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The Waning Days of Indiana's Model Factory Town

Residents fight for the future of what was once called the "Brigadoon of industrial housing."
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For nearly a century, a neighborhood seemingly straight out of the English countryside has stood tucked away along the industrial coastline of East Chicago, Indiana.

Built in 1917, Marktown was envisioned as a worker’s paradise that would supply a steady stream of labor for the Mark Steel Company next door. Founder Clayton Mark and architect Howard Van Doren Shaw — best known for his country homes and the Market Square shopping development in nearby Lake Forest, Illinois — believed that offering amenities that most tenement-dwelling workers could only dream of would keep them in the factories longer. For a model, they looked to the Garden City movement then in vogue in England. That legacy can still be seen today in Marktown's gable-roofed houses and narrow streets, where cars park on the sidewalks to leave the lanes free for wandering. When it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the application boasted of the “charming northern European village effect” in what boosters still call the “Brigadoon of industrial housing.”