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Notes from the Northwest Indiana Traveler    <Back to Traveler Main Page
by Erin
   Read my disclaimer... 
"Did You Know This Is in Gary/Miller?"

Did you know these attractive places are in Gary/Miller?  I didn't.  But then, I've only lived in Northwest Indiana since 1994.  And even if you did know about these great assets to NWIN, I'm confident you won't object to my suggesting or reminding you that they are ideal places for a visit or re-visit.

Click to view larger image of this Lake Michigan view.I'm speaking of (and please click to view the enlarged views of the images throughout this page) Gary Beach House Aquatorium, Marquette Pavilion, Patterson Island and all their surrounding beach areas, dunes, park areas, nature, and terrific views.  There is plenty of room for walking and simply soaking in a beautiful day.

On Friday, April 27, 2001 I was fortunate to take a drive to the Marquette Park/Lake Michigan area on a blue-sky day.  It was clear enough to see the Chicago skyline, something that can't be said every day for certain from the Indiana side of Lake Michigan.  The sandy beach at this location was wide.  I'm sure this location is much more populated in the summer, but it was a terrific day to be at the shore of Lake Michigan, with only one more person on the beach, a solitary jogger.  If you read this article on a warm spring day, immediately jump in your car and go; Lake Michigan can be such a peaceful sight.   Or some weekend when you really don't have anything to do during the day and don't have time to drive too far to be entertained, please keep this place in mind.  And don't forget your camera.

The Gary Beach House Aquatorium is a massive and impressive two story structure.  If most definitely shows wear from weather and inattention, but I was able to peek in the windows to see that there really are some accommodating features to this facility.  I viewed (and again, this was limited to a peek trough a window!) seating area with table and chairs for dining and a garden courtyard, and an impressive upstairs balcony ideal for a terrific view of the lake and beach.  Surely this would be an ideal location for a wedding reception or group dinner.  

CLick to view larger image of this Northwest Indiana landmark at the shores of Lake MichiganBehind the Aquatorium, a bit to the west, is a lavish landmark that was erected in celebration of the views.  However, like the aquatorium, this monument is impressive but also prey to ill-attention.  I'm hoping that as the weather warms up, maintenance crews will spruce the place up the landscaping and pick up a bit.  

Steps at the landmark, allow you to get a great view, which is explained on a plaque at the front of the structure:
The view from this historic spot includes the camp site of Father Marquette, the lagoons which are the headwaters of the Grand Calumet River, the dune from which octave Chanute launched aviation, Lake Michigan, the largest fresh water lake in North America, and the aquatorium, perhaps the first modular block building in the world. 

Dedicated 1994.
Again going bit further southwest is a path that leads to Patterson Island, which could probably be traversed in somewhere around 200 steps.  This tiny island has two bridges: one a suspension, the other a oriental garden style.  A plaque on the island provides a bit of information about its 1935 beginnings.  
wpeE.jpg (24030 bytes) The bridges and island lead you to Marquette Pavilion, which to me looked like a setting for an event of Great Gatsby-ish proportions.  The lighted steps lead down to the inshore water for an attractive view.  
The pavilion has a tremendous outdoor dancing and dining area, seemingly ready for a band and clothed tables for diners.  Again, this seems another ideal setting for a wedding reception, which I'm guessing are held here since I spied a discarded or forgotten corsage flower near the building.  Again, when I was there on a Friday afternoon, there was no one to be found.  The doors were locked, which lent itself to more window peeking.  Inside I saw lots of room and impressive architectural space.  One flaw was gold covered, squared off interior columns, surely the fault of an 1980's interior improvement attempt.  Hopefully they are not of the permanent type.  Despite some surface flaws, I was undoubtedly impressed by the facility of Marquette Pavilion.
wpeB.jpg (54801 bytes) Other draws to the Marquette area:  a children's park and playground (perfect in the shade and near the beach), attractive landscaped area with statue of Father Marquette (pictured here).
There are likely additional terrific views that I have not discovered yet.  I hope to return to see what else is available in the area and to see how things have improved with summer-time maintenance.
I found two phone numbers for more information:  Marquette Pavilion (219) 938-7362 and Gary Park Department (219) 886-7113.  
For the many of you who have contacted with questions on where to hold a wedding reception, add this to a list of terrific potential places.  For those who simply value a place to venture in the outdoors, this is an easy day's visit.  I'm glad to have learned of this place.

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