Ever wonder what Alexander Ralston might say if he strolled around downtown Indianapolis today? What was once a precisely planned city has been slowly butchered throughout time. The broad, diagonal streets that angled towards the Circle, giving the city many unique wedge-shaped, flatiron buildings and six-pointed intersections, have been neutered– mostly for fortress-like structures that kill street level activity. Today’s ad looks at a business that took the primo spot of a once grand hotel that stood at the sharp point of Illinois Street, Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue.
The Hotel Lincoln opened in June of 1918 with only eight floors, not long after, topped with six additional floors, following the end of World War I. By 1955, the grand hotel took on the Sheraton name, as part of the national chain. Learn more about the hotel’s history here.
Barney Blickman had been a jeweler in Indianapolis for some twenty years, prior to opening his own 1800 square foot store on the high traffic corridor of Illinois Street in 1941. Taking over space at 101 West Washington Street, which had formerly been occupied by a local Haag’s Drugs. Art Deco touches added a tinge of sparkle to the heart of downtown shopping. A marquee made of circular glass and stainless steel announced the business to customers. Below the unique sign, a glass showcase showed off the pricey wares to be found beyond the door. Once inside, shoppers could browse among walnut cases with recessed fluorescent lighting.
No need to worry about the summer heat, as the store boasted central air-conditioning, a novelty for the early 1940’s. Unfortunately, the store opened four days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Blickman limped through the war years, dealing with credit restrictions and merchandise shortages. Surviving that, the business thrived throughout the 1950’s. By 1957, customers browsed through a new gift department that featured appliances and other electronic gadgets of the day. Barney himself ran the store until 1962, when he became a diamond specialist for the Warco Supply Company. The era of downtown retail was coming to an end, and the space at 101 West Washington Street was never occupied again. Barney passed away in 1970 at age 73.
The hotel closed in 1968. In 1973, the hotel stood empty, having been stripped of its once posh furnishings and salvageable copper piping and wiring. After Sheraton unloaded the aging beauty, a company called Gotham Hotels stepped in, but business was not good. On a cold February Saturday, a curious crowd assembled around to watch what was to become the largest implosion in Indianapolis to date. Today the Hyatt Regency, with an address of One South Capitol Avenue, serves the Indy visitor on the formerly triangular-shaped ground.
Indianapolis Star, October 25, 1950
Indianapolis Star, December 19, 1970
Indianapolis Star, September 29, 1957
Indianapolis Star, February 24, 1973
Polk’s City Directory, 1935, 1965, 1968