The United Northwest Area (UNWA) neighborhood is bounded on the west by the White River, on the north by 38th Street, and on the south by 16th Street. The eastern boundary forms a jagged, stair-step line: between 16th and 22nd Streets Fall Creek Boulevard is the boundary, between 22nd and 30th Streets I-65 is the boundary, and between 30th and 38th Streets Meridian is the boundary.

The United Northwest Area, or UNWA, began as an umbrella organization for several neighborhood groups in 1967.  It encompasses the historically distinct neighborhoods of Riverside to the south, United Northwest in the center, and Crown Hill to the north. The neighborhood is marked by Meridian Street (east), 38th Street (north), and White River (west). The southern boundary is somewhat in question, though 16th Street is generally agreed upon. UNWA’s population in 1990 was 22,204.

The history of the area now known as the UNWA began with the opening of the Central Canal in 1839.  About that time, Nathaniel West erected a cotton mill near the spot where the Michigan Road crossed the canal; this led to a small settlement known as Cottontown.  The ill-fated Canal, which proved to be inadequate both as a power source and as a transportation route, however, did attract industry and settlement to the near west side of Indianapolis.  In 1873 the Udell Ladder Works, the North Indianapolis Wagon Works, and the Henry Ocow Manufacturing Company all established a presence in the area.  This attracted additional people and businesses to the northern edge of the capital and led to the platting of North Indianapolis that same year.  The incorporation of Crown Hill Cemetery in 1863 also produced a northward push beyond the boundaries of the early city.  A local street railway company extended its lines with mule-drawn cars out to the cemetery located three miles from the Circle.  This enticed others to settle near the streetcar station which also produced a small settlement, known as Mapleton.

Until the turn of the century, however, residential development remained relatively sparse. [1]
In a commemorative booklet published in 1916, a member of Riverside Park Methodist Episcopal Church wrote that “only a few years back . . .  Riverside Park with all the land eastward to the Canal was nothing but farm land.  A mere half dozen houses were about all that could be found in the whole section.”  The writer goes on to say that “the change that came over the whole section was gradual” as “one farm after another was broken up into small plats,” which became gardens and were platted into town lots.  Soon “one street after another took unto itself form and cement walks displaced the customary foot paths. [2]
Those changes took place primarily after the turn of the century, but the area did have enough residents before 1900 to support at least two churches—Barnes United Methodist, founded in 1879 by a Methodist pastor meeting with parishioners in their homes; and First Baptist Church North Indianapolis founded in 1885.  The area also included the Indianapolis Country Club (organized 1891) which maintained a clubhouse, tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course at its location on the southwest corner of Michigan Road and Maple Road (now 38th Street).  As the residential area developed, local residents sought annexation to the city, partly to obtain cheaper natural gas rates;  they succeeded in their annexation effort in 1895.

The neighborhood began to blossom in the decade following the turn of the century.  One important factor was increasing mobility.  The extension of interurban (electric railway) lines into the area made the west side easily accessible to other parts of the city.  Streets like Roache Avenue that had once been “mere country roads,” as the Riverside Methodist booklet says, became frequently traveled urban roads.  As a result, several churches were established, many of which would play an important role in the area’s future.  The first Catholic church in the neighborhood, Holy Angels, was founded in 1903 at 28th Street and Northwestern Avenue.  Its first full-time priest was appointed the following year, and in 1907 Holy Angels added a school.  Riverside Methodist Episcopal began as a Sunday school group meeting in a double in 1904.  Its first building was completed in 1906 at the southwest corner of Schurmann Avenue and Chicago, the same year Mount Paran Baptist church was established at Senate Avenue and 11th Street. Two years later, the Rev. Garfield Haywood founded Christ Temple Church on West Michigan Road.  Haywood later moved the church’s location to Fall Creek Parkway near Northwestern Avenue in the mid-1920s, where it remains to this day as the largest Pentecostal church in the neighborhood.

