Film Photography

Walking the south side of Downtown Indianapolis

My new job is located Downtown in Indianapolis, but a couple blocks south of what’s considered to be Downtown’s heart. My last job was about two blocks east of Monument Circle, amid Indy’s tallest buildings. My new job is seven blocks south of Monument Circle, amid some very old houses, brand new expensive apartments, and decayed light industrial buildings.

I am in the office every Tuesday now, and sometimes on Friday as well, as I ease back into working in the office. On my first day back, I loaded some Ilford HP5 Plus into my delightful Olympus OM-2n. I hadn’t used my compact 40mm f/2. Zuiko Auto-S lens in a good long time, so I mounted it. I developed the film in LegacyPro L110, Dilution E (1+47) and scanned the negatives on my Minolta ScanDual II. I made these photos over about a three week span, on lunch hours and afternoon breaks.

In this part of Downtown, there are no parking garages. We all park on large surface lots. Fortunately, my employer picks up the tab. My previous employer did not, and it cost me $1,700 a year to park. These stairs lead to the popular LaRosa lot.

Steps to the parking lot

I don’t know what this lot is called but it’s immediately north of LaRosa. That this lot is empty says a lot about the state of returning to work in Downtown Indianapolis. In the background at left is the complex of buildings in which I work.


A lot of railroads used to converge in Downtown Indianapolis. The tracks were all elevated about 100 years ago; the infrastructure remains even though the railroads do not.

Under the bridge

A large building, which I would guess was once a factory, is within line of sight of the building in which I work. Part of it is a brewery today.

Ellison Brewing Co.

Other businesses take up other parts of this building, while other parts appear to be vacant.


This is the entrance to the main building in the office complex where I work. I’m told this used to be a high school — it looks the part. The specific building in which I work is brand new and stands next door.

Union 525

Our building is on Meridian Street, which is Indianapolis’s main north-south street. But because of the campuses of a couple of large employers and the location of a couple Interstate highways, this section of Meridian Street is cut off from the rest of it to the north and to the south. The buildings in the background are hotels and are brand new.

Cars and old houses

The Indianapolis Colts play at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is just a couple blocks away. It provides an interesting backdrop to these old houses.

Cars and old houses

These houses are a block to the west. These houses all seem so very old, from the late 1800s I’d guess. I wonder what kind of neighborhood this was in its time.

Old houses

This grand dame is around the corner from my office. It houses some sort of business today. I’m very curious about what it looks like inside.

Old house

That’s a quick look at most of the area around my new office. I haven’t shown you the new construction yet; that’ll be in a post to come.

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26 thoughts on “Walking the south side of Downtown Indianapolis

  1. Roger Meade says:

    It looks like you work in a pretty interesting and diverse area. Much better than the typical boring new office park.

    Among all the drek that hits my inbox each day, Down The Road is one of the few postings that I always look forward to and never delete. Some of the others are from your Saturday Recommended Reading list. Thanks Jim!

  2. Fascinating area and great photos. Grainy black and white is very fitting.

    “it cost me $1,700 a year to park.”
    What? A public transport pass for the Berlin area (+some towns around) costs 987 € if paid yearly. Sure it is subsidised but then roads are build and maintained with tax money as well.

    • I did pay for the more expensive garage right next door to my company’s building. I could have saved about $700 a year parking at LaRosa and walking the six blocks.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        When I lived in Washington DC ’00 to ’04, I paid 30 dollars for two hours parking downtown on a Saturday, in a “meh” parking lot. When I lived it Chicago in ’87 to ’90, my girlfriend paid 350 bucks a month to park downtown for work! Parking is ridiculously high, and ridiculously cheap to do! A lot of open lots in downtown Milwaukee are owned by the same family for over 50 years! All they have to do is keep the asphalt up, and pay their taxes, and with some minor snow-plowing, that’s their business! Even lots on the outskirts of downtown, where you’d have to walk 6 blocks or more to your building, would cost about a $1000 a year, but a bus pass for under 65 years old would cost about the same, maybe more, even tho busses are fast and frequent compared to a lot of other cities.

        • If I lived near the Red Line I’d strongly consider taking it to work just so I didn’t have to deal with my car — even though it would be an added cost!

  3. I love the old railroad viaducts. With their cast iron pillars, rivets, spalling concrete, shadows, and patterns, they offer a lot of photographic possibilities. I occasionally wonder if the railroad rights-of-way will one day be revitalized when we finally get intelligent in USA about mass transit.

  4. The school building to which you refer was the Harry E. Wood High School, which focused on vocational training. The residential area to the south and west was heavily Jewish until most of the Jewish families moved north after World War II. Shapiro’s and a Jewish cemetery are all that remain of this once thriving Jewish community.

  5. The former school you mention is the former original Emmerich Manual Training High School, later named Harry E Wood High School, when the “new” Manual was built at the south end of the Madison Avenue Expressway (built to carry US 31 through the South Side), just south of Pleasant Run Parkway…

  6. You are welcome, Sir. If you do an article on the history of US 31 southward through Indianapolis, the South Side historic routes could be QUITE interesting and “involved”)!

    • I’ve done the Madison State Road from Downtown to Madison, which was fun. I don’t know that I ever documented that trip! I have photos though. 31 is an interesting road for sure and someday I’ll untangle that knot.

  7. It boggles my mind that the Olympus OM-2n sells for at most $200 but the 40mm f/2. Zuiko Auto-S sells for well over $2000.

    The area where your office is located seems a lot worse for wear.

    • That lens costs HOW much? Mine was given to me by a reader!

      The south side of Downtown has been neglected for decades. It’s starting to come back, though.

  8. Dan Cluley says:

    Looks like you are pretty close to Union Station. We had dinner there about 25 years ago and I remember the viaducts.

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