The Marion County Historical Society is in the process of finalizing the schedule of events for 2014. These planned events are divided into two categories. The first category, Programs, will be traditional presentations related to the topic at an associated venue. The second category, Walking Tours, will be less formal tours with a short presentation on the historical topic followed by an informal discussion and beverage near the site of the tour.
With all the construction on the block bounded by Vermont Street, Capitol Avenue, Michigan Street, and Senate Avenue, it is a great time to take a look at how this block was the genesis of Indianapolis Auto Row 106 years ago.
In 1908, when Carl G. Fisher wanted to expand operations around his 330 North Illinois Street location, the area was already developed with commercial structures. Consequently, land and construction costs would have been higher for new development elsewhere on Illinois Street than in undeveloped locations. He decided on one block west in Capitol Avenue’s then residential neighborhood. The absence of zoning regulations there also allowed development of commercial uses within a residential area.
Indianapolis Auto Row began with the relocation of the Fisher Automobile Co. showroom to 400 North Capitol Avenue in 1908. Other auto-related businesses were soon to follow.
Between 1910 and 1930, approximately 25 buildings were constructed for automobile dealerships, tire companies, automotive parts, and manufacturing concerns along Capitol Avenue thus replacing the nineteenth century residences.
On the walking tour, led by Dennis E. Horvath, we’ll walk by the structures along North Capitol from Vermont to 14th Street learn more about Indianapolis’ early automotive era.
Dennis has been an avid collector of automobile facts and memorabilia for more than 30 years. He is a recognized speaker on automotive topics to groups like the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, the Studebaker National Museum, the Lincoln Highway Association, Purdue Road School, Wabash College, and the Biennial Automotive History Conference.
Dennis is the lead author of Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana published in the fall of 2002. The book is dedicated to sharing a look at Indiana's auto history and the state's present contributions to the automotive industry. His latest book Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Journey was published in the fall of 2013. Hoosier Tour examines how the 1913 Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour helped generate interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway later to be known as the Lincoln Highway.