Soon after the turn of the century, local businessman David Parry, manufacturer of carriages and automobiles, purchased several acres on the northwest edge of UNWA and developed them into his personal estate.  He hired Scotch-born landscape architect George MacDougall to design the grounds, which they called Golden Hill.  After Parry’s death in 1915, his family subdivided Golden Hill and hired MacDougall to plan the neighborhood.  Its curving streets and beautiful greenspaces soon became home to some of the city’s most prominent families, who guarded their privilege closely.  After the owner’s death, the homes in Golden Hill usually stayed within a family or were sold off to friends of the family. By 1983, 72 percent of the homes in the neighborhood had been acquired in this manner.{anchor_trigger id=”3″]Golden Hill illustrates a pattern that began in David Parry’s day and would intensify with time: conspicuous concentrations of wealth and affluence on the perimeter of UNWA in contrast to the modest or substandard housing that marked its core.

While Parry was developing his estate, an important addition to the neighborhood arose on a triangle of land located north of 30th Street and along the White River.  In many ways, the neighborhood’s 20th-century history can be traced in the story of Riverside Amusement Park—modest beginnings, a period of intense development through the early decades, and prosperity and tranquillity through mid-century followed by racial tensions and economic decline.  Troubled times were in the distant future, though, when Riverside opened in 1903 with a toboggan railway and some concession stands.  The owners, which included Indianapolis businessmen J. Clyde Power, Albert Lieber, and Bert Feibleman along with Pittsburgh investors, soon added several rides and built a dance hall, which would later become a skating rink.  The hall attracted thousands of visitors who came to dance to live orchestras and bands. [4]
Boating excursions on the White River, launched from the nearby city-owned Riverside Park, were an option as well. The dance hall, the amusement part rides, and the activity on White River combined to make UNWA one of the city’s primary entertainment centers in the early 20th century.

The period between 1910 and mid-century was one of stability and steady growth for both the park and the neighborhood.  Attorney Lewis Coleman began the Riverside Exhibition Company in 1919, gained control of the amusement park, and proceeded to issue stock, raising capital for improvements and additions to the park.  Coleman added two roller coasters and a 2,200 foot long miniature railroad, among other amusements and attractions.  At the same time, renowned urban planner and landscape architect George E. Kessler submitted a plan to develop a city-owned greenspace known as Riverside Park.

The neighborhood continued to develop residentially as well.  According to a Department of Development report, 75 percent of the homes in the area were constructed before 1939, and “most of [UNWA] developed between 1910 and the 1920s.” [5]
In addition, several important institutions moved into the neighborhood or constructed new buildings.  St. Vincent Hospital relocated from South and Delaware streets to Fall Creek Parkway near Illinois Street in 1913.  The Children’s Museum moved from Garfield Park to the home of Mary Stewart Carey at 1150 North Meridian Street, not far south of the neighborhood, in 1927.  It relocated to 3010 North Meridian Street in 1946. Riverside Methodist Church built a new building in 1929, and Pilgrim Baptist Church was founded in 1939.

Construction and development plateaued in the years prior to the Second World War and declined thereafter, due in part to the middle class push toward the suburbs. The change was not immediately apparent, and the neighborhood remained economically stable for several years. Riverside Amusement Park, for instance, enjoyed some of its most prosperous days during and after the war.  In 1952, an estimated one million people visited the park.  But all was not well at the seemingly healthy Riverside.

Since Lewis Coleman had purchased the amusement park in 1919, Riverside had maintained a policy of admitting only whites except on special days set aside for African- Americans.  That policy was economically viable in the first half of the century, when UNWA was a predominantly white neighborhood.  The area had a significant black population; School 87, a school for “colored children,” opened on Indianapolis Avenue in 1936.  But African- Americans constituted a minority and were concentrated in the inner core, surrounded by middle-class whites. The tension created by this arrangement varied.  Racism was rarely so public as that displayed by the pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church, who, shortly after World War II, predicted that “no Negro will ever come to Holy Angels.”  For that, he was replaced at the direction of Pope Pius XII. [6]
The priest’s attitude was no doubt shared by others in the neighborhood, but there are also examples of successful integration.  In 1948, one Indianapolis newspaper described Christ Temple Church as “the only interracial Protestant congregation in Indianapolis.” [7]
One estimate put the membership at 60 percent black and 40 percent white. [8]
Church members nicknamed Christ Temple “the speckled bird” in reference to its high level of integration.

