Indianapolis Traction Terminal

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Indianapolis Traction Terminal
Indianapolis Traction and Terminal Company's main Terminal.jpg
The Indianapolis Traction Terminal in 1907
General information
Status Demolished
Type Railway station
Address Market & Illinois
Town or city Indianapolis, Indiana
Country United States
Coordinates 39°46′08.25″N 86°09′38″W / 39.7689583°N 86.16056°W / 39.7689583; -86.16056
Construction started July 1903
Completed September 1904
Demolished April 1972
Owner Indianapolis Traction & Terminal Company
Design and construction
Architecture firm D. H. Burnham & Company

The Indianapolis Traction Terminal was a major interurban train station in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. It was the largest interurban station in the world and at its peak handled 500 trains per day and seven million passengers per year.[3] The station opened in 1904 and remained in use until 1941, when interurban operation ended. It continued to serve as a bus station until 1968 and was demolished in 1972. The Hilton Indianapolis now stands at its location.


Diagram of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal complex
The waiting platform

The terminal was designed by D. H. Burnham & Company, an architectural firm based in Chicago. The terminal consisted of three parts: a nine-story office building, a passenger waiting platform, and an adjoining train shed.

The train shed was 133 feet 9 inches (40.77 m) wide and covered nine tracks. It was positioned north-south, with trains entering from Market Street and exiting to Ohio Street. The train shed severed Wabash Street.[1]

East of the train shed was the waiting station. This consisted of a 37-foot-6-inch (11.43 m) by 137-foot (42 m) platform covered by a skylight, with waiting rooms underneath.[1]

The office building stood nine stories tall and was 163 feet 8 inches (49.89 m) by 68 feet (21 m) at its base. The building's frame was constructed with steel. The exterior of the first two stories was covered in Bedford limestone, native to Indiana, while the remaining seven stories were "speckled brick."[1]

The original complex included a freight-handling area in the northwest corner. By 1918 freight traffic outstripped the terminal's ability to handle it and the Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company constructed a separate freight station on Kentucky Avenue. All freight traffic to the terminal ended in 1924.[2]


View of interurban tracks on the Market Street side of the Traction Terminal, with the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the background to the east

The terminal was the joint effort of seven interurban railroads which provided service to Indianapolis: Indiana Traction; Indianapolis and Eastern Railway; Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction; Indianapolis, Columbus and Southern Traction; Indianapolis and Martinville Rapid Transit; Indianapolis Coal Traction; and the Indianapolis and Northwestern Traction.[1] Construction began in July 1903 and was completed in September 1904.[2] The total cost of construction exceeded US$1,000,000.[4]:19 It was the largest interurban station in the world.[1][5]:69

Indianapolis stood at the center of a large interurban network; in 1914 the terminal handled 500 trains per day and seven million passengers per year.[4]:19 Interurban service to the terminal ended in 1941 as the industry collapsed. The tracks were paved over but the terminal remained in use as a bus station until October, 1968, at which time the former train shed was demolished. In April 1972 the office building was demolished as well.[2] The Hilton Indianapolis, originally constructed as the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana, now occupies the block.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The New Terminal Station of the Indianapolis Traction & Terminal Co.". Street Railway Review XV (1). January 15, 1905. 
  2. ^ a b c d Marlette, Jerry (1994). "Indianapolis Traction Terminal". The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 058517685X. OCLC 48139849. 
  3. ^ "Transportation in Indianapolis: then and now". Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Middleton, William D. (1961). The interurban era. Milwaukee, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-8902-4003-5. OCLC 4357897. 
  5. ^ Hilton, George W.; Due, John Fitzgerald (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804705534. OCLC 237973. 
  6. ^ Hunter, Alan E.; Jarzen, Joseph E. Indiana's Historic National Road: The West Side, Indianapolis to Terre Haute. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 0738588628. OCLC 746834966. 

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