Lately my neighborhood of Irvington has been blessed with some good news (groundbreaking news from Indy Star, groundbreaking news from IDO). The plans for the Pennsylvania RR rail trail are being acted on and the work has begun. In short, this is an old railroad line that is being converted to public space, principally a walk/bike trail.
The defunct Pennsylvania Railroad line through Irvington was preserved for just this reason, and I believe it has a lot of support in the community. The latest “Pennsy Trail” presentation sounds pretty exciting, and the trail head will only be 2 blocks from the icehouse.
The full plans include a continuous pedestrian trail from one end of the state to the other (and hopefully continuing beyond those borders as well – the National Road Heritage Trail). There are additional resources at Indy Greenways host site, Indiana Trails host site, the Pennsy Trails arts fair site, and the trail designer host site.
The fun parts include the use of old over-passes and under-passes, at-grade crossings, insignia and logos, but the best part is the alterations to Ritter Ave (see pic above) and the recovery of the old commercial district in Irvington south of Washington Street.
I have no idea what this building is currently being used for…
This area along Bonna St used to be very important because of the importance of the railroad and the passengers riding it to the city every day. After the installation of streetcars and increasing use of automobiles, Washington St became the most trafficked commercial area. I’m hoping that the trail will bring people to Bonna St and make these old buildings viable again.
A rare book shop? (only by appt)
The old brick street and rail ROW – now a quasi parking lot
In addition to the commercial buildings, there are some fabulous old residences nearby. The town’s original founders and their relatives built some very impressive structures and some Irvingtonians have lovingly restored them. The one below is known as the Julian House and is an Italianate that will eventually be very close to the trail.
Then there are the many houses that have not been restored and are currently subdivided. Obviously the hope here is that someone will take the initiative to restore these. Now before you scream “gentrification kills diversity” let me point out that the beauty of Irvington is that these mansions are located directly next to very modest homes, duplexes, and apartments. There will always be affordable housing in the neighborhood, so fear not!
An unrestored authentic Irvington house