The Hoosierist: Bald Eagles at the Fashion Mall
Q: I swear I spotted a bald eagle circling above the Fashion Mall the other day. Does our national symbol really reside in Indy?
A: Though the land of Saks and Louis Vuitton doesn’t sound like the ideal eagle habitat, the folks at Wild Birds Unlimited (located just down 86th Street from the mall) say these massive, fish-hunting raptors are indeed regulars. “We see them all the time,” says one of the store’s clerks. Bald eagles like to live near water, and the White River is right behind the mall. The Wild Birds employees say they’ve gotten reports from kayakers of a huge riverside eagle nest in the vicinity. While spotting an eagle in Indiana still feels like seeing a unicorn, that’s going to change as the state’s population of the species expands thanks to years of reintroduction efforts. In 1991, there were just two nesting pairs. Today, there are between 200 and 250. Pretty soon, they’ll be swooping in for French fries from the Cheesecake Factory patio.
Q: Who builds those tiny BlueIndy cars? They don’t look particularly powerful.
A: Those diminutive, all-electric shoeboxes are made in Italy, but that’s the only thing they have in common with Maseratis and Ferraris. They’re manufactured in relatively small numbers for the French conglomerate Bollore, which uses them not just for BlueIndy, but for similar car rental services in Paris, London, and other locales. The Indy machines are, believe it or not, “beefed-up” versions of the European model (which must be made out of origami paper), generating 67 horsepower and going from zero to 37 miles per hour in a glacial 6.3 seconds. Which is fine for stop-and-go traffic downtown (or a golf course), but absolutely terrifying on I-465. Best to stay out of the passing lane.
Q: What did the city find during that archaeological dig that delayed the Transit Center construction? Anything cool?
A: If you’re referring to an ancient, cursed tomb or extraterrestrial artifacts, you’re going to be disappointed. The team of archaeologists investigating IndyGo’s new Downtown Transit Center site located mostly the detritus from various 19th- and 20th-century businesses that occupied the spot before the city bus service showed up last summer, including a restaurant, hotel, horse stable, and clothing store. The artifacts they unearthed included menus, blackboards, and retail displays. And yes, there was at least one arrowhead. But don’t get too excited. So far, no arks, holy grails, or crystal skulls.