Historic Streetcar Rails to Be Reused for Public Art Projects

One of the defining features of the history of Indianapolis is its urban streetcar network. The last streetcar to run in Indy was located on College Avenue. Here’s the network as it was built in 1923:

By the 1950s, the lines had largely been replaced by city buses. Instead of removing them, the rails were simply paved over. The current Red Line project has been excavating the tracks in the locations where the construction is most significant.

Then, Michael McKillop from Midtown Indy had an idea. Instead of scrapping the tracks (as was originally intended), they have been saved, and are currently located in a spot near where the Red Line will go:

Image Credit: Michael McKillop
Image Credit: Michael McKillop
Image Credit: Michael McKillop

These rails and bricks can either be sold to collectors, or reused for public art projects to be located around the Red Line stops. I look forward to seeing what artists can create.

Comments 7

  • That’s cool. I saw them being ripped out for construction at the 52nd St station last week and wondered what they would do with them.

    Kinda sad to think about how much time and money it will take in today’s environment to build a new transit network that will provide service on the level of what was once available.

    • Along the same line of thinking, it is amazing out cheap and efficiently it was done back then. I recall that Louisville started tearing up their lines in the 1930’s but put them back during WWII when rubber and gas were being rationed. Imagine the amount of work today it would take it remove a transit system one decade and then just put it back.

  • A couple years ago, I wiped out on a bike from an exposed part of the old streetcar/interurban track, down on Shelby near UIndy campus. It was dark and I didn’t see the rut. My tire got wedged in it and down I went. No real injuries but it was an interesting reminder of what I had long suspected…as well as the residual reminders in walkable urbanism as to where the old southside interurban stops used to be: Garfield Park, University Heights, Homecroft, Southport, Stop 11, Stop 12, Stop 13, etc.

  • Hello, sorry. Off topic here. This is Tom from GeoGuessr. Which one of you plays the Daily Challenge every day?

    • That’s me. I’m addicted to geoguessr.

      • Yeah, I think it’s great, too. Thanks for the reply! Even since before I started paying for pro, I usually consider it a good day when I can beat you. (There are a few other quality performers that also clearly don’t cheat that I also keep an eye on.)

  • too bad they can’t reuse them for.. you know… street cars…

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