An iconic mural destroyed

A BACKHOE DEMOLISHES a vacant building that contained a massive, iconic mural of Gary’s world-famous Jackson 5 family.

Building on Broadway that featured mural of Gary’s Jackson family demolished

Crusader Staff Report

To some, it was gone too soon. To many, it was time for the mural to beat it.

The massive iconic mural on a vacant building on Broadway featuring Gary’s Jackson Five, last week was demolished after the structure met the wrecking ball as part of a plan to tear down vacant buildings in the city.

Michael, Jermaine, Tito, Randy, and Marlon. For four years the images of the five brothers with impeccable afros stood tall over Broadway across the street from the Genesis Towers. Shortly after it was unveiled in 2016, the mural became a recognizable image of Gary and a tourist attraction much like the Empire State building is to New York or the Willis Tower is to Chicago.

But over several days, the four story, black, white, and silver mural was reduced to a pile of rubble after a backhoe ripped through the building just four years after it was unveiled to great fanfare.

The mural was located at 561 Broadway, two blocks south of City Hall. The building that included the mural was deemed dangerous and unsafe under former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s administration. City leaders say the demolition was part of an effort to eliminate blight and promote future development in Gary.

The mural was created by graffiti artist Felix “Flex” Maldonado, and Omar “OMS” Marin. In 2016, Felix was commissioned to create the mural after the design was chosen from three proposals by Gary residents. The project was part of an effort to spruce up downtown with public art.

It took two weeks for Maldonado and Marin to complete the mural, which they painted by hand using hydraulic lifts. The mural measured 60-meters-by-60-meters. Maldonado painted a much smaller version of the Jackson 5 mural on Lake Street in Gary’s Miller Beach neighborhood, but the mural on Broadway was special because it stood on the city’s main street downtown.

“It’s always difficult to see bits of our history disappearing, especially work like the mural which represents people who have made Gary proud. We have to make the tough calls to provide a safer, cleaner city for our residents. By eliminating blight in our city, we’re really clearing the way for new opportunities for our community,” Prince said.

The Facebook page also included photos of the building and mural being torn down. At the bottom picture of the mural, Prince said, “We have reached out to the Jackson family, and they’re interested in helping develop part of Broadway. We also will reach out to Felix Maldonado to create a permanent tribute to the Jackson family.”

The news drew 50 comments on the city’s Facebook page, largely in favor of the demolition. Many thanked Prince for tearing down the building as well as several others.

One person commenting, Leona Bowman, said, “Please tear down all the closed abandoned schools next, including the high schools. Take a picture, move on to something better.”

Another comment from Telethia Denise Barrett said, “It was just paint y’all!! Paint!! The building was falling in on itself. Safety first!! Safety over paint. Right? What’s to come will make you more proud. The painting can [be replaced] and something similar will be done!! But watch the rebuild!!”

Dorothy Watkins said, “Thank you so much for the great work you’re doing. Sometimes you have to tear things down, to bring in something better. Everything on Broadway just about needs to go. I hope the Palace Theater is on the list.”

Few people commenting wanted the mural to stay.

Ricky Shipp said, “Yes, [it’s doing] something that was uncalled for. [It] should not have been torn down.”

Goldie Jay said, “The [demolition] crew should have never touched the Jackson’s mural [on] the side of this building.”

Prince has not announced any development plans for the site.

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