As happened in so many cities, the construction of Interstate highways through Indianapolis wreaked havoc on city streets.

I-65 and I-70 meet in Downtown Indianapolis on their respective north-south and east-west journeys. The two highways run concurrently on the east side of Downtown, from what is called the North Split to the South Split. The Splits are in the upper and lower right of this map excerpt.

Map data ©2023 Google.

The South Split was built so that Virginia Avenue, the diagonal road that radiates toward the lower-right corner of the map, to pass over the Interstates. But the diagonal road that radiates toward the upper-right corner of the map, Massachusetts Avenue, was dead ended. It continues on the other side of the Interstates.

Mass Ave dead end

The purist in me is always sad when I find this along an old road. At least you can get back to Mass Ave pretty easily — curve to the left onto Bellefontaine Street, and then turn right onto 10th Street, and then you can get back to Mass Ave.

Mass Ave dead end

Here’s where you go under the Interstates at 10th Street.

Going under the Interstate at 10th St.

I’m sure the railroad tracks that curve in here, and begin to run along the north side of Mass Ave, are part of why the highway designers chose to dead-end Mass Ave rather than build an overpass or an underpass to keep the road continuous. This is a southbound look from where Mass Ave resumes on the other side of the tracks.

Mass Ave at 10th

Turning around and facing northbound from the same spot, you find that Mass Ave is one way southbound here. That’s also a bummer for people like me who want to follow the old road. Fortunately, this one-way stretch lasts only a short time and it’s easy to follow city streets to get back to this road where it becomes two way again.

Mass Ave

This railroad track runs alongside Old SR 67 for a good long ways — all the way to Muncie. Sometimes it’s right next to the road, and sometimes it separated from the road by up to a half mile. In Anderson, Old SR 67 crosses this railroad track and from there runs along the south side of the road. But it’s a frequent companion as you travel. This scene about a mile and a quarter up the road is typical.

Mass Ave at Valley St.

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4 responses to “Old State Road 67 in Indianapolis at the Interstate 65 and 70 North Split”

  1. Shawn Braxton Avatar
    Shawn Braxton

    I don’t know about this location, but one of the most consistent themes in projects such as this is whose property got paved over. It’s almost always the case that the interstates went directly through the heart of Black and Brown neighborhoods. Of course, it was not directly phrased as such — it was couched in terms such as “we chose the location to preserve as much of the city’s tax base as possible,” i.e. build the road through places with low property values, i.e. Black and Brown neighborhoods. It’s often pretty jawdropping to overlay the historic red-lining maps, which determined where the Black and Brown neighborhoods were and were officially legal for many decades, over a map with the added interstate highway.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      Shawn, when I lived in Indianapolis, I met a couple that was running a small upscale, art style magazine store, and they had a number of publications that they put out themselves as art and print projects, including a large format paper publication. Those usually had articles of local themes by those in the position to know, and it’s there I read a horrific story about how the city of Indianapolis swept through the black neighborhoods, under the auspices of “urban renewal”, and basically bulldozed them to the ground. One of the details that made it so horrible, was that the city basically seized owned property, without compensation, and destroyed it, really just daring people to try and sue them to get their money back. What made this even weirder, is this happened at a pretty late date compared to other areas of the country. The city I live in now had one of the first black alderwomen, who was fighting for affordable housing, during the same period this was happening in Indianapolis. You are correct, tho, and there are really no heroes in the “urban renewal” process. Most all cities identified there “worst” areas, and used their federal payouts to “get rid of problem areas”. At least in the city I live in now, they compensated owners for their property value.

      BTW, the picture with the building that says Indy Reads Books, is / or was a used bookstore that also carried books by local Indianapolis authors. Spent more than a few evenings there for a local book release.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t know much about Indianapolis’s history with this, but I do know that I-65 tore out a lot of houses in one section of town, and that section is very depressed today. You can see it by entering this into Google Maps: 39.814447717143295, -86.18338063539262. When you drive through, you can see houses right on the edge of the Interstate, and they’re dilapidated.

  2. J P Avatar

    In response to Shawn and Andy, these roads bypassed most of what had traditionally been the Indianapolis black community along Indiana Avenue. That said, most of the areas under those highways was populated by poor people, and some of them were certainly black.

    I dated a girl in law school whose father was an appraiser. He appraised much of the real estate that the government bought for those interstates. He left me with the impression that most of it was quite run down.

    Personally, I think they missed a once in a generation chance to lower the highways so that the surface areas could be redeveloped.

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