Editor's Note: August 2014
Last year, we began to notice a trend. It seemed every other week, a group of movers and shakers was gathering for a symposium or TEDx talk or Indiana Humanities conversation series to plot how to make the city a better place. The downtown-improvement Velocity plan was about to begin. And Indy’s bicentennial-centric Plan 2020—billing itself as “one of the largest efforts ever to chart a future for our city”—was in its infancy. So we came up with our own wild and crazy idea for this month’s cover story, “Model City”: Let’s take an inventive look at some projects that could elevate Indianapolis to the world-class place it wants to be.
You’ve probably noticed the civic ambition, too. The city feels like it has momentum, a push perhaps born out of hosting the Super Bowl, but which enthusiasts haven’t let flicker out. “I love the fact that when Indianapolis thinks boldly, we’re often rewarded,” says Bob Schultz, head of marketing for Indianapolis Downtown Inc. And we touch on a few of those historic moves as well (including, say, the time we almost built a 750-foot-high spire in White River State Park).
Otherwise, this feature is woven out of our imagination and dreams. When I met with my editors to brainstorm, I told them to pretend that money was no object, and no harebrained scheme was off the table. Turn the Monon into a skybridge with light rail? Absolutely! The only rule: The idea had to address a problem or an issue currently facing Indianapolis.
And there are problems. Crime. Schools. Abandoned homes. These issues are often centered around downtown and its environs, which is why you’ll probably notice that most of our ideas focus on Marion County. (That Monon proposal, however, would certainly be a super-fun way to better connect the city and the ’burbs.) Strengthening that core only bolsters the region—former Mayor Hudnut and his well-worn “suburbs of nowhere” would surely agree.
Will our projects ever come to fruition? Maybe not. (Although I suppose they could have been more far-fetched; no one envisioned Mayor Ballard one day trading his bicycle for a jet pack, or RoboCops patrolling 46201.) Ideally, they will at least spark your imagination. Because I have a prediction: Indy will look radically different by its 200th birthday—but not without a few outrageous ideas along the way.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
This column appeared in the August 2014 issue.