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If you happen to see some superheroes or gunslingers walking around this weekend, please, have no fear. It’s time for the 48th annual Gen Con to kick off in Indianapolis, meaning downtown will be full of con-goers providing a fun distraction for Indy residents. The event will bring nearly 60,000 table top game enthusiasts downtown, making it one of the largest conventions of the year. Attendees can often be seen roaming the streets dressed as their favorite fictitious characters. It truly adds to the ambiance of the city for one weekend, and everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, enjoy the show.

Indy has long catered to conventioneers. In fact, one publication greeted arriving guests for over sixty years promoting area attractions. Let’s take a look some of the sites that hypothetically would have greeted a gamer fifty years ago.

None of these haunts can be found in their original forms now. Riverside Park closed in 1970. The Storybook Zoo which became the Indianapolis Zoo moved from Washington Park in 1988 and the Indianapolis Indians moved to a new Victory Field in 1996. The 1965 team finished a disappointing 70-78 as the top affiliate for the Chicago White Sox. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

None of these haunts can be found in their original forms now. Riverside Park closed in 1970. The Storybook Zoo, which became the Indianapolis Zoo, moved from Washington Park in 1988, and the Indianapolis Indians moved to a new Victory Field in 1996. The 1965 team finished a disappointing 70-78 as the top affiliate for the Chicago White Sox. (Image: Indiana State Library)

The Hotel Severin is still checking in guests today although you now enter on the opposite side of the building. The former lobby became a ballroom after a renovation in 1988.

The Hotel Severin is still checking in guests today although, you now enter on the opposite side of the building. The former lobby became a ballroom after a renovation in 1988. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Some suggestions on where to eat. We all know about St. Elmo and many remember The Cozy. You entered the bar in an alley (Wabash Street). The bar moved in to the parking structure that replaced the Ober building in 1996. The historic location is being converted into an Home 2 Suites by Hilton. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Some suggestions on where to eat. We all know about St. Elmo, and many remember The Cozy. You entered the bar in an alley (Wabash Street). The bar moved across Pennsylvania Street in to the parking structure that replaced the Ober building in 1996. The original location is being converted into a Home 2 Suites by Hilton. (Image: Indiana State Library)

The three remaining downtown theaters were still showing the biggest movies of the day in 1965. Although no longer showing movies the Indiana and Circle have been restored. Sadly the Lyric was destroyed in 1970 (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The three remaining downtown theaters were still showing the biggest movies of the day in 1965. Although no longer showing movies, the Indiana and Circle have been restored.  Sadly the Lyric was destroyed in 1970 for a parking garage. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Visit Indy contends that the 590 conventions hosted in 2013 drew some 1.14 million people or over four times as many as visited in 1964. Of the three businesses the Milano Inn and Speedway Motel Restaurant still exist (minus the motel portion). You may not have heard of the Barnes Hotel but may have danced the night away at Ike and Jonesey's which is located on the ground floor. The hotel was converted to offices in the 1980's but you can still make out a faint advertisement painted on the side of the building. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Visit Indy contends that the 590 conventions hosted in 2013 drew some 1.14 million people or over four times as many that visited in 1964. Of the three businesses, the Milano Inn and Speedway Motel Restaurant still exist (minus the motel portion and now part of The Brickyard Crossing). You may not have heard of the Barnes Hotel, but may have danced the night away at Ike and Jonesey’s, which is located on the ground floor. The hotel was converted to offices in the 1980’s, but you can still make out a faint advertisement painted on the side of the building. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Yes bowling is fun but not at either of these locations today. After twenty years of decline the shopping center was demolished in 1992 after sitting vacant for several years. The North Eastwood Shopping Center still stands but is largely vacant. The last listening of the bowing alley was in 1994 (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

Yes, bowling is fun, but not at either of these locations today. After twenty years of decline, the shopping center was demolished in 1992 after sitting vacant for several years. The North Eastwood Shopping Center still stands, but is largely vacant. The last listing of the bowing alley was in 1994.(Image: Indiana State Library)

Do you have any memories of these former attractions?

Printed Sources

Polk’s Indianapolis City Directory, 1965

Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, Indiana University Press 1994

Indianapolis Star, March 19, 1995

Indianapolis Star, April 23, 2014

 

2 responses to “At Your Leisure: This week in Indianapolis 1965”

  1. John Hale says:

    I remember taking the bus downtown with my Mom to see “Snow White” at the Lyric.

  2. Jack Rhodes says:

    Saw “Sound of Music” at the Lyric. We were late for the 2pm Saturday matinee. Sat down as a tardy Maria ran back to the abbey from the mountains. In those days they’d let you sit through to the next showing to catch what you’d missed. So I guess you could say I left “Sound of Music” after the opening credits.

    The Lyric sold a kids orange Kool Aid / Tang type drink in a plastic orange. At six years old, I just had to take that empty plastic container home to Greenfield for first grade Show & Tell the next Monday.

    Never knew that One Jackson Place and the home to Ike and Jonesy’s was once called the Barnes Hotel.

    By 1965, Riverside Amusement Park was beginning to struggle on its way to its 1970 closure. It was probably 1966 when my family made their last visit to Riverside. Riverside just seemed run down and dirty, even to a six year old. After that, we made the drive to Cincinnati’s Coney Island and later Kings Island.

    My mom was a bowler. I remember the Meadows Lanes hosting an annual tournament that her team would join. Big, loud, smoky. I seem to recall they used AMF lanes. She’d drive into Indpls to visit the better priced pro shop at Northeastwood. But the best bowling facility in Indpls was Hindel Bowl. Just looked at Yelp and was glad to see Hindel is still in business.

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