Man Explores 'Abandoned Buildings' in Michael Jackson's Eerie Hometown Now 'Left to Rot'

A man has captured the eerie city of Gary, Indiana, in a series of striking photographs, with Michael Jackson's hometown now a shadow of its former glory.

The town, established in 1906, was once hailed as the "Magic City" as it prospered in the beginning of the 20th century.

Unquestionably the town's most famous son, Jackson was born there in 1958, and lived in the two-bedroom family home with his siblings before finding fame with the Jackson 5.

The family later moved to Los Angeles to pursue their music career. However the town hasn't forgotten the star, who died in 2009, with his family home preserved, while others paid tribute in an unofficial way.

Jackson's school, the Garnett Elementary School, now features a mural dedicated to the singer, urban photographer Matt Sloniker found.

The graffiti features the star dressed in his iconic black suit and white tie, which he wore at the 1995 VMA awards.

Sloniker explored the deserted parts of the town during a two-day trip, sharing videos to his TikTok page @decayingmatt, and @decayingmidwest on Instagram.

Sloniker, whose website indicates he's based in Wisconsin, told Newsweek: "The vibe was very eerie and empty.

Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.

"In the center of the city and in the abandoned buildings I ran into only a handful of people. The streets didn't even have a car on them until after lunchtime.

"What stood out to me the most was the animal hospital with all the equipment and dog kennels."

He claimed he explored the Lew Wallace High School, Horace Mann high school, Animal Hospital, City Methodist Church, American State Bank, a lambo garage, and Gilroy Stadium.

Sloniker added: "I visited the town to capture the beautiful architecture and historic buildings. There's a hospital and college in Gary I would like to explore as well, there is a lot of graffiti and broken everything (including floors and roofs collapsing.)

Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.

"I also explored Michael Jackson's elementary school with a mural of him in it.

"It's very sad to see the town the way it looks now, it definitely looked like a great place to live back in the good ole days."

As the photos indicate, some buildings appear to be frozen in time, with gym equipment and books lying around, while numerous windows are smashed, walls are crumbling, and graffiti adorns nearly every surface.

One of Sloniker's TikTok clips amassed more than 15 million views since being shared last week, as he said in the on-screen caption: "Once named the "Magic City," Gary, Indiana, is almost completely abandoned with over 13,000 buildings left to rot.

"1993 Gary was named Murder Capital of the U.S. with three times as many murders as Chicago.

Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
 Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.

"Although it's one of the most "dangerous" cities Gary was my favorite to explore. Mostly because there's no one to bother you."

The United States Steel Corporation acquired the land the town and mill would be built on, both named after Elbert Henry Gary, one of the founders of the company.

By 1908 up to 6,000 people, mostly laborers for U.S. Steel, lived in the town.

Over the next few years it experienced a population boom, until it reached its peak in 1960 with 178,320, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

 Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.

But soon after the town was in decline, as Indiana Public Media noted: "In the 1960s diminished demand along with competition from foreign steel hobbled the Indiana-based industry.

"Between 1960 and 2007, Gary's population dropped from almost 200,000 to less than half that number." Census estimates put the population as 74,879 in 2019.

Despite its declining population over the years, it managed to be named as the murder capital of the nation in 1993, an article from The Chicago Tribune the following year noted.

"The city of 119,125 had a record 110 killings in 1993, translating into a murder rate of 91 per 100,000 residents. That's well above the homicide rate in Washington, D.C., which has led the nation in recent years," the article said.

Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
 Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.
Abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.