The changes that occurred in the neighborhood can be seen in photos of Christ Temple’s congregation, still on display in the church’s library. Dating from early in the century up to the 1990s, the group shots show a good mix of black and white faces at mid-century.  By the 1960s, however, white faces were a distinct minority.  A decade later they were virtually absent.  Christ Temple’s transformation was gradual compared to that of the neighborhood at large.  In the years between 1950 and 1960, UNWA changed rapidly from a racially balanced but segregated neighborhood to almost exclusively African-American; the white population decreased by 59 percent between 1950 and 1960, while the proportion of African-Americans increased by 119 percent.

The decades of the 1950s and 1960s brought another change to the neighborhood that would affect it for years to come.  In the early 1950s the city of Indianapolis announced plans to use federal highway funds to construct a highway system that would connect with the proposed interstate road network.  Initial plans called for an outer belt to encircle the city, with branches extending to the downtown  area.  By 1960, the proposed plans clearly indicated that a new interstate would cut through the city’s established northwest side neighborhoods; soon, state officials began the work of purchasing homes, businesses, and other buildings and obtaining the highway right-of-way.  This quickly produced problems in the neighborhood as residents expressed their dissatisfaction with the prices offered for their properties.  The Community Service Council of Indianapolis spoke out in favor of additional assistance to those families displaced by the planned highway.  As construction proceeded, more and more families left the neighborhood.  The neighborhood counted some 3,000 fewer residents in 1970 than in 1960, due in part to the highway construction, and the outmigration continued in the ensuing years.

Amidst the controversy over the location of the highway, one neighborhood spokesman emerged to voice the concerns of local residents.  The Reverend Boniface Hardin, assistant pastor at Holy Angels Catholic Church located on Northwestern Avenue, led a strong neighborhood protest against the proposed interstate.  He claimed that the highway would add to the problem-plagued neighborhood and that the project would disrupt the lives of long-time residents.  Traveling to city hall, the statehouse, and to Washington D.C., Hardin voiced his opposition to the project.  His efforts met with little success as the local business sector, represented by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, pushed for the construction of the highway to help the city move forward.  Construction of the I-65 and I-70 inner loop was completed in 1975-1976, providing quick access to downtown Indianapolis, but also dividing those neighborhoods that comprised UNWA.

The year 1960 can be described as the beginning of UNWA’s modern history. By that year, the racial transformation was nearly complete.  In that year, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, an African-American congregation, began meeting in its new building at 3500 North Graceland Avenue.  Described by the Indianapolis Recorder as “the most imposing edifice in Indiana,” the church cost more than half a million dollars and resulted from the vision of Rev. R. T. Andrews, Mt. Zion’s long-time pastor.  The new church building was only the beginning of Rev. Andrews’ plans.  Throughout the 1960s and into the mid-70s, his church was the single largest and most active presence in the area.  In several stages over the course of several years, and with substantial help from the Lilly Endowment, Mt. Zion built several apartment complexes for seniors and handicapped people, a day care center, and a nursing home. The church’s goal was to provide complete “cradle to grave” care for the people it served. [9]

The new racial makeup was reflected in congregations around the neighborhood after 1960.  Riverside Methodist received its first African American pastor in the early ‘60s.  At Holy Angels, the Rev. Boniface Hardin was appointed associate pastor, becoming the first black pastor in the Catholic parish that “no Negro” would ever come to.  Holy Angels was by this time an almost exclusively black congregation, the third such Catholic parish in Indianapolis.

Hardin’s time at Holy Angels was not without controversy.  An outspoken advocate for blacks, his style offended and frightened some people.  In response, the archbishop of Indianapolis attempted in 1969 to relocate Hardin to another parish.  “Alleged efforts by the white power structure to have a prominent black Indianapolis Catholic priest whose name is linked with civil rights activities transferred out of the Hoosier Capital `for the sake of the city’ were revealed this week,” read one account in the Indianapolis Recorder. [10]
The archbishop backed down in the wake of strong opposition from both blacks and whites.

The vacuum created by white, middle-class flight was filled by poor African-Americans, and economic disinvestment followed. The traditionally strong industrial base remained intact, but retail shops withered and entertainment centers closed.  Riverside Amusement Park was no doubt the most visible and well-chronicled example.  The “whites only” policy was finally lifted in the mid ‘60s—by which time Riverside was losing more than $30,000 every year.  The high cost of new rides, maintenance, and insurance were all factors, but equally important was the element of fear: many potential patrons would no longer travel into an inner city neighborhood. Riverside closed for good at the end of the 1970 season, though many of its rides and buildings remained in place for several years.  Reporters who visited the site in the ‘70s found in the dilapidated buildings and overgrown weeds a poignant reminder of how much things had changed. “What is . . . striking, even haunting, is the silence,” read one such account. “Only the sound of a late November wind rustles the weeds where once children screamed as they enjoyed the Thriller ride and the ferris wheel.” [11]
The city ordered that all the rides and buildings be razed in 1978, and after that the former amusement park sat vacant.  The neighborhood received a second major blow in the same decade with the loss of its largest employer: in 1974, St. Vincent Hospital moved to a new location on West 86th Street between Ditch and Township Line Roads.

