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Indianapolis VS Columbus

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Indianapolis VS Columbus

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  • #81756
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Indianapolis & Columbus: Similar Surfaces, Opposite (Urban) Cores

    Published May 17, 2010 at urban-out.com

    People love to compare cities and pit them against each other in an attempt to understand strengths and weaknesses of places, analyze overall regional urban patterns, and try to learn from other place’s successes and failures. One comparison I always hear, see, and read is between Indianapolis and Columbus, two cities that often get a ‘twin cities of the eastern Midwest’ tag. I find this characterization particularly interesting given that I have lived in both places for an extended period of time and have thus developed an understanding of each. While I completely appreciate this comparison and can understand it, I can’t help but notice many dissimilarities as well, ultimately leading me to believe that Indianapolis and Columbus are twins on paper, yet opposites at their (urban) core.

    READ MORE: http://urban-out.com/2010/05/17/indianapolis-columbus-similar-surfaces-opposite-urban-cores/

    #372163

    Neil Jaye
    Member

    I have been to Indy several times and I strongly get the “everything’s in one area and nothing anywhere else” feel to the city; mainly regarding nightlife. I do not recall any unique restaurants or events that make the city anything special in my mind, excluding the NFL and NBA.

    But, I can not say I have explored the city deeply so I admit my views may be mildly uneducated.

    #372164

    Talcott
    Member

    From one of the comments:

    I have noticed that DT Columbus embraces it’s river, whereas here in Indy it seems an afterthought.

    I haven’t been to Indianapolis, but I always had the impression that the opposite was true. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the compliment, but that surprised me a bit.

    #372165

    joev
    Participant

    I visited Indy for the first time last week, and there were a lot of things about their downtown that I was impressed with: Monument Circle, the Canal Walk, the closeness of its museums to lodging, this urban farm[/url], etc.

    But when I found out Indy’s answer to the Short North (Broad Ripple) was six miles outside of downtown, that put a damper on things. Without convenient transportation, I stayed downtown, where I found lots of generic chain restaurants and few unique things to do. I get the feeling that hardly anyone lives within two miles of downtown Indy, and while downtown Columbus isn’t bursting at the seams with residents, there are lots of robust residential neighborhoods within our 2-mile ring.

    #372166

    Columbusite
    Member

    Not too much new info here. C-bus’ urban core is neighborhood oriented vs. Indy’s which is downtown-centric.

    I’ve long pointed out Columbus’ shortcoming when it comes to highlighting our urban neighborhoods and making them user-friendly. Now there are kiosks and way-finding signage Downtown and more recently in the Short North. Old North Columbus even got some arches and there are way-finding signs in Franklinton (to the Arena District) and a few kiosks. However, it still has a ways to go, but more visitors are able to discover our neighborhoods more easily, especially after the Cap was built between the convention center and the Short North.

    Indianapolis’ alternative paper has a neighborhood guide, so that you can see there’s more than Downtown. I put together a map awhile ago with the various urban business districts and you can see that there are numerous commercial districts, but many that are close to Downtown are run-down. I think there was one with a good number of Hispanic businesses, but I forget which it is (blue are healthy red are not in good shape).

    #372167

    KHughes
    Member

    Long time lurker here, but I felt compelled to sign up and comment on this particular topic, given that I have lived in both cities.

    Indianapolis has a much stronger core, which is sustained by a very strong convention business. In fact, at one time Indy was only behind Las Vegas and pre-Katrina New Orleans for the number of convention visitors it hosted each year. Therefore, it has a very strong core infrastructure of hotels, restaurants, bars, etc…all within walking distance. I lived downtown and the only time I used my car was to get groceries once a week.

    The other great thing about Indianapolis is that there are far more people living downtown in comparison to Columbus. It was a wonderful urban living experience. Indy not only has a great mix of rental/condo/house options, but those options also span the price spectrum.

    As a whole, though, while I wish Columbus had a stronger core similar to Indy, the surrounding neighborhoods of Columbus are what makes Columbus more desirable in my opinion. Once you left the inner core of Indy the next “ring” around the city was extremely undesirable. I really felt that if I had lived in Indy long-term I would have had to make a stark choice between urban and suburban living, whereas in Columbus, neighborhoods such as German Village, Grandview, Victorian Village, etc….all provide sort of a nice mix between the urban/suburban lifestyle (at least in my opinion).

    #372168

    MattCooper
    Participant

    I have been living in Indianapolis for 2 years.

    Like KHughes said, Indianapolis has a truly thriving downtown. Its pretty amazing really. A mall of dramatic european-style mall of monuments. Really nice, first class museums (Indiana History, Eiteljorg Western Art, NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Fame). A quaint downtown zoo. Large urban park along the White River with concert venue. A park-like canal. Spiffing new sports arenas (Conseco, Lucas Oil, Victory Field). A very nice downtown mall as well as other shopping with grocery stores (e.g. Mass Ave.). A relevant Symphony Orchestra and several theaters. Indy is convention destination and hosts many National events (Final Four this year, Super Bowl 2012, Big Ten Tourney annually, and is a candidate city for the US World Cup bid 2018). And lots of people actually living downtown. People are out on the street every night. And overall the downtown is relatively densely packed together.

