Archive for January, 2012

Transit Accessible Nightlife in Indianapolis


In honor of IndyGo’s decision to offer FREE bus rides during the final superbowl weekend, Urban Indy decided to put on our drinking caps and start exploring what routes might be useful for a visitor.  The purpose was to provide a simple guide for anyone unfamiliar with the city and its bus system to explore some interesting neighborhoods while enjoying some good local beer and food.

We discussed potential routes and attractions, and debated what would be most worthwhile for someone making this trip.  We concluded that the best option was to focus on a single route that hit some of the best places for nightlife in the city.  We chose bus route #17, which can get passengers close to the Broad Ripple, College Ave, Mass Ave, and downtown nightlife districts in one single route.

We decided to test out this route last Saturday and it worked pretty well.  The buses were on-time, clean, and full of friendly people.  We added on a separate trip to Fountain Square at the end because of the new Fountain Square Brewery grand opening event, but in general the #17 line will offer more than enough choices for superfans.

But, please note there are some major caveats with this:

  1. Bus service in Indianapolis typically ends much earlier than you would expect.  Always check the bus schedule for the day and time you want just to make sure there will be one available.  I recommend starting farther away from downtown and working your way back, just so you have the option to stay a bit longer at the last stop and walk the rest.
  2. Indianapolis has a small number of buses and 30 minute headways on route #17, so plan ahead when ordering those beers and paying the tab.

If you decide not to do the bus #17 route, there will be some other options including a free shuttle service between the different areas with nightlife, walking/biking along the cultural trail, or taking a cab.  Whatever you choose, enjoy it and be safe!

In the end, I hope anyone visiting these places has as much fun as we did.  Here’s a sample of our night’s events:

Twenty Tap was our first stop of the night All Twenty Taps (now 31!) have great local beer Twenty Tap with Dave (UI reader), Graeme (UI writer), Kevin (UI writer), and Joe (UI writer) Seats from Bush Stadium now reused as a bus stop IndyGo buses accept bikes in case you are planning a bike/ride event MacNiven's on Mass Ave is a local favorite Good beers and friendly bartenders at MacNiven's New bus canopy along Cultural Trail in Fountain Square Fountain Square Brewery lives up to the hype The Grand Opening of Fountain Square Brewery was well attended


The Catacombs of Tomlinson Hall


One of my favorite parts of Indianapolis is Market Street.  The east side of Market Street once hosted two really awesome buildings, the City Market building which is still there and Tomlinson Hall which was lost to fire in 1958.

A view of Tomlinson and City Market from the old County Courthouse

My experience with Tomlinson Hall began when I worked as the engineer for the City Market renovations.  The market space was upgraded and people seem to love it.  What a shame that we lost its companion so many years ago.  There are still parts to admire including an old arch in the west wing plaza.  But if you think that is the only part left, you might be surprised.

This arch is the last bit of Tomlinson Hall above ground

Pieces of Tomlinson Hall sit just below the West Wing plaza.  And not just any random bits of structure, but one of the most impressive basements in Indiana.  This place is special, and people in the city refer to it as the “the catacombs.”

A forest of brick columns

The barrel vaults and brick columns

The foundations of Tomlinson Hall were built using some amazing materials and construction techniques, which you just don’t come across often.  The details of the masonry show an attention to detail and familiarity with brick and stone that is hard to replicate.

A lateral arch supports the barrel vault ceiling at a niche below the sidewalk

Some of Indy's best masonry work is hidden below ground

Although it was not in the scope for the latest renovations for City Market property, this is really cool asset that I hope the city finds a way to share with the public at some point.

A view of the massive cut-stone piers that once supported Tomlinson Hall

Recently, City Market opened a taproom on their mezzanine and named it in honor of Tomlinson Hall.  The catacombs aren’t accessible by the public yet, but anyone can stop in at Tomlinson Taproom and celebrate it with a fresh, local pint of beer.

Footnote:  You can watch a video tour of the catacombs on this Youtube video from 2009 (fast forward to 4:30).