4C: Indiana Avenue Cultural District
Indiana Avenue once served as the center of a vibrant and self sustaining Black community that offered robust economic opportunity, solid educational offerings, accessible housing, and a national jazz scene. All these aspects of the thriving Black community were systematically dismantled, but its memory and story lives on, as does the dream of its resurgence. Coordinated efforts must be supported that bring this cultural icon back in a genuine way that honors the past, not as simply history, but by reestablishing the promise it once offered. Support includes the uncovering and telling of history, packaging experiences, connecting initiatives, offering development support, and advocating for new development that contributes to its cultural and economic renaissance. While a vibrant Avenue will certainly attract tourists, it will do so because of its authenticity and its story of inclusive resurgence. Tourism must be careful to support, not usurp, the potential of this renewed, community led co-creation of a 21st century Avenue.
Value to the CommunityIndiana Avenue plays a prominent role in the history of Indianapolis at large, but a preeminent role in the history of the city's Black culture. Its systematic dismantling is symbolic of broader racial inequities, and its restoration can be symbolic of movement toward a more inclusive and just community, one where the center of Black culture is embraced as a regional destination.
Value to the Hospitality IndustryA cultural district acknowledging and celebrating Black culture offers an entirely new type of destination in Indy's portfolio, focused on an under-represented segment of Indy's cultural portfolio that is attractive to people of all backgrounds. Between existing signature black-focused events and the many other actions outlined in this plan to increase the presence of diverse cultures, we can help promote Black tourism in Indy.
- February 2023. Restoring Indiana Avenue’s History. Indianapolis initiated a process to develop a strategic plan for the future of Indiana Avenue. The goal is to honor and reclaim the vibrant history while moving forward and revitalizing the area. A Request for Expressed Interest was sent out in collaboration with stakeholders to create a strategic plan aimed at a thriving mixed-use African American commercial and cultural district.
- June 2022. Cultural Development organization created. The Urban Legacy Lands Initiative (ULLI) was established as a cultural development non-profit with a mission focused on preservation and revitalization of Indiana Avenue and other Black heritage areas.