Road Trips : US Tour 1997 : Indianapolis

Saturday 13 September 1997

What is it about the midwest which fascinates me so? Maybe it's the flatness or the greenness or the way that cities develop so differently than anywhere else in the country. Or maybe it's the people there: friendly, giving, unpretentious people who've never met a stranger. Frankly, as I've said before, I often think the south is overrated in this department. Aah, but I'll get back to this...



Indianapolis was great. Bob kept me in fine style at the Renaissance Tower due to an unhappy plaster moment in the guest room. During my two-plus days in the heartland of America, I was treated to a coast to coast tour of Indiana, from Terre Haute to Richmond. There were motels on Highway 40, tenderloins in Greensburg, a street fair in Indy, and cheap cigarettes everywhere.



Indiana more or less has created its own time zone by refusing to acknowledge Daylight Savings Time. This was a little odd as I changed my clock when I crossed into Eastern time, and then had to change it back when I realized the rules didn't apply here.

Once in, though, my inner clock somehow managed to adjust, and I actually managed to get a fair amount of rest while still seeing many things. I feel I covered Indiana more thoroughly than just about anyplace else on the tour, thanks to an extra day and a determined host.



The first brought a street fair in Fountain Square, a historic commercial district near downtown Indianapolis. There were bands, cute boys, and a really cool store devoted to 50's memorabilia which even contained a working bowling alley and soda fountain. The corner market with $1.60 a pack Camels was a big bonus too.



This night also brought my first look at neon Indianapolis. I was pleased. There is a quite respectable amount of 40's/50's/60's roadside architecture here.



Snapshots of Indianapolis included some great motels and drive-ins, including the soon-to-be -demolished Al Green's, the always appropriate White Castle, and Speedway IN, home of...surprise...the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. David's pick du jour: few things could compare with a meal at Shapiro's; I'm not sure why I was so surprised to find a really good Kosher deli here, but I'm glad it was!

Sunday 14 September 1997


Indy is a classic midwestern city, sprawling and laid out on an unrelenting grid pattern with a few diagonal streets for variety. US40, the current alignment of the old National Road cuts through from east to west.





If you look hard enough, you can find neighborhoods form every period from the mid-1800's to the present. Historic districts here have the typical midwestern sensibility ("people still have to live there so let's not turn it into Disneyland").