It’s refreshing to see that some of the new projects in town pay homage to the city’s oldest development history.

Indy has a nice trend going on–honoring pieces of our past. Ralston’s Draft House opened a few months ago on Mass Ave–his surname, a nod to the man credited with platting Indianapolis, and known for assisting Pierre L’Enfant with laying out Washington, D.C.

Further resurrecting the man’s contribution, the new art boutique hotel alongside City Way (fronting Delaware and South Streets, among others), The Alexander, bears his first name. Alexander Ralston is probably getting more P.R. now than he ever did when he was wading through the muddy woodlands from which he would fashion our city’s first square mile.

The logo of the new hotel, representing that first square mile of Indianapolis is a clean, classic and contemporary version of Indy’s most deeply rooted history.

Venture within to discover more tipping of the hat to Indy history. Not only is the name of the fabulous upstairs bar “Plat 99” bloody clever (look at the original Ralston map and you will find 101 “squares” within that first mile–you may recognize that the hotel and bar stand within what was the 99th square of the plat map.

The night time view is romantic and unmistakably Indy–Lucas Oil Stadium looming in the near distance, ┬ájust south of what was the 94th platted square. The colorful lights are reminiscent of the changing guts of a kaleidoscope–inspiring ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from every angle.

Also of great appeal to Indy history lovers, there must be mention of the fabulous rendering of Madame C. J. Walker in a lounging area–and crafted completely from plastic combs. Recycled art is one of my favorites, and what a clever way to represent one of the city’s most inspiring entrepreneurs–and keeping it on brand/ hair related.

It’s wonderful to see such a contemporary space show respect to the city’s history. If you stay at the hotel, or visit the space, please chime in with your thoughts.

4 responses to “Friday Favorite: Recycling History For Now”

  1. duncan alney says:

    nice piece well done!!

  2. Joseph Alexander says:

    I’ve seen the original plat of Indianapolis before, but have never seen a framable print of it. For a fundraiser, ifyou could produce, say an 18 x 24 print of the plat, I would buy one happily!

  3. basil berchekas jr says:

    Tiffany, this is an excellent example of “LIVING HISTORY”, resurrected from our real history! (Let us not spread the words, though, that Alexander Ralston was paid for planning FOUR square miles of the original state donation for a future state capital…the state legislature in Corydon contracted with him to plan the four square mile state donation once the state commission charged with surveying the central location for the donation (they were the ones who met at Conner’s Prairie below Noblesville). Alexander Ralston used the excuse that Indianapolis would never grow beyond one square mile, and the legislature bought off on that even though he was paid to plan the full four square miles. he trekked through the wetlands along Pogues Run and adjacent territory and came to that conclusion. Hence the continuing lack of adequate rights-of-way for new streets throughout the central part of the city that would have been encompassed in the four square miles. The wider streets would have been much more adequate if extended beyond the original square mile, had the full four square miles been implemented.. But nevertheless, he did an outstanding job on the original square mile, and does deserve credit for that in these new historically oriented fine establishments! Hate to trivialize…I apologize! (Have a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from Alabama A&M University, so anything on urban planning gets my attention!)

  4. Dick Jenkins says:

    I, for one, have always been disappointed in Ralston’s original plat of the Mile square. Like so many site plans and layouts that look good from 5,000 feet, the symmetry and orderliness is lost to the users at 5′ or 6′ above the ground. Of course I am viewing the layout from the perspective of a contemporary viewer who has experienced the problems of moving traffic, installing and maintaining underground utilities, and searching for large, beautiful, public spaces. Ralston couldn’t have seen the technical issues that would be created by his diagonal avenues and narrow right-of-ways. L’Enfant, in his layout of Washington DC. also created these nightmarish 6-way intersections to befuddle future traffic engineers. But L’Enfant did a better job of creating large open public spaces in DC. Perhaps Ralston, if he had completed his contract to lay out 4 square miles, would have created a park-like corridor extending west from Monument Circle to the White River. I have always felt that Indianapolis has failed to develop the beauty and potential attraction of the river. Instead, our forefathers elected to create the much needed downtown park areas by moving or wiping out churches, businesses and houses along the way to the monied Old Northside. Planners of today are sensitive to these issues and doing their best to create great cities, but I’m pretty sure that 200 years from now, some armchair planner will be wondering what they were thinking.

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