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New archives feature: ‘Building Indianapolis’

Downtown Indianapolis, late 1980s
Downtown Indianapolis, late 1980s – UIndy Mayoral Archives

A new online feature from the University of Indianapolis Mayoral Archives offers a tour of the iconic buildings and construction projects that have helped to revitalize the city.

Building Indianapolis is a collection of documents, photos, video and other artifacts that flesh out the stories behind such developments as Market Square Arena, White River State Park, the Hoosier/RCA Dome, Victory Field and Circle Centre.

Although the phrase “public-private partnership” often comes up when such projects are discussed, the newly released materials show how those partnerships actually worked in practice, says Dr. Edward Frantz, director of the Mayoral Archives and associate professor of history at UIndy.

“These are concrete examples of how the city has changed since the ‘60s and the work that was done to remake the city,” he says.

One example is a 1995 news release in which then-Mayor Steve Goldsmith and then-Gov. Evan Bayh tout a $35 million package of city, state, federal and philanthropic funding to enhance White River State Park with an extension of the downtown canal, a large-screen theater and the reopening of the Washington Street bridge, creating (with the later addition of the Indiana State Museum) the complex of public attractions we see today.

Another noteworthy item from that same year is a promotional video, produced in a lively but slightly dated style, in which Goldsmith and a cast of community leaders, architects and developers salute the design of Circle Centre, which blended new construction with historic facades.

The new Building Indianapolis feature joins the previously released Bringing the Colts to Indianapolis, which recalls the effort to attract an NFL franchise to the city; Unigov: From City to Metropolis, exploring the then-controversial consolidation of city and county government launched in 1969; and The Making of a Mayor, which traces Richard Lugar’s early political career.

UIndy’s Mayoral Archives include documents, images, recordings and other materials donated to the university by former Indianapolis mayors and political leaders. Through a unique partnership with consultancy and software development firm HistoryIT, the vast collection of physical artifacts is being digitized and posted online for viewing by students, researchers, community leaders and the general public. Each item is cross-referenced through names and topics to steer interested viewers toward thousands of related items in the archives.

Learn more about the archives here.