Story and photos by: Chris Wakefield
The Kennedy-King neighborhood is placed right in the heart of the Old Northside of Indianapolis. It’s borders stretch from 22nd street to the north, 16th street to the south, the Monon Trail to the east, and Central Ave. to the west.
Nestled at the center of this neighborhood is it’s namesake. The Martin Luther King Memorial Park, which encompasses the iconic and inspiring Landmark For Peace memorial. The memorial features a statue of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. reaching out their hands, arms outstretched, in a desperate plea for unity and peace.
The neighborhood, and subsequent statue, grew out of a night of turmoil, pain, and unity. On a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr was killed. As news began to spread across the country, riots broke out in large cities. That very evening Robert F Kennedy was campaigning in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kennedy was in the midst of a heavily contested primary for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
On a whim, Kennedy got into into the back of a flatbed truck and heading to the current spot where the Landmark for Peace statue sits. It was here that Kennedy gave a moving speech to the understandably upset and heartbroken crowd. He pleaded for peace in the city and echoed Martin Luther King’s words for unity. While other major cities across America saw riots that night, Indianapolis was quiet and reflective. Years later, the iconic Landmark For Peace statue was erected to commemorate that night.
PARKS, TRAILS, AND GREEN-SPACE
Today the Kennedy-King neighborhood is a diverse, vibrant, and growing community that reflects the much fabled dreams of Dr. King. It’s centerpiece, Martin Luther King Memorial Park stretches across four city blocks and features an aquatic center, a colorful playground, a newly built basketball court, and several acres of peaceful, well kept green space; perfect for picnicking and games. The park is the heartbeat of this community, and where most neighbors gather after work to meet up, or wait for their children to be dismissed from the nearby Center For Inquiry school. Impromptu pickup basketball games among kids are frequent at the Dream Court.
On the other side of College Avenue, on the east end of the neighborhood, the Monon Trail winds its way through Kennedy-King. With five street crossings and stops on the trail, it is very convenient for trail users to access the Monon and make their way south to Downtown Indianapolis, or north to Broad Ripple.
FOOD AND RESTAURANTS
On the very south end of the community sits a neighborhood Kroger grocery store. Newly renovated and refurbished, this grocery is a frequent stop for anyone in the surrounding area.
One of the most popular eating spots in Kennedy-King is the Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place. Widely believed to be one of the best restaurants in Indianapolis, this soul food joint is popular during lunchtime and Sunday’s. From ridiculously tasty pork chops, to heavenly mac and cheese, this place is a mandatory stop for most residents in Kennedy-King. With a friendly staff and reasonable prices, Kountry Kitchen is just like eating in your mother’s kitchen as a kid.
At just over a year old, the highly rated Cannon Ball Brewing Company is the latest in local breweries to pop up in Indianapolis. With a vast list of popular beers and a food menu that features a deviled egg taco, Cannon Ball Brewing is quickly becoming a favorite spot for residents in Kennedy-King.
As Indianapolis continues to see impressive growth, so too will the Kennedy-King neighborhood. With new homes being built, and older ones being renewed, this community is poised to be a hot-spot for years to come. Between it’s restaurants, new and old, and it’s convenient location (only 5 minutes away from downtown Indianapolis), keep an eye on this historic neighborhood, as it’s story is far from over.