EAST CHICAGO - In 1918, Inland Steel Co. built 200 housing units for their

employees in an area which became known as the Sunnyside subdivision.

But those first units were only the beginning. Following World War II, a

growing housing shortage in the late 1940s prompted Inland to build 100 new

housing units adjacent to the original subdivision.

Inland rented these properties to both supervisory and hourly paid employees

at a bargain rate that was so low that there was very little turnover of

tenants, and a long waiting list of applicants, according to news clips from

Inland Steel that date back to the 1950s. The rent on these brick duplexes was

$95 per month in 1957. Rent was $65 per month for six-room, three bedroom units

in the orginal frame duplexes.

But Inland eventually decided to get out of the landlord business and, in

1963, turned over operation of the development to the Purdue-Calumet

Development Fundation. In 1969, Inland began selling the units, first to its

employees, and later to the general public.

Resident Dorothy O'Keefe moved to Sunnyside 25 years ago, while an employee

at Inland Steel.

"Inland was renting the houses out back then," she said. "But a month later,

I got word that Inland was selling the property, and I had to either move or


She made the decision to buy, and has lived in several houses within the

Sunnyside neighborhood.

"I met my husband here, who lived across the yard, and also worked at

Inland," she said. "When we got married, I moved into his house, and we rented

this house to his son, who was married. Back then, there were quite a few

neighbors who you lived next to and then you saw at work."

Although Inland cut its ties from the neighborhood years ago, many of the

original residents occupy the same homes.

"The neighborhood is quiet, and everyone keeps their property up," O'Keefe

said. "We don't visit with each other a lot, but everyone looks out for each

other. It's a melting post where all nationalities, blacks, whites and

Hispanics, all get along peacefully."

Although originally scheduled for demolition, in 1971, Inland made a

three-year committment to renovate the 200 original frame duplexes, which

became one of the Midwest's largest housing rehabilitaion projects at the time.

Heating, plumbing and electrical service was updated. The exteriors gained new

steel siding, windows and roofs.

But that wasn't the end for Sunnyside. The new Evergreen Estates mini

subdivision with six luxury homes was developed in 1974, and the remaining

Inland land was developed by Oscar Swanson in 1976.

When Dr. Charles Comer wanted to move to a new, larger home, yet longed to

stay within East Chicago, he contacted Inland about buying the vacant tract of

land, and became the developer of Evergreen Estates.

"The timing was just right and Inland sold us 5.2 acres, which was developed

into land to build six homes," Comer said. "I never thought of myself as a

developer. I just wanted to stay in East Chicago, yet I wanted a certain type

of home that wasn't available."

Comer went to the mayor's office for help in planning the streets and

sewers. Each of the homeowners found their own builder. Many of those residents

occupy the same home they build in the mid 1970s.

"People told me I was nuts for building an expensive home in East Chicago,

that I'd never sell it for what I paid," Comer said. "It probably would be

worth more had I built it in Munster, but I've been able to enjoy it all these

years, so I don't care."

Today, the phases of development within Sunnyside are obvious. While the

original duplexes remain, the area also includes some of East Chicago's largest

residences. Home prices range from about $35,000 for the earliest duplexes

built by Inland, to homes well over $100,000.

Sunnyside, on the city's eastern edge, is conveniently located. The

neighborhood's proximity to Cline Avenue makes for quick access to the Borman

Expressway and to Inland Steel, as was originally intended.

"It's a very unique community," said Edward Williams, a Sunnyside resident

for the past 16 years. "This is a close, warm community with a strong ethnicity

that is home to all races and relgions."