single frame: Lafayette Theater

Lafayette Theater

Lafayette Theater
Olympus XA
Agfa Vista 200

Main Street in Lafayette, Indiana, is where the old Lafayette Road ends. It begins near downtown Indianapolis, and has since at least the 1830s brought travelers between these two Indiana cities.

If you’ve never walked this, Lafayette’s main drag, do. It’s a remarkable little downtown, much nicer than most Indiana cities of its size and history. Sure, you will find much nicer downtowns in Carmel and Fishers. But they are Johnny-come-latelys to the city scene, having grown large enough only in recent years to be considered cities (under Indiana law). And they are what they are only because of their proximity to Indianapolis. Lafayette was founded in 1825 and thrived without being any other city’s bedroom community. It has withstood the dramatic economic changes that have faced Indiana cities while remaining lovely and interesting.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.



8 responses to “single frame: Lafayette Theater”

  1. Roger Meade Avatar
    Roger Meade

    Many years ago, back in the 60’s, I visited Lafayette from Detroit via the Wabash RR. I was a young railfan who wanted to photograph Monon’s new Alco Century 628 locomotives. They were huge brutes in gold paint with black trim. I arrived late in the evening and took a room in a downtown hotel right on the main drag. Slow to get moving the next morning, I was startled by an unmistakable rumble- a freight train was coming down the street and would pass right below my room. I threw on some clothes and grabbed my camera (Mamiyaflex C3) and ran down the steps to the outside entrance just in time to look straight at three of the monsters passing within a few feet of the hotel. I got off one blurred going away shot, and that was the only time I saw those big Alco’s (American Locomotive Co.). After breakfast I went to the Monon shops and was given a guided tour by the Monon Road Foreman of Engines there. I got a lot of nice shots in the shops and outside, of lots of other Monon diesels, but no more Century power. That afternoon I rode the Monon’s “Thoroughbred” passenger train from Lafayette to Chicago. It was a very enjoyable trip with the one disapointment of not getting any good shots of those big engines- but I have never forgotten seeing them up close, rumbling down a city street with a long freight train in tow. I imagine the tracks are long gone from that street now. I can’t imagine the frustration of drivers trying to cross town with a long train in front of their route, and the RR probably had regular trouble with people parking foul of the track, because “they don’t actually run trains here, do they”?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a great memory.

      I lived in Terre Haute in the 90s, and I swear, every rail line in the universe passes through that town, all with at-grade crossings of the city’s streets. It was a universally accepted reason for being late to work: “I got trained.”

  2. Kif Hurlbut Avatar
    Kif Hurlbut

    I must have walked by this place hundreds of times in the four years I lived in the area and never saw it this way. Very nice.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well I’m delighted to have given you a new perspective!

  3. dionyb Avatar

    Putting this on my to do list the next time I visit my son at Purdue.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Definitely worth it. I visit my son at Purdue from the south, and I skip I-65 in favor of US 52, so I come in through downtown Lafayette.

  4. Richard Scholl Avatar
    Richard Scholl

    The stability of Lafayette’s downtown has benefited for years from the proximity of Purdue University, especially restaurants, bars and (for many years) movie theaters catering to the students.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, there’s no doubt about that. I wish my hometown of South Bend’s downtown had benefited similarly from having Notre Dame as its neighbor!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: