Downtown Indianapolis

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The downtown Indianapolis skyline, looking southeast.
Aerial of downtown Indianapolis, looking southwest. The photo depicts the central business district (center), with landmarks including the White River (top), IUPUI (top right), White River State Park (top center), and Lucas Oil Stadium (top left).

Downtown Indianapolis refers to the central business district of Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The boundaries of downtown Indianapolis have varied over time as the city has grown. The city's original platted area, the Mile Square, (bounded by North, South, East, and West streets) is sometimes used to denote the downtown area. However, the Indianapolis Regional Center Plan, which is the official plan for Downtown Indianapolis,[1] defines the boundaries to be 16th Street on the north, Interstate 65/70 on the east, Interstate 70 on the south and the Belt Railroad on the west.[2] The Regional Center therefore encompasses not only the Mile Square, but also the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis campus, White River State Park, and the Eli Lilly and Company corporate headquarters.


A long black-and-white photo of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, c. 1914
The Indiana Statehouse and West Market Street.

Indianapolis's downtown has undergone a transformation from a place of vacant storefronts and little activity to that of a dynamic urban district.In the 1970s, the city suffered from the problems that affected other Rust Belt cities, such as decreased economic activity, white flight, and racial tension.The City of Indianapolis dealt with these issues and came up with solutions to revitalize the city's downtown.

OneAmerica Tower

Modern skyscrapers were constructed in the area during the 1980s, including Salesforce Tower (built 1990). Revitalization of the Central Canal followed. This, along with plans for a new downtown mall, basketball arena, and new attractions such as museums, helped to revitalize Downtown Indianapolis.

Thirty-six apartment buildings in downtown Indianapolis are listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Apartments and Flats of Downtown Indianapolis Thematic Resources.[3]


Tourism is a large part of the economy of Downtown Indianapolis, due in large part to the presence of the Indiana Convention Center. White River State Park attracts tourists with its many offerings: the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indianapolis Zoo, the White River Gardens and the Central Canal, which connects the park to other parts of downtown. Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse host professional sports as well as music concerts and other events. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza are two historical landmarks in Downtown Indianapolis.

Shopping and cinemas[edit]

Downtown Indianapolis attractions include the Circle Centre Mall, which is considered to be one of the most successful downtown malls in the country. Circle Centre Mall also has GameWorks Studios arcade (now known as Tilt) and a nine-screen United Artists movie theater. The Indiana State Museum has an IMAX theater that shows documentaries and delayed releases of commercial IMAX movies. The Massachusetts Avenue Cultural District is home to a number of independent shops and boutiques.


An IndyGo bus arrives at a stop.

Although Downtown Indianapolis is home to the first Union Station in the world, demonstrating the city's late nineteenth-century heritage as a rail hub, only two trains currently stop in Indianapolis, Amtrak's Hoosier State and Cardinal. The waiting area and Greyhound bus station are located underneath Union Station's trainshed. Megabus is another intercity bus service that connects downtown Indianapolis to Chicago, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio; the provider's stop is located in front of Indianapolis City Market, one block from the Downtown Transit Center.

IndyGo is the city bus service that connects downtown to other parts of the city.


Developments in Downtown Indianapolis include the creation of the Cultural Trail throughout downtown,[4] construction of new mid to high rise buildings,[5] and the enlargement of the convention center.[6]

Cultural districts[edit]

Ann Dancing in front of The Sid-Mar on Mass Ave.

Six of the seven designated Indianapolis Cultural Districts are in or adjoining downtown. They are:

These areas have held historic and cultural importance to the city. In recent years, they have been revitalized, becoming major centers for tourism, commerce, and urban living.

Georgia Street in downtown was renovated to serve as Super Bowl Village during Super Bowl XLVI, and as an outdoor event space after the Super Bowl.

White River State Park is considered America’s only urban cultural state park with attractions like Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theater, the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, National Collegiate Athletic Association Headquarters and NCAA Hall of Champions, the Medal of Honor Memorial, Victory Field as home of the Indianapolis Indians, Military Park, and an outdoor concert area called the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn.

Night life[edit]

Nightlife along South Meridian Street in the Wholesale District.

Downtown's main nightlife areas are located on Meridian Street near Georgia Street and along Massachusetts Avenue. A variety of night clubs, live music venues, bars, and restaurants are clustered along South Meridian and Georgia streets between Monument Circle and Lucas Oil Stadium. Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave, lies northeast of the central business district, and is lined with high-end local bars and restaurants. Mass Ave is often considered as the hip and cosmopolitan neighborhood of downtown.

