1933: Public Works Road Projects of Marion County, Part I

In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression caused by the stock market crash of October 1929, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked on his “new deal” plan of reviving the economy. While I will not be arguing the pros or cons of this plan (it is beyond the scope of this site), I will be commenting on the plans as announced in the Indianapolis Star of 28 June 1933.

Headline from Indianapolis Star, 28 June 1933, announcing Works plans

The headline of the newspaper clearly states that this will include $1.4 million in expenditures and employ 1,200 people. The projects included are “long contemplated” and that no large number of jobs will be available for at least two months.

There are six sections of the newspaper dedicated to the listing of these projects. While I could list them and be done with it, my plan is to not only list the project, but to also give a current day update of what the project was. You will notice that some of these projects never came to fruition. Some were removed by upgrades and bypasses. Some were just removed because it’s very hard to drive a car through a water feature.

16th Street bridge over Fall Creek. At the time, 16th Street’s east end from the west side was at Indiana Ave. This bridge would allow 16th Street to connect to Northwestern Ave., or SR 29 at the time.

Thompson Road bridge over White River. At the time, there was only one crossing of White River in all of Perry and Decatur Townships, that at Southport Road. This bridge was built, creating a second crossing of the river. This bridge was removed with the coming of I-465. The interstate bridge was built just north of the Thompson Road bridge.

Sherman Drive bridge over Fall Creek. I show no evidence that this bridge was ever built.

86th Street bridge over Eagle Creek. This would become part of SR 534/SR 100 in less than a decade.

Morris Street underpass of the Pennsylvania Railroad. If anyone of you have ever seen this underpass, you get the very distinct impression that it was a quick job without a lot of thought process.

86th Street from SR 13 to Moore Road. This would be the connecting project to the bridge listed above. At the time, SR 13 was Allisonville Road, which later became SR 37. This project would be eventually included in the SR 534/SR 100 belt highway plan.

Dandy Trail from US 52 (Lafayette Road) to SR 34 (Crawfordsville Road). The northern section of this project would eventually be removed as part of the Eagle Creek Reservoir project. Yes, the road is currently under water.

Harding Street from SR 34 to High School Road. For those from Indianapolis, and are as confused as I was when I read this, fear not. The current Harding Street runs north and south, not connecting the two places mentioned. However, the Harding Street listed here became 10th Street at some point. It makes a lot more sense that way, right?

High School Road from Southern Avenue to Valley Mills. Parts of this project would be removed with the expansion of what is now Indianapolis International Airport. Valley Mills is roughly at the corner of High School Road and Mooresville Road (SR 67 at the time).

Thompson Road from Valley Mills to US 31. Most of this was built, sort of. There is a now missing section between current SR 37 (Harding St.) and old SR 37 (Bluff Rd.). I can’t find any evidence this was ever built.

Thompson Road from Shelbyville Road to SR 29. SR 29 was the designation of what is now Southeastern Ave. This project was to improve the road conditions, which at the time (apparently) it was still a dirt road.

Fort Benjamin Road from County Line to Fort Harrison. A fifteen mile road? As best as I can tell, this would be Post Road, which never made it to the Marion-Johnson County Line.

Hague Road from Fort Harrison to Castleton. As best as I can tell, that would be to 82nd St.

Salt Lake Road from Dandy Trail to US 52. As best as I can tell, this was the original name for what is now 34th St.

46th Street from Millersville to SR 67. This road was removed in section between the two points, ending in a cul-de-sac just west of SR 67 (Pendleton Pike).

Shadeland Drive from 56th St. to SR 67. Ultimately, this would become part of the SR 534/SR 100 loop. SR 67, again, was Pendleton Pike.

56th Street from Brendonwood to Hague Road. Brendonwood was at Fall Creek. The Hague Road listed here would have to be, I assume, what is now Boy Scout Road.

Sherman Drive from 46th St. to SR 13 (Allisonville Road). As with the Fall Creek bridge listed in the previous section, I show no evidence this was ever built.

52nd St. from Keystone Av. to SR 13. This is still in existence.

21st St. from Shadeland to Cumberland. Still in existence.

Prospect St. from Emerson Ave. to US 52 (Brookville Road). This would have been built right beside the interurban tracks and the south edge of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Hawthorne Yards. I show no evidence it ever was built.


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