    On the immediate outskirts of downtown things become pretty ghetto with a few exceptions of urban revitalization in progress (Fountain Square, Fall Creek). The city then sprawls out much like Columbus. There are some very nice older neighborhoods along the winding White River to the north in a location roughly analogous to Clintonville. (Butler-Tarkington, Meridian-Kessler). Broad Ripple in particular is a gem of bungalow homes, local shops, and college dive bars with a real sense of community. Then, like Columbus, the Dublin/New Albany like suburbs are to the north (Zionville, Carmel).

    Columbus at this point has an empty, parking lot shell of a downtown that rolls up at 5 pm, with islands of revitalization in progress (e.g. Gay St.). Also in contrast to Indy, Columbus’s strength is the neighborhoods immediately surrounding downtown (Short North, Victorian Village, German Village, Grandview). Plus Columbus has a major public university.

    Basically Indy has a grown up downtown that is maybe something like 20 years ahead of Columbus. But Indy went a different way than Columbus. It seems to me that Indy was evisioned, planned, and massively invested in. And now there are problems paying for it all.

    I have the impression downtown Columbus is being taken back block by block, park by park, small project by small project, kinda like what I imagine happened in the Short North. At this point it is seems much more organic than what happened in Indy. How Columbus will ultimately create its downtown? I think it is still up in the air, but overall its pretty exciting.

    #372169

    KyleEzell
    Member

    Once Columbus truly fixes its downtown, we will put Indianapolis to shame.

    #372170

    Columbusite
    Member

    Downtown isn’t going to come back for quite some time since it depends so heavily on newbuilds and the street grid has been ruined for the most part. We’re better off focusing grassroots efforts on W Broad in Franklinton and Highland West, Parsons, Weinland Park, and Near East neighborhoods. No expensive time-consuming two-way conversions are needed, the building stock is already there and just needs touch ups and businesses. It would be quicker than re-building Downtown and offer more diverse revitalized neighborhoods.

    Also, don’t forget that there are cities we need to compete against that have a strong downtown and quality neighborhoods, like nearby Pittsburgh.

    #372171

    cc
    Member

    I have to agree that downtown is dead atm, but I think Pittsburgh is a special case where geography and historical demographics play a large part unlike Columbus which is bounded by little but developer’s egos. I also have to say they have overcome alot of economic strife that Columbus has never known. Personally, I think that C-bus neighborhoods will delevop themselves through the real estate market. I think it is the downtown that will need the most work and should have the most emphasis.

    Basically, downtown is the area that needs an intervention, imho.

    #372172

    I have visited Indianapolis several times, and I’ll admit it’s quite pleasant. It seems to be much more consolidated than Columbus’ downtown (which is probably true in most comparisons with Columbus).

    But I don’t think Columbus has to emulate Indianapolis or any other city. Our downtown is unique; our strengths are elsewhere, namely in the outskirts of downtown, with great potential here (Gay St.) and there (Scioto Mile)

    It will be quite some time before Downtown Columbus dramatically changes. A lot of it will hinge on the outcome of the 10-year plans, IMO. And a lot of it will hinge on how seriously Columbus’ communities and Columbus’ businesses want to change downtown, and continue to integrate it into those healthy outskirts. People will make the difference. Whether they travel in (by rail) or whether they walk out of their condos to do it remains to be seen.

    #372173

    cbuster
    Member

    The best way to differentiate ourselves from Indy (and to bring dramatic improvement to our downtown at the same time) is to invest in rail transit.

    #372174

    bjones7
    Participant

    We can only pray,cbuster!

    After reading all the forums/dispatch/etc, I feel like the BLUE JACKETS, are more likely to win the Stanley Cup, then Columbus getting a “rail transit”.

    I along with a lot of other people would love rail transit in Columbus, but its not going to happen. At least not anytime soon! Who knows, the 3C train, might give a little push to Columbus’s rail transit in the future?

    #372175

    Columbusite
    Member

    True, rail would make a big difference for both Downtown and neighborhoods along the route. We could boost up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Franklinton & the Hilltop while also encouraging more development in Downtown itself. Doing that alone would result in double the number of healthy “main streets” we have now. Parsons would be another great candidate.

    Still, I’m surprised they didn’t beat us in the non-rail department in the meantime. Or are their roads covered with sharrows, bike parking, and special scooter & microcar parking? They might even have a good bus system; what’s the word on non-rail transportation over there?

    #372176

    arenn
    Participant

    It’s interesting the take on this blog since the original poster is more positive on Columbus. I think Greg’s take more or less sums it up accurately. The downtown proper of Indianapolis is better, but their surrounding urban core is far weaker than Columbus.

    I also agree that Columbus is the city most likely to succeed in the Midwest (on conventional population and employment demographics). I actually think Indy’s potential is higher, but they’ve got some problems I don’t want to go into right now. I think Indy’s got a “fat tail” distribution where it is much more likely to be really good than really bad.

    My outsider’s critique of Columbus would be that it has perhaps embraced the “urbanist narrative” too completely. In short, maybe many people in Columbus “get it” a little too much. The things I see pushed here have a certain genericism about them. The are textbookish.

    Columbus needs desperately to strengthen its brand positioning, and you don’t do that with off the shelf solutions. Columbus has to be willing to buck the trends from time to time and really innovate and drive the urbanism agenda instead of following it. Not that you reject all best practices, but you can’t hang your hat on that alone. My $0.02.

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