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Meridian-Kessler is a residential neighborhood located about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of downtown Indianapolis. It is bounded on the north by Kessler Boulevard, on the east by the Monon Trail greenway corridor, on the south by 38th Street and to the west by Meridian Street. Meridian Street forms a shared boundary with the adjacent Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.
Beginning in the very late 1890s, a few wealthy individuals built a smattering of country estates along Meridian Street and neighboring streets north of Maple Road, which is now called 38th Street. However, the area remained mostly open farmland. Currently, a handful of the original area farmhouses still stand, with the oldest one dating back to 1832.
In 1905, the famous landscape architect George Kessler redesigned Maple Road into a grand urban parkway as part of his ambitious municipal plan to form a network of parks and boulevards to connect the City of Indianapolis. Also in 1905, Indianapolis annexed Meridian Street from 38th Street (formerly Maple Road) up to the town of Broad Ripple, a distance of almost 2 miles (3.2 km). The city's gradual road improvements in the area encouraged residential development. The neighborhood population boomed beginning in the early 1920s, and the area became one of the most prestigious addresses in Indianapolis. Wealthy individuals built grand homes along Meridian Street, Pennsylvania Street, and Washington Boulevard. However, the neighborhood did not develop solely as an exclusive enclave for the very wealthy, and most of the new residents were upper-middle class individuals who constructed smaller, but nonetheless stately houses throughout the neighborhood. Growth continued at a slower pace in the 1930s as the neighborhood filled up, and the wealthy continued their northern migration beyond the city limits to tony communities such as Meridian Hills and Williams Creek which expanded and incorporated during this decade. Nonetheless, Meridian-Kessler continued to be a neighborhood of choice for the affluent, and by the end of World War II it was built-out.
In 1965, the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association was formed to unify the neighborhood and protect its unique character.
Today, Meridian-Kessler remains a predominately upper-middle class area and a highly desirable neighborhood. Meridian-Kessler has achieved some degree of racial diversity, but it is less integrated than the neighboring Butler-Tarkington community.
- Bodenhamer, David; Barrows, Robert (1994). "Meridian-Kessler". The encyclopedia of Indianapolis. p. 990.
- Bodenhamer, David; Barrows, Robert (1994). "Mapleton-Fall Creek". The encyclopedia of Indianapolis. p. 960.