In the face of this near economic collapse, it fell to churches, charitable foundations, and government organizations to provide and preserve whatever opportunity and stability existed.  In 1979, Flanner House moved into a new $1.25 million facility at 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, in the heart of the UNWA neighborhood.  Started in 1898 as a settlement house for African-Americans, Flanner House had historically been an important center for adult education classes, vocational training, health care, and a variety of other services. Its new home indicated a renewed commitment to the area.  As a multi-service center, it administered federal and state welfare programs, housed a branch library, and conducted senior citizen and child-care programs. [12]

The same year that Flanner House’s new building was built, the United Northwest Area Association established a development corporation.  UNWA had been created in 1967 in response to the neighborhood’s deteriorating condition.  Its purpose was to fight crime and poverty and to lobby for improved city services.  UNWA’s participation in the Community Development Block Grant program achieved significant results: resurfaced streets, new curbs and sidewalks, and more than 150 rehabilitated houses. [13]
The development corporation was established in 1979 to build on this success by improving the local housing stock and providing low-cost housing to qualified area residents.

As the oldest organizations in the neighborhood, and the most stable as well, churches continued to play a crucial role. Like Mt. Zion Baptist, its neighbor not far to the north, Mt. Paran Baptist maintained an apartment complex for seniors. The church was also involved in the neighborhood in many unique ways, such as the home nursing service it provided for members beginning in 1953.  Pilgrim Baptist Church established Pilgrim Multi-Service Development, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to provide social services such as counseling, job placement, a food pantry, and health care.  Holy Angels continued to operate its school, and Christ Temple opened Christ Temple Christian Academy, for children in pre-school through third grade, in 1983.  Several years earlier, Mt. Zion Baptist had begun offering adult education courses for college credit in partnership with Indiana Central University (now the University of Indianapolis).

Despite these efforts, the 1990 U. S. census showed that UNWA was marked by unusually high levels of poverty and crime. The decay was hardly visible to a visitor who stayed near the area’s well-traveled perimeter.  UNWA had become, in a sense, a microcosm of the city: high concentrations of wealth at the outer edges, with increasing rates of poverty the closer one traveled toward the center.  Along the UNWA borders, or just beyond the borders, were some of the city’s most prestigious and well-known institutions:  North United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, the Children’s Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Golden Hill neighborhood.  UNWA could claim four golf courses and a country club as well.  Such luxuries proved of little use to an UNWA population plagued by an unemployment rate of 16 percent and a median household income of $14,700.  The median value of owner-occupied homes was $30,000, and nearly one-fifth of the all the housing was listed as substandard.  In 1992, in response to these conditions, the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD)designated a significant portion of UNWA as an area of special need.  A DMD report showed that from 1970 to 1990, the population of the redevelopment area declined by more than one-fourth, from 10,096 to 7,194.  The number of housing units declined slightly, and the crime rate was 9.4 per 100 residents, compared to 7.8 per 100 residents in the city at large. [14]

Grim as these statistics were, there were nonetheless reasons for hope.  In 1990, a new health center opened at 2700 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, next to Holy Angels Catholic Church.  Providing a wide range of health care services “at affordable fees based on ability to pay,” Blackburn Health Center was operated by Wishard Memorial Hospital.  It was named in honor of Cleo Blackburn, an African American minister and social worker who served for nearly forty years as the director of Flanner House.  In 1995, the Indianapolis Public Schools dedicated a new building for School 42.  The facility, located at 1002 W. 25th Street, replaced a 66-year old structure on the same site and had space for about 560 students, more than twice that of the old one.

