Happy Harmacists

The north end of Broadway was once the heartbeat of Gary, Indiana featuring everything from ritz hotels and movie palaces to any major department store you like. The bottom fell out with racial tension and crime spiking in the 1970s, and soon most of Broadway was left deserted – that is, except for the former JCPenney store, between the Gary State Bank and the old Gary Hotel, which wound up repurposed as a Walgreen’s pharmacy on the ground floor, and several professional offices on the second floor and basement. Amid Gary’s decaying downtown: Walgreens remained there until about 1997, when – to my best guess – an attached building fell victim to the Great Gary Arson of 1997.

While I had been eyeing it since my first visit to Gary in 2009, it wasn’t until 2012 that the Walgreen’s building was finally cracked-open by either scrappers or graff writers, and beyond what 15 years of neglect would do to any building of that age it was almost perfectly preserved from the day Walgreen’s bailed out, down to these “employee of the month” or whatever Polaroids that were found in the employee lounge:

Found Photo: Harmacist
Found photo: Happy Harmacists

The city finally brought the building down at the end of last year – the land soon to become parking and a drive-thru bank for the neighboring Gary State Bank Building, which is undergoing renovation.


  1. Hoosier Herald: nice article and photos of the former Walgreens and JC Penney building at the former 540 Broadway location in downtown Gary. Early last year my firm 504 Redevelopment LLC purchased the Gary State Bank Building and are spearheading a revival of the property. Part of the revival included the razing of the properties from 520 – 540 Broadway the home of the former Walgreens building. The buildings were demolished and the site leveled and graded in late 2014. In the spring of 2015 we will begin the construction activities for the addition of a 3 lane bank drive thru and ATM and a 80 car off street parking lot. All of this was necessary in order to attract a bank back to the Gary State Bank location (Chase Bank left the building in 2007). As proponents of preserving old and historic properties it was very difficult for my team to make the decision to raze those properties however without interest by developers to revitalize the properties they continue to fall deeper and deeper into disrepair as was the case with the 520-540 Broadway properties. Please visit our website at http://www.gatewaypllc.com to learn more about our efforts to revitalize the property. Thank you for allowing me to post this comment and keep up the great work in not letting us forget these old relics.

    Liked by 1 person

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