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History of The Old Northside

During the late nineteenth century, a residence in what was then the Northside of the City was a mark of success and affluence. While industry and its accompanying working-class neighborhoods sprang up to the south, west, and east of the original Mile Square boundaries of the City, the wealthy built their mansions in the wooded and rural setting north of the commercial and retail district. The northward movement began as early as the late 1840s, but not until after the Civil War did the Northside see substantial development. From that time to the early 20th century, the area was the most fashionable place to live. After 1900, other areas still farther north were settled and the original Northside (which became "The Old Northside" by virtue of the migration) was supplanted by the region north of Fall Creek as the most prestigious residential area.

During the second half of the 19th century, The Old Northside was home to the principal leaders of Indianapolis' social, political, commercial and industrial life, as well as the location of leading religious and educational institutions. It reached its peak as the fashionable residential district of Indianapolis just prior to World War I, after which the area saw a period of slow decline which accelerated after the end of  World War II and during the 1950's. By the mid-1970s, a significant number of the original houses had been demolished. In the late 1970s, The Old Northside was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as an historic district. Soon after, the City of Indianapolis adopted The Old Northside Historic Preservation Plan. Since that time, the area has experienced a renaissance with virtually all of the historic buildings having been renovated and historically sympathetic in-fill structures have been added, making The Old Northside one of the premier historic districts in the Midwest.
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