The capital of Indiana is a true reflection of the best of the Midwest. Within the borders of Indianapolis, a resident can find an outlet for any interest. From sports to the arts, Indianapolis offers it all. A wonderful example is the six cultural districts, specifically Fountain Square.
This area was first settled by German immigrants, which fueled the commercial aspects of the neighborhood during the 1870s. Although the area started out as a small residential suburb of Indianapolis, it quickly grew into something much larger. The district became the main commercial district on the south side of the city, home to local businesses such as the Charles Yorger Meat Market and the Fountain Square State Bank. Other local businesses catering to clothing, shoes and of course, groceries and drug stores.
During the early 20th century, Fountain Square had the most active theaters in Indianapolis
Vaudeville and movie theaters were part of this mix.
By the 1960s, the district offered a wide variety of retail, entertainment and churches serving a diverse population. Yet a decline was on the horizon. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the area saw its population move outward, following the newer commercial developments. Interstates also meant the demolishing of swathes of housing and commercial buildings. A symbolic representation of this decline was the removal of the Fountain Square fountain to the Garfield Park Conservatory.
During the 1990s, as with many historical neighborhoods, an effort has been made to reinvest in this area of the city. The result has been a return of the unique cultural aspects of this south side downtown. Southeast Neighborhood Development and projects such as the Wheeler Arts Community and the Murphy Art Center have contributed to drawing artists to this district of Indianapolis, which has turned it into an artistic and cultural magnet.
With such an artistic bent, the neighborhood has also drawn unique restaurants, art galleries, live entertainment and studios. In addition, these newer residents have drawn other businesses to the area, reinvigorating this commercial district. There is even a dance hall inside a historical bowling alley and diner. Swing dance lessons are being offered here for residents, thus providing a fresh interest in a timeless art form.
Although the district has not completed its transformation, residents are working with the various neighborhood development projects to bring the homes back to their former glory. The region is also reflecting a diverse population and cultural aspects. One of the unique designations of this area is that it was part of the urban Main Street program within the state of Indiana. Long range plans for this district include revamping the street scapes, developing additional public spaces and using gateways plus signs to define this unique area of Indianapolis.
These efforts mean that this area is poised for even more development and expansion in the future. As it continues to be a cultural hub to its residents, this is also drawing visitors who want to explore the newest artistic district of this warm and welcoming Midwestern city.