nearly two million dollar demolition cost is being covered by the federal government. Today in her office at city hall, where you can occasionally feel the shake when a section of concrete plummets to the ground, she said, “It’s an absolute embarrassment, you know, whether people come to or through your home, you want them to see something positive, something good, something clean.”

Freeman Wilson was asked if it is a symbolic thing for Gary residents. She said, ““Well, it’s both symbolic but it’s also substantive because to the extent we are also removing this blight we are also replacing it with more development.”
She said it brings a smile to her face, seeing the building disappear.

“Oh, it’s very exciting,” she said, adding, “It’s gone from being this big looming building to almost a sliver of the building that once was.”

Much of the building has now been knocked down by a crane operator, using a claw to pull and twist the concrete, one chunk at a time.  (Credit: Mike Krauser)

Much of the building has now been knocked down by a crane operator, using a claw to pull and twist the concrete, one chunk at a time. (Credit: Mike Krauser)

Chelsea Whittington works at city hall, where people heading up the old marble steps to the second floor stop on the landing to take in the view of the demolition.

She was in elementary school when the hotel closed in 1984.

“It has been that structure that has been closed downtown for so long you get used to it,” Whittington said. “You almost forget it’s there, and then starting to work downtown, it really became apparent of what an eyesore it was.”

She added, she doesn’t mind the occasional vibration as the ground shakes when a large piece of concrete falls to the ground.

“It’s a welcome shake,” she said, “every time my office shakes when it’s coming down and it just means promise.”

Watch & Listen LIVE