Road Trips

The Michigan City Uptown Arts District

In the heart of downtown Michigan City, at the end of the Michigan Road — or the beginning, depending on your perspective — you’ll find the Michigan City Uptown Arts District.

Michigan City Uptown Arts District. Map data © 2019 Google.

When I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008, this was some mighty depressed real estate. But in 2010 the Uptown Arts District was formed, and a slow transformation began. The transformation remains underway today, but “there’s a there there,” as we say in the road-tripping business. You can spend a pleasant day here popping in and out of the boutique shops and galleries, and enjoying a meal and a pint at one of the several restaurants.

Margaret and I did this on the day before Thanksgiving, a blustery and gray day. There wasn’t much action on this midweek day-before-a-holiday, but we were pleased to find many shops and pubs open.

Michigan City Uptown Arts District

We spent most of our time on the Uptown Arts District’s main drag, Franklin Street. It’s a downtown strip typical of Indiana, with plenty of old buildings in a row.

Michigan City Uptown Arts District

Several striking buildings line this strip, including this one, a former Eagles lodge. I’d sure like to know the story of that crazy roof!

Michigan City Uptown Arts District

Lots of public art lines Franklin Street. I liked this little scene on one of the street corners.

Michigan City Uptown Arts District

Given how close this is to Lake Michigan, this wavelike metal sculpture makes perfect sense.

Michigan City Uptown Arts District

We capped our Uptown Arts District stroll with a visit to an Irish pub, where we had a couple remarkably good pints of Guinness. From there we could see were within walking distance of a large outlet mall, so we went over and did a little early Christmas shopping. All in all, it was a lovely day. If you’d like to have a similarly lovely day, it awaits you at the end of the Michigan Road.

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8 thoughts on “The Michigan City Uptown Arts District

  1. Dan Cluley says:

    That does look appealing. Although I have spent quite a bit of time in Michigan City over the years, I have clearly neglected the old downtown area. Definitely on the list for next trip. Perhaps someone will finally do something with the old South Shore station building.

    • Downtown was worth neglecting 10 years ago. Now, it’s worth visiting! I’d be very pleased if the South Shore station could be repurposed and restored.

  2. analogphotobug says:

    I love it when these Old Town areas are preserved and revitalized. My hometown, Cincinnati, tore down a lot of great buildings in the name ‘Urban Renewal’.

    • So did my hometown, South Bend. They tore down the buildings and then their big urban renewal plans fell through. All of those vacant lots downtown. What a mess and a waste.

      I wonder what didn’t happen in Michigan City that so much of its old downtown appears to be intact.

  3. Michael Jacobs says:

    The ‘Urban Mall’ concept killed 2 vibrant downtowns in Indiana. Michigan City and South Bend. That roof atop the old Eagles building was the veranda for the ballroom.

    • Yes. I grew up in SB in the 70s and remember what a disaster River Bend Plaza was. Yet the urban mall seemed to work, for a while, in Richmond, Indiana. Hard telling why.

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