CNN logo

Infoseek/Big Yellow

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Main banner

A tale of two Midwestern cities


Index ranks one the best, one the worst, for kids

October 19, 1997
Web posted at: 11:09 a.m. EDT (1509 GMT)

From Correspondent Lisa Price

(CNN) -- Naperville, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana, are only 50 miles apart. Inside their high schools, the classrooms look about the same. But step outside, and it becomes instantly clear that the two communities are worlds apart.

The disparity may affect the cities' children more than anyone else. A new quality of life index comparing living conditions in 219 cities throughout the United States rates Naperville as the best place for kids to grow up, and Gary as the worst.

In Gary, local high school student Caleb Ishman, says, "Most of the kids, some kids do go through poverty and gang violence. I think those are the two major things that affect our city."

In Naperville, "you don't have to worry about people shooting you and the violence going on constantly," said a student there.


The Children's Environmental Index, published by the non-profit Zero Population Growth organization, looked at quality of life indicators such as income, poverty and crime. It found Naperville residents outearn their Gary neighbors by nearly three times.

It also found the number of Gary children living in poverty exceeds 42 percent. In Naperville, just 1.1 percent of kids live in poverty.

And the difference in crime rates is dramatic. For every one crime committed in Naperville, 43 are committed in Gary.

Ishman says he would like to see Gary as he's heard it once was, a peaceful place to live. "Older people would tell me how you would get dressed up just to walk down the streets," said the 16-year-old. "I wish that I was back there, and I wish that we could see that now. As younger kids I know we were safer."

Community violence is not a worry for Naperville sophomore Matt Briggs and his friends. Matt's parents don't worry about it either.

"That's part of the reason we appreciate Naperville so much," Mike Briggs said. "Certainly as a family -- because we have seen some of the other areas."

Willie Horn, the principal of Gary's Emerson High School, said the study should mobilize the city and spur it to improve living conditions there, calling it "a wakeup call for our city."

Yet, despite their proximity, the distance between these two cities appears to be growing greater every day.


Related story:

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Infoseek search  

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards

You said it...
To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.