Transportation Tuesday: Sad state of affairs for train transport in Indianapolis

I was really impressed with downtown Indianapolis. Ambitious restaurants. People on the streets. Bike Lanes. A canal walk trimmed with gardens. A riverfront developed with a music venue, walks, and a conservatory.

I thought the taxis out front was a good sign! Union Station, Indianapolis.

I thought the taxis out front was a good sign! Union Station, Indianapolis.

As is my usual, I went off to find the train station. Turning the corner onto Illinois Street, I saw the turreted Union Station from 1886. Cheered, I walked up to the door. A leathery guy having a smoke said “Too bad, it’s locked. Can’t get in.” Bummer.

I crossed the street to the Crown Plaza Hotel. It occupies the elevated tracks and dates from the 1980s, when Union Station was redeveloped as a mall. It’s interesting – the steelwork that held up the train sheds over the platforms are now worked into the hotel design. The Platforms on the other side are still active, so I don’t know what that sounds like in the guest rooms. Whereas Indianapolis used to host 200 trains a day, now only a handful call each week. Commuter service using the station seems to be a future goal, without definition.

Now. Indianapolis Train Station reduced to a staircase in a 1960s-blue tiled waiting room in a Greyhound Bus Station.

Now. Indianapolis Train Station reduced to a staircase in a 1960s-blue tiled waiting room in a Greyhound Bus Station.

I had to look online to discover how the interior of Union Station appears, but I got a photograph of the current Indianapolis train station. Nothing says more starkly how far the perception of public transportation fell in this country between the 1880s, and the 1960s.

It’s time to get a Great American Stations project going!

Then. Union Station, 1886. Indianapolis.

 

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.