There was also reason for hope based on the energy level of local churches. The most ambitious program was undertaken by Pilgrim Baptist Church.  In partnership with the United Northwest Development Corporation, Pilgrim proposed a three-phase neighborhood revitalization project. The first phase involved complete renovation of School 41, which had closed in 1981, into an apartment complex with 34 units as well as business offices and community rooms; that phase was finished in 1996.  When completed, the second and third phases will add 60 apartment units and a youth center.  UNWA lost one of its oldest churches in 1996, when Riverside United Methodist moved to a new location west of the neighborhood.  But other churches showed a strong commitment to remaining in the area.  Barnes United Methodist built a new sanctuary in 1987, and in the mid-1990s Holy Angels formulated plans for expanding its school.

Perhaps most interesting, though, are the plans underway to redevelop the site of the former Riverside Amusement Park. After the park’s closing in 1970, the land along White River sat unused, overgrown with weeds and littered with trash.  In the 1990s, the UNWA Development Corporation, in partnership with Methodist Hospital and Citizens Gas and Coke, developed a plan to build single-family homes and condominiums there.  This plan has created some controversy for a couple reasons.  First, the site is alleged to have been the source of a massive outbreak of histoplasmosis throughout the city when the amusement buildings were demolished in 1978; local health officials have expressed a concern about new construction on this site.  Second, the development plan involved a transfer of public lands along the White River, designated as part of the White River Greenway, to a private developer involved in the project.  This led to an unsuccessful lawsuit by the Hoosier Environmental Council and produced subsequent allegations that the private developer, an acquaintance of Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, had received a political favor in return for his contribution’s to the mayor’s campaign for governor.

For nearly a century, Riverside Amusement Park both shaped and reflected the plight of the UNWA neighborhood. Arising amidst the building boom of the early 20th century, the park prospered through the war years, withered through the 1960s, and then sat vacant for more than two decades.  If history is an accurate indicator, its redevelopment would seem to bode well for the future of the neighborhood at large.


William D. Dalton, “United Northwest Area,” in David J. Bodenhamer & Robert G. Barrows, eds., Encyclopedia of Indianapolis(Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1994), 1368.


  “A Story of Growth: Riverside Park Methodist Episcopal Church,” 1916, n.p. Archived in the Indiana State Museum.


  Sheryl D. Vanderstel, “Golden Hill,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 628-629.<


  David G. Vanderstel and Connie Zeigler, “Riverside Amusement Park,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1197-1198.


  Department of Metropolitan Development of Indianapolis-Marion County, “United Northwest Subarea Plan” (Indianapolis:  Department of Metropolitan Development Division of Planning, 1975), 21.


  James V. Smith, Jr., “Creating their own style from the white tradition,” Indianapolis News, 18 September 1986, B1.


Emma Rivers Milner, “People worship in own way at interracial church,” Indianapolis Times, 14 February 1948, 4.


  Lynn Ford, “Integrated city church had stormy history,” Indianapolis Star, 11 February 1990, B3.


  Connie Wynn, “Mt. Zion geriatric center a dream come true and more,” Indianapolis Recorder, 30 July 1977, 3.


  “Father Hardin condemned for being militant,” IndianapolisRecorder, 29 March 1969, 1.


Eric B. Schoch, “Another old pastime bites the dust: amusement park set for demolition,” Indianapolis Star, 26 November 1978, 3:1.


Michelle D. Hale, “Flanner House,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 577.


Dalton, Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1368.


Department of Metropolitan Development of Indianapolis-Marion County, “United Northwest Area” (Indianapolis:  Department of Metropolitan Development Division of Planning, 1995).


Phase One of the Pilgrim Apartments is completed by Pilgrim Baptist Church in partnership with the United Northwest Area Development Corporation. The first phase involves renovation of former School 41 into apartment units for senior citizens, business offices, and community rooms. When the remaining two phases are complete, the project is expected to provide a total of 94 apartments for seniors, a youth recreation center, and a counseling center.

In response to crowded conditions, Holy Angels pays for a feasibility study to assess the costs of expanding. The church plans to have a new parish hall and a new school by the year 2000.

Riverside Park United Methodist Church, founded in 1904 and one of the oldest churches in the area, moves to a new location west of UNWA’s boundaries. New Birth Baptist Church buys the building at 2440 Harding Street and begins meeting in it.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church begins renovating its former geriatric center, closed in 1996 due to a variety of problems and unexpected costs, into a site for the Head Start program.

