Book Review: Indianapolis Then and Now
When I first moved to Indy a few years ago I wanted to get a book about the history of the city to help me get to know my new home town. I wanted to scratch under the surface and learn more about how the city became what it is today.
I was more than a little disappointed when I started my search for an Indianapolis history book; it seemed that every one I found was focused on the history of the Indianapolis 500. It appeared the city didn't have a history separate from the famous race.
Since that time I have kept my ear to the ground looking for a non-race-centric history book of Indy. A few books have popped up, most in the photo-history genre (Lost Indianapolis is a great example - http://www.lostindiana.net/), but nothing that really had meat on the pages.
While holiday shopping a few weeks ago, I found a book that was close to what I was looking for - Indianapolis Then and Now.
Although the book is still firmly planted in the photo-history genre, it does a great job of taking historical photographs and placing them next to present-day photos of the same location. At the same time, each photo couplet page offers up enough descriptive text to make the pics more compelling.
As you can imagine, the city has changed quite a bit over the years. Many pictures show the same building over a 100 (or more) year span. The only differences are the cars on the street. Other changes are more dramatic, A picture of the downtown Canal in the 1950's looks like an ugly dried up creek. A stark contrast to the beautification that has taken hold in the same area now.
Unfortunately, not all of the changes have been positive. There are also some examples of historical landmarks that have been lost forever; The Clifford Place mansion replaced by a Kroger, the removal of the giant milk bottles from the entrance of Polk's Best Jersey Milk Depot, and the Valence Block building replaced by the Zipper Building.
Amazon has the book listed for under $20 bucks. I got it at Cosco for a little over $10. This is a must have for any Indianapolis history buff. Thunder Bay Press, the publisher of this book, has a number of other Then and Now books. If you are a transplant, you may want to pick your former city's book. You are guaranteed to learn something.
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