Promote Your Neighborhoods

Recently, I’ve been exploring Indy’s less well-known neighborhoods, and have been finding some real gems. Starting with my post on the Southwest side earlier this month, digging deeper has been quite rewarding. The next surprising neighborhood I’ve found is on the near South Side containing the exquisite Sacred Heart church. One block east is the remarkably cool entrance to the Vollrath Tavern. A few steps to the east of this is a pedestrian bridge over Madison Avenue. That’s right, a pedestrian bridge. The only other (non-gerbil tubed) pedestrian bridge in town that I’m aware of is over I-65 on the Near Northwest Side. There are also several corner buildings in the area that are under utilized.

I have been south on Meridian Street a number of times, and I’ve seen the Sacred Heart spires, but nothing has compelled me to explore the area. I had (wrongly) assumed that the church was the only neighborhood attraction. The question I ask myself is this: Why did it take me a decade to truly discover this neighborhood? The only answer to my question is that this neighborhood has not been promoted enough. If we are to compete as a city against suburban counties and prevent an implosion, we must promote the advantages of neighborhood living. Neighborhoods have 2 important characteristics that aren’t viewable with a high-powered telescope in vinyl subdivisions: history and character.

Finally, as a general question to the readers of this blog: let me know about your neighborhood. What do you have that is unique?

Comments 21

  • Not that this is a new neighborhood, but I love Tarkington Park right along Meridian and 40th streets. I live in the new condos nearby and this park is very much underutilized – but very nice to look at. Playground, basketball court, hills, trees, baseball diamond and tennis courts. I often see the church using it, neighborhood residents. Lots of picnics and kite flying. It’s a pleasure to see this park in the middle of the city being utilized – especially since it is a very large park. My estimates are close to 8 acres but it could be more.

  • Thanks Mike. That’s certainly a place that isn’t thought about very often. I’ve probably driven or biked past it dozens of times, but never thought of actually using it. Good call.

  • Christian Park, which is between the Pleasant Run Parkway and English Avenue east of Sherman Drive is a VERY active park with Little League, softball leagues, pee-wee football, and lots of unorganized football, soccer, and basketball. Bonus: an authentic old Dairy Queen (outdoor) stand just west of the park.

    It’s in a working-class neighborhood, wedged between three rail lines and Irvington: Belt Line on the west, the old Pennsy/Brookville line on the north, and the CSX Hawthorne Yards on the south.

  • Did you see all the Graffiti along between Madison and Union Street? I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood as a kid, and still have some family that live in the area and go to Sacred Heart.

  • I did not see that graffiti. I was exclusively on Parker Avenue.

  • It’s interesting you bring up this issue, because starting in April unsung indy is launching which intends to spread interest in less well known urban neighborhoods.

    I suppose the theory is that most people know about Broadripple, Fountain Square, Lockerbie, etc., but there are quite a few areas that fly under the radar, so to speak. Keep your eyes open, should be some interesting marketing tools flying around next month.

  • That looks very promising, Graeme. Launching a project on April Fools Day always makes me wary, though…he he…

  • I recently moved to the St. Joseph neighborhood, so of…I am right on the border between St. Joseph and the Old Northside. Here are a few things that have caught my attention. You did a post a few months ago about the row houses on N. Alabama, definitely one of the best features about the neighborhood. Its so close to everything downtown has to offer, but yet it is still a very quiet neighborhood. The people of the neighborhood are very eclectic and did I mention all of the classic homes!

  • I have lived in the near west side of Indy for about 6 years and love it. I live specifically in the Hawthorne neighborhood and like the fact that the streets are wider, there seems to be more space between the homes and it is suprisingly quiet for being so close to downtown Indy.

    We also have the best view of Indy, IMHO! MHeidelberger captured our great view in one of his photos :

    Also we have a lot of great ethnic restaurants in the area as well as other great places such as the venerable “Workingman’s Friend” and “Judge’s BBQ”

    Lastly, if you really want to check out something really unique, albeit a bit creepy try the Indiana Medical History Museum :


  • Thanks am. Odd question here, but is Vaquero Chicano still there? Haven’t been there for a while, but last I checked they were closed. That was one of my favorite ethnic places in Indy.

  • I don’t believe so. A new (temporary) sign went up a few months ago ( I can’t remember the new name), but I have not checked it out yet. Perhaps this weekend I will.


  • Alright, well I know you're not too keen on the Southside, but we have some gems too!

    Beech Grove's main stretch has some cute features, especially Napoli Villa, one of the best Italian restaurants around (
    Also, there is a hair salon called Curl up & Dye, which is priceless.

    And in Wanamaker, you can find The Ordinary's famous pizza and Friday night fish frys at the old Wheatley's grocery.

  • Southport has many unique houses and of course Long’s Bakery and The Acropolis.

  • I wouldn’t say I’m not keen on the South Side. I believe you are a person I met on this recent social bike ride. It’s good to see you here.

    Here are some posts that I’ve made on the South Side, if you’ve missed them: here, here, here, here, and and here.
    It’s true that I don’t really know as much about the South Side as the North Side. But I view all parts of the city as important in our efforts towards a more sustainable Indianapolis.

  • Irish Hill!!!! PBR built their first bar in Indy there by the tracks which still stands today.

  • I liked your suggestion to promote our neighborhoods, so I did a write-up on my website. Just wanted to jump in on the fun.

  • I guess I was only referencing your one-time statement about Shallo’s being in “a part of town that I avoid at all costs.” No matter, though; I’m glad to see you have hope for all sides of Indy.

    And sadly, I don’t believe we’ve met, as all of my bike rides are confined to the expansive greenways of Muncie, Indiana…

    Enjoying your blog, though!

  • Oh, I see! Actually, I don’t like the area that Shallos is in because it’s hopelessly sprawly. I say the same regarding Castleton or Avon.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • What about Herron-Morton? We actually have a home tour coming up on Sept 12. It’s a great neighborhood that often gets overshadowed by the Old Northside and Fall Creek.

  • I love Herron-Morton. Talbott Street has some of the coolest apartments in town. Thanks for the comment.

  • I am the owner of The Vollrath Tavern and I appreciate this article having noticed the good we are trying to do in this neighborhood despite the many naysayers. We’ve been seeing progress in the 3.5 years since I renovated this once GREAT and HISTORIC venue, turned dilapidated neighberhood haunt now back to its original intent of being a destination location for entertainment as we have taken on the roll of being both a local tavern but moreover a local ORIGINAL MUSIC ONLY venue.

    We are supporting the artists and with that doing our best to attract more and more great people back into this old, once wonderful but distressed and forgotten about treasure of a neighborhood on the very near south-side.

    We will also be turning one of the larger apartments in the European Style Hostel for traveling artists that either play in Indianapolis or that are simply passing through and need a comfortable yet affordable place to get some much need rest and relaxation, some quality down-time, so-to-speak.

    Kudos for the well written, open minded piece.

    Brian M. Alvey
    The Vollrath Tavern

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