The site of the former Riverside Amusement Park, now vacant land overgrown with weeds, is slated for redevelopment by the UNWA Development Corporation in partnership with Citizens Gas & Coke and Methodist Hospital. The group plans to construct single-family homes and condominiums on the site.  Marion County health officials express concern about development of the site since the 1978 demolition of the amusement park is alleged to have produced a massive outbreak of histoplasmosis (a respiratory ailment) in the city

In February the Hoosier Environmental Council files suit against the City of Indianapolis, seeking to invalidate a prior vote of the Metropolitan Development Commission’s plat committee and the city’s Board of Parks and Recreation that would allow development of a housing project on the Riverside Amusement Park site.  The environmental group argues that the land in question was public land and is part of the White River Greenway.

In May Marion County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Metz rules that he has no jurisdiction in a lawsuit filed by the Hoosier Environmental Council against the city to stop the use of public park land for residential development.


Construction begins on a new building for IPS School 42. The facility, completed the following year at 1002 W. 25th Street, replaces a 66-year old structure on the same site. It has space for about 560 students, more than twice that of the old building.

In June, a chemical explosion rocks Central Soya’s feed mill and processing plant, located at 1160 West 18th Street, causing injury to four people and an evacuation of the surrounding neighborhood. In October the company announces it will move soybean-processing operations elsewhere while maintaining the grain elevator and feed mill.

The city awards a $300,000 loan to UNWA Development Corporation to renovate and convert former IPS School 41 to accommodate low-income senior citizen housing.


The Department of Metropolitan Development identifies the United Northwest Area as a neighborhood of special need and targets a portion of it as a redevelopment area.


Golden Hill is added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Blackburn Health Center opens at 2700 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. Operated by Wishard Memorial Hospital, the center is named in honor of Cleo Blackburn, an African American minister and social worker who served for nearly forty years as the director of Flanner House.

The decennial U. S. census shows that UNWA’s population is 16,738. The unemployment rate is 16 percent, the median household income is $14,733, and nearly one-fourth of all families in the neighborhood live below the poverty level.


Barnes United Methodist Church dedicates a new sanctuary.


Michigan developer Mel Sachs purchases an option to buy the Riverside Amusement Park site and agrees in 1990 to pay $600,000.  In 1993 he defaults on the property which is then sold to the City of Indianapolis.


In honor of the former pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the city renames a stretch of Boulevard Place “Rev. R. T. Andrews Memorial Way.


Christ Temple Church founds Christ Temple Christian Academy for children from pre-school through third grade.


Pilgrim Baptist Church establishes Pilgrim Multi-Service Development, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to provide social services such as counseling, job placement, a food pantry, and health care to the neighborhood


IPS School 41 closes.


UNWA population is approximately 26,509: 7.2 percent white; 92.3 percent black.  Population has decreased by over 10,000 people since 1970.  Population decline blamed primarily on highway construction.

In honor of the founder of Christ Temple Church, the City of Indianapolis names a stretch of Fall Creek Parkway, from Riverside Drive to Keystone Avenue, “Bishop Garfield Haywood Memorial Way.”


Flanner House moves into a new, $1.25 million facility at 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. As a multi-service center, it administers federal and state welfare programs, houses a branch library, and conducts senior citizen and child-care programs.

The United Northwest Area Development Corporation is founded to “address the economic and development needs within the United Northwest Area community.” The corporation lists as its priorities “construction of new low/moderate income housing, rehabilitation of existing housing stock, and development of a program to encourage and support home-ownership.”


By order of the city’s Division of Code Enforcement, the rides and buildings at Riverside Amusement Park are razed.


Mt. Zion Baptist Church begins offering college credit courses in partnership with Indiana Central University.


Construction of the I-65 and I-70 “inner loop” completed.  Critics charge that highway construction has displaced residents and divided the neighborhoods of UNWA.


St. Vincent Hospital relocates to a new facility on West 86thStreet, leaving its Fall Creek Parkway location. The hospital had been the largest employer in the neighborhood.

Christ Temple Church completes a nearly $1 million renovation project.


The Children’s Museum razes its Parry house facilities and begins construction on a new building, which is completed three years later.


