20th Century Street Name Changes In Marion County

After the first decade or so of Indianapolis’ existence, street names throughout the city, and the county, were a hodge podge of miscellanious names. From 1894 to 1899, many street names in the city were changed to give a more cohesive plan to Indianapolis. I have covered some of these: Changes of Indianapolis Street Names in 1895; Indianapolis: State Named Streets; and Why Do Indianapolis Street Numbers Start at 9? But that wasn’t the end of the street name changes in Indianapolis…and especially throughout Marion County. Today, I want to look at some of the old names that went by the wayside.

In 1918, rumored to be due to anti-German sentiment in the Indianapolis area, two street names had been changed. First, Bismarck Avenue became Pershing Street. Second, Germania Avenue became Belleview Place. This was two years after Schurman Avenue became henceforth known as Harding Street from what was Speedway Avenue (nee Lafayette Road/Crawfordsville Road, now Waterway Boulevard) north to 30th Street.

16th Street, at one point, had been known as Tinker Street. Audubon Road was the new name given, in 1903, to College Avenue in Irvington when that town was annexed by the city. 1916 also saw Fairgrounds Avenue changed to Fairfield. Bosart was the new name given to what was Mozart Street.

In June 1939, a series of street name changes occurred that would add some names to the city, while moving some around. 48th Street from the Monon to Keystone Avenue became 49th Street. 49th Street from Arsenal to Baltimore became 51st Street. Hunter Street, from Morris to Woodlawn, became St. Patrick Street.

Two streets without names were given names that were continuations of the streets they connected to: both 29th Street and 30th Street from Riverside to the White River bridge were given those names, even though to that point they had no official designation other than “unnamed public way.” The street that connected Limestone Street to the Michigan Street bridge over White River went from “unnamed street” to Michigan Street. And Michigan Street was changed to Michriver Street.

White River Parkway, East Drive, was the new name given to an unnamed street east of White River from Michigan Street to 10th Street, and from (the now named) 30th Street to 38th Street. Another parkway, this time Pleasant Run North Drive, took over the old Gale Street from English Avenue north to Avon Street, Avon Street from Gale to Front Street, and an unnamed street from Front Street to Sherman Drive. On the opposite side of the Pleasant Run, Lake Avenue from English Avenue to Sherman Drive became Pleasant Run Parkway South Drive.

An unnamed street from Fall Creek south to 16th Street would become Aquaduct Street. Mitchell Street would take over the first unnamed street from 10th to 11th west of Centennial. The first alley north of Palmer, from Meridian to Charles Streets, was renamed Heart Street, in reference to Sacred Heart Church. Oliver Avenue was continued from its end at White River Parkway West Drive to Kentucky Avenue. Northern Avenue became Caroline Street, and Jackson Street became Adams Street, from 34th to 38th.

Moving out to Marion County as a whole, quite a few of the old county roads were given names to better fit Indianapolis. Isenhour Road from Eagle Creek east to Michigan Road became 62nd Street. Poplar Grove Road and The Sheets Road became 86th Street. The Sheets Road was across Washington Township, from the Pike-Washington township line through the village of Sterling (at the Springhill and Williams Road) to the village of Nora at the Westfield Road. The road through Sterling was changed to Spring Mill Road, and Westfield Road was changed to Westfield Boulevard.

What is now Moller Road from 52nd Street north to 62nd Street was called Zionsville Road, and Zionsville Road from 62nd Street to 96th Street was called Pike Township Road. The old Platt-Whitehead Road became Ditch Road north of Westlane Road, and Grandview Drive south of the same. 21st Street outside the city limits of Indianapolis had been Shearer Pike. German Church Road, before being named after the interurban stop at the National Road (Washington Street) was known by both Franke Road (changed, apparently, due to confusion with Franklin Road) and Bade Road. Muessing Street and Muessing Road through Cumberland were also called Cumberland Road (the name it still has above 10th Street).

There were other names given to roads that weren’t because they were a straight line, but because they were the responsibility of a particular toll road company before Marion County took them over. For instance, Southport Road connected Antrim, at Mann Road, to what is now Sherman Drive, then turned south along Sherman to County Line Road. What is now Southport Road from what is now Emerson Avenue to Arlington Avenue, and Arlington Avenue from Southport Road to County Line Road was called Bunker Hill Road. Frye Road was the original name for Stop 11 Road. Center Church Road and Stop 8 Road were both names for what is now Edgewood Avenue (which, strangely, is 1/2 mile south of what was the town of Edgewood, which was on Norwood Road [now Epler Avenue]).

There are so many more that I could cover, but I feel like I have rambled on enough. Feel free to share, in the comments below, some that you know of.

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