Some of the night clubs and bars in the Wholesale District include Bartinis, Cadillac Ranch, Sensu, Ice Ultra Lounge, 6 Lounge, Blu, Subterra Lounge, Ugly Monkey, Slippery Noodle Inn, Howl at the Moon, Tiki Bob's, Claddagh Irish Pub, Kilroy's Bar and Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, Jillian's, Scotty's Brewhouse and a cigar lounge called Nicky Blaines.[7] Mass Ave bars include Front Page Grill, Bazbeaux Pizza, Old Point Tavern, Bu Da Lounge, Chatterbox, Mesh on Mass, FortyFive Degrees, and Metro. Mass Ave also has various European bars that include MacNiven's (Scottish), Chatham Tap (English), and The Rathskeller (German).[8]

Cultural Trail[edit]

Complete in 2013, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an urban bike and pedestrian path that connects the city's five downtown Cultural Districts, neighborhoods, and entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system. The trail includes benches, bike racks, lighting, signage and bike rentals/drop-offs along the way and features local art work.


Downtown Indianapolis has three venues. Lucas Oil Stadium is the home of the NFL Indianapolis Colts and also hosts concerts and other sporting events including college basketball and it hosted Super Bowl XLVI. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the home of NBA's Indiana Pacers and WNBA's Indiana Fever and it hosts concerts and other sporting events. Victory Field is the home of Indianapolis Indians.

NCAA Hall of Champions[edit]

NCAA Hall of Champions building in Indianapolis

The NCAA Hall of Champions is a museum, exhibition center, and conference center located adjacent to the national office of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in White River State Park. The building was designed by architect Michael Graves.

Monument Circle[edit]

At the center of Indianapolis is Monument Circle, a traffic circle at the intersection of Meridian and Market Streets, featuring the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Monument Circle is depicted on the city’s flag. It is in the shadow of Indiana's tallest skyscraper, the Chase Tower. Until the early 1960s, Indianapolis zoning laws stated that no building could be taller than the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Each Christmas season, lights are strung onto the monument and lit in a ceremony known as the Circle of Lights, which attracts tens of thousands of Hoosiers to downtown Indianapolis on the day after Thanksgiving.

War Memorial Plaza[edit]

The Indiana World War Memorial

A five-block plaza at the intersection of Meridian and Vermont surrounds a large memorial dedicated to Hoosiers who have fought in American wars. It was originally constructed to honor the Indiana soldiers who died in World War I, but construction was halted due to lack of funding during the Great Depression, and it was not completed until 1951. The purpose of the memorial was later altered to encompass all American wars in which Hoosiers fought.

The monument is modeled after the Mausoleum of Maussollos. At 210 feet (64 m) tall it is approximately seventy-five feet taller than the original Mausoleum. On the north end of the War Memorial Plaza is the national headquarters of the American Legion and the Indianapolis Public Library's Central Library.


The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument c. 1907

The city is second only to Washington, D.C., for number of war monuments inside city limits.[9]

Murat Centre[edit]

Murat Shrine full view

The Murat Shrine, now officially known as Old National Centre and originally known as the Murat Temple and Murat Centre, is an entertainment venue in Indianapolis, Indiana, owned by the Murat Shriners of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. It is the oldest stage house in downtown Indianapolis that is still standing, the only Shrine temple in the world with a French-originating name, and the largest Shrine temple in North America.[10][11]

Other attractions[edit]

Scottish Rite Cathedral on Meridian Street

Other attractions in Downtown Indianapolis include:

Public art[edit]

The first instances of permanently installed public art begin in the early 1970s and include the following artworks:

Today there are many more public artworks in downtown and all around the city.


JW Marriott Indianapolis is a new addition to the Indy skyline

Downtown Indianapolis has a variety of hotels ranging from skyscrapers to small motels. Downtown has over 7,100 rooms, with over 4,000 of those rooms in hotels that are connected via a system of skywalks.[12] Some of the notable hotels in the skyline include JW Marriott Indianapolis, Hilton Indianapolis, Le Méridien Indianapolis Hotel, Conrad Indianapolis, Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, Hilton Garden Inn, Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre, Marriott Indianapolis, Omni Severin Hotel and the historic Columbia Club.


Several major hospitals are located in downtown Indianapolis, namely the Eskenazi Hospital; the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center; and the Academic Health Center of Indiana University Health, which includes University Hospital, the Simon Cancer Center, Riley Hospital for Children, and Methodist Hospital. IU Health operates its facilities as a single hospital and has constructed a people mover to connect them.


  1. ^ [1] Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ [2] Archived July 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  4. ^ "Home - Indianapolis Cultural Trail : Indianapolis Cultural Trail". Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Downtown Indy". DowntownIndy. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  6. ^ [3] Archived October 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Indianapolis - DOWNTOWN Night Club List". Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Marine training in Indy stirs concerns". Indianapolis Star. 2008-06-03. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  10. ^ Bodenhamer, David. The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994) pg.1026, 1027
  11. ^ "Downtown Indy". DowntownIndy. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°46′07″N 86°09′32″W / 39.7685°N 86.159°W / 39.7685; -86.159