With the help of a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Mt. Zion Baptist Church buys land around its building and begins constructing a complex that will include a baby clinic, a nursery and day-care center, and a nursing home under the name Mt. Zion Center, Inc. The complex, which is completed in stages over the next few years, results from the vision of Mt. Zion’s pastor, Rev. R. T. Andrews, to provide “cradle-to-grave care” for the community.


UNWA population is approximately 32,624: 10.2 percent white; 89.6 percent black. Nearly 3,000 residents have left the neighborhood since 1960, reflecting displacement from highway construction.

Pilgrim Baptist Church burns, and the church temporarily holds services in the 25th Street Baptist Church. Pilgrim rebuilds and dedicates its new building the following year.

Riverside Amusement Park closes.

Holy Angels Catholic School receives a grant from the Lilly Endowment to implement an “open-classroom” structure and a new curriculum that allows students learn at their own pace.


Mt. Zion Baptist Church opens Andrews Gardens, an apartment complex for seniors, at 3333 Boulevard. Two years later, the church dedicates Mt. Zion Apartments at 3655 Boulevard.

The archbishop of Indianapolis attempts to relocate Rev. Boniface Hardin of Holy Angels Catholic Church to a parish outside of the city but reconsiders in the wake of strong opposition from parishioners.  The aborted action came in response to complaints about Hardin’s outspoken style and high-profile protests on behalf of the black community.


United Northwest Area Association is formed to fight crime and poverty and to lobby for improved city services. As an umbrella organization, UNWA includes three historically distinct neighborhoods: Riverside to the south, United Northwest in the center, and Crown Hill to the north. Each has its own neighborhood organization.

Flanner House moves to 2110 N. Illinois Street.

Mt. Paran Baptist Church, displaced from its 12thStreet location by the construction of I-65, moves to a new building at 3431 Boulevard Place. The same year, Dr. C. Henry Bell, the church’s pastor since 1927, retires from full-time ministry and is named pastor emeritus.

The pastor of Riverside Methodist Church implements a youth program in an attempt to “fill the void left by the city administration’s failure to provide adequate recreation and other services in the area.” The church also serves as the home of a local neighborhood organization, Riverside Civic League.


The Rev. Boniface Hardin is appointed associate pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church, becoming the first black pastor in the parish.. Holy Angels is by this time a predominantly black parish, the third such parish in Indianapolis.  Father Hardin assumes a leadership role in the anti-highway movement.


Riverside United Methodist remodels its building under the direction of its first African American pastor.

Residents of northwestern neighborhoods in the path of the proposed interstate highway protest prices offered for properties. Community Service Council of Indianapolis urges additional aid for displaced families


UNWA population is approximately 39,544: 27.1 percent white; 72.7 percent black.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church begins meeting in its new building at 3500 Graceland Ave. The church, which costs more than half a million dollars, is described as “the most imposing edifice in Indiana” by the Indianapolis Recorder.

Proposed plan for interstate highways includes roads through northwestern neighborhoods. State officials begin purchase of homes, businesses, and churches in the highway right-of-way.


Mt. Paran Baptist Church announces a home nursing service for its membership. The service is staffed by fifty-six men and women trained by the Red Cross.

Northside New Era Baptist Church dedicates its newly completed building at 30th and Ethel Streets.

City announces plan to use federal highway funds to construct a highway system connecting to a proposed interstate road network. Local plans call for an outer belt encircling the city, as well as freeways connecting downtown Indianapolis.


An estimated 1 million people visit Riverside Amusement Park.


First Baptist Church moves from 980 Burdsall Parkway to Udell Street.  In 1979, the church builds a new building one street south, on the northeast corner of 28th and Annette streets.


UNWA population is approximately 38,386—66.7 percent white; 33.1 percent black


Indianapolis Public School 42 is named in honor of its principal for more than twenty years, the African American educator Elder W. Diggs.


An Indianapolis Times article describes Christ Temple Church as “the only interracial Protestant congregation in Indianapolis.” One estimate puts the membership at 60 percent black and 40 percent white.


The Children’s Museum purchases its first building, the Parry mansion at 3010 North Meridian Street.


Flanner House moves into new headquarters at 333 West 16th Street under the direction of Cleo Blackburn. Blackburn broadens the scope of Flanner House’s operations to include a wide range of programs—among them employment services, vocational training, health services, and a day nursery.


UNWA population is approximately 37,456 — 75.4 percent white; 24.6 percent black.


