Story and Photos By: Chris Wakefield
Chances are, you have driven by the Stringtown neighborhood on the near west side of Indianapolis, and didn’t even know it. Stringtown is bordered by the White River to the east, Belmont St. to the west, Washington St. to the south, and Michigan Ave. to the North.
Stringtown gets its name from the groups of houses that were lined up, or strung, across the Washington St. along the White River. It is a community with a rich history that has seen the industrial boom of the early 20th century, suffered from deadly floods, and rebuilt itself into a thriving neighborhood.
Stringtown was originally settled by German and English immigrants. They were farmers who found their way to the young state of Indiana. During this time Indianapolis was a very young city and Stringtown was considered to be on the outskirts of Indianapolis. The early farmers had lots of open space and fertile land to plant and grow their crops.
In the late 1800’s America saw a boom in newly built railroads that stretched from one side of the country to another. That including newly build lines that found their way to Stringtown. With the railroads came the factories. WIth the factories came more workers, and with the workers came more housing. Business was booming in Stringtown as factory workers built their homes, churches, and schools. The Indianola school was built 1890. It has since been torn down, but a park with its name rests on the spot today.
Stringtown found itself to be one of the most densely populated early urban communities as Indianapolis entered the 1900’s. That was until, the great flood of 1913. On March 23rd of 1913 rain began to fall across most of Central Indiana. The six inches of rain caused many rivers to flood; including the Ohio River and the White River. With flood waters reaching more than 19.5 feet, the White River flooded quickly and the Washington Street bridge, which helped connect Stringtown to downtown Indianapolis collapsed. A mere 15 years later, The Great Depression did not help matters.
It took Stringtown years to recover from the great flood. Houses were washed away, and entire families were uprooted from the neighbrohood and forced to live elsewhere. For the next eight decades, this became the legacy of Stringtown. A small neighborhood of row houses, rebuilt after the great flood, that struggled to climb back to the prominence it once knew.
Today, Stringtown is in full rebuild mode as neighbors, community organizations, and Buy To Renew work hard to help Stringtown shine again. Buy To Renew is doing its part also by purchasing abandoned, rundown, or neglected properties inside Stringtown and renewing them.
The Stringtown Park is a small park and greenspace that is placed right in the center of the neighborhood. The playground equipment is standard but the parks best features are its open, wide, and spacious plots of land that make for a great spot to have a picnic or an impromptu soccer match.
Indianola Park can be seen from Washington Street and sits on the former site of the school by the same name. There are numbers trees that cover the park and the landscape becomes quite beautiful to look at, especially during the fall when leaves begin to change color.
Indianapolis Metropolitan High School is located in Stringtown. “Indy Met”, as it is called, offers dual college credit courses and industry certifications to it’s students. The school was founded by, and is operated by the Goodwill Education Initiatives Inc. With its core values centered around Community, Respect, Responsibility, and Scholarship, Indy Met is a great addition to Stringtown.
If you have ever been to the Indianapolis Zoo or the IUPUI Campus, chances are you have driven by longtime Stringtown business Westside Bait & Tackle. It is a one stop shop for all of your fishing needs.
A large Goodwill Donation Center is on the northside of Stringtown and is connected to Indianapolis Metropolitan High School.
Local businesses Zimmer Welding and Carreto Auto Repair are also located in Stringtown.
Here at Buy to Renew we are committed to helping Stringtown continue on its mission of being a premier community that sets an example and continues to be one of the best neighborhoods in Indianapolis. Our mission is to renew our cities and neighborhoods, house by house, street by street. The Great Flood couldn’t stop Stringtown. The Great Depression couldn’t stop Stringtown. This neighborhood is strong, growing, and thriving. And that’s why we chose it as our Neighborhood of the Month.