A stone memorial colonnade is erected in Riverside Park and dedicated to Thomas Taggart, mayor of Indianapolis from 1895-1901. Under Taggart’s leadership, the city purchased the land that would become Riverside Park.

Pilgrim Baptist Church is founded.


Indianapolis Public School 87, a school for “colored” children, opens on Indianapolis Avenue. It replaces a facility consisting of five portable buildings heated by stoves, with toilets and drinking fountains located outside.


Population of UNWA is approximately 36,195: 80.4 percent white; 19.6 percent black.


Riverside Methodist Church builds a building at 2440 N. Harding.


The Children’s Museum moves from Garfield Park to the Carey Mansion at 1150 North Meridian Street.


Nationally known urban planner and landscape architect George Edward Kessler presents plan for a city part along White River north of 16th Street, to be known as Riverside Park.


Following David Parry’s death, the family subdivides his Golden Hills estate and hires a landscape architect to plan the area, which becomes an affluent neighborhood of curving streets and large, architecturally diverse homes.


Indianapolis Public School 42 opens.

After the clubhouse at the Indianapolis Country Club burns, the membership splits to form two new organizations.  The Country Club of Indianapolis moves to the far-westside and Woodstock Country Club remains at the existing location.


St. Vincent Hospital relocates from South and Delaware streets to Fall Creek Parkway.


Garfield T. Haywood founds Christ Temple Church on West Michigan Street. The church moves several times before settling at 430 W. Fall Creek Parkway in 1923.


Holy Angels School is founded as the parish school of Holy Angels Catholic Church.


Mt. Paran Baptist Church is founded.


Riverside Methodist Episcopal Sunday School begins meeting in one side of a double on Roache Street. A year later, the church is officially organized and breaks ground for a building, which is completed and dedicated in 1906.


Riverside Amusement Park opens at 30th Street and White River with a “double eight toboggan railway” and several concession stands. The park owners soon adds various other attractions, including two large roller coasters. The 26-acre park has more than two dozen rides by mid-century.

Holy Angels Catholic parish is founded, and a building is built at the corner of 28th and Martin Luther King, Jr. streets. The church’s first full-time priest is appointed the following year.


Newly laid interurban (electric railway) lines in the area make it more accessible and help it blossom as a residential area.


Flanner House, a settlement house for African Americans, is founded in a cottage donated by Indianapolis mortician Frank Flanner.  In 1911, with help from the Women’s Board of Missions, Flanner House moves to larger facilities on North West Street and expands its services and programs.


Residents of North Indianapolis successfully appeal to be annexed into the city in order to take advantage of cheaper natural gas rates.


Indianapolis Country Club organizes and locates on southwest of Michigan Road and Maple Road (now 38thStreet).  Members develop a clubhouse, tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course at this site.


First Baptist Church is founded.


The Rev. T. R. Prentiss, founder of the church that later becomes Barnes United Methodist, begins conducting services in the homes of community members. In 1889, the church builds its first permanent meeting place with money and land donated by Albert Barnes


The Belt Line Railroad is completed. The railroad’s western terminus on the northwest side spurs further industrial development.


The Udell Ladder Works, the North Indianapolis Wagon Works, and the Henry Ocow Manufacturing Company locate in the neighborhood, emphasizing its desirability and growth as an industrial center. The industrial suburb of North Indianapolis is platted for the area


Golden Hill is platted on the northwest edge of present-day UNWA.  The area is not developed until businessman David Parry buys the property early in the 20th century and builds his personal estate on it.


Mt. Zion Baptist Church is founded nine miles southwest of Indianapolis. Three years later, the church moves to 11th and Lafayette streets.


Crown Hill is incorporated as a nonprofit, nondenominational cemetery located nearly three miles northwest of the Circle.  By 1864, a mule-drawn street railway has extended to the cemetery.  Many residents visit Crown Hill on weekends to enjoy the green spaces and landscaping.  Some settle near to the streetcar station in a village that becomes known as Mapleton.  By 1967, when the United Northwest Area organizes, Crown Hill includes 555 acres and is the nation’s third largest cemetery.


The Central Canal opens.  Disappointing as a transportation route, the canal succeeds in drawing industry and settlers to the western edges of Indianapolis.  For instance, Nathaniel West built a cotton mill near where the Central Canal crossed the Michigan Road.  This area eventually becomes known as Cottontown.