Wanna keep Georgia Street? Time may be running out

September 12, 2011
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Keep Georgia StreetIf you disagree with the push by Indianapolis Downtown Inc. and city officials to rename Georgia Street, time is running out to respond to a survey and make your voice heard. The idea is to change the name of a three-block portion of the street as part of a $12 million streetscape overhaul, creating a fresh identity for the stretch. But Georgia Street is right there on the 1821 Alexander Ralston “Plat of the Town of Indianapolis," and the street is home to the city’s oldest hotel, the Omni Severin (98 years), and its oldest Catholic church, St. John the Evangelist (140 years).

Joan Hostetler expressed her opposition to the change in a letter to city officials and also created a Facebook page. Here's part of her case against the change:

The name Georgia Street is authentic to our city and dates back 190 years. Almost all of the other streets in the mile square are named after states and I feel this should be respected (please don't try to change Illinois, Washington, Delaware, and Maryland Streets, etc. either).

It is relevant because Ralston and others had a wonderful vision in the wilderness and swamp and created a design that has (mostly) held up through time. Why not respect their plan? No one is confusing this street with the state of Georgia. This argument seems to dumb-down the general public.

When Fountain Square residents step onto Virginia Avenue they know they are not in Virginia. When people are on Indiana Avenue in Chicago I can't imagine that there is confusion about being in Indiana. In my opinion, if your team truly makes this an attractive and compelling destination (which I believe you will), people will go there regardless of the name.

Elsewhere, influential urban design blogger Aaron Renn also wants to keep Georgia Street.

Oddly, the backers of this don’t actually have a name in mind. They just want to chuck the existing one and are doing a design by committee on a new name. The one suggestion I’ve seen floated publicly, Hospitality Way, it utterly cringe-worthy and shows that while improving on a solid, historic name like Georgia St. would be difficult, picking something far worse will be depressingly easy.

It would be a shame to have such a fantastic multi-million dollar public space project marred by having the city become a laughingstock to the nation by picking a goofy name.

IBJ also has weighed in, publishing an editorial (subscription required) in support of keeping Georgia Street. Here's a taste:

Georgia Street is 190 years old this year—almost as old as Indianapolis itself. The city’s branding experts should think long and hard before throwing away so much history, which is what they’re considering doing.

We understand the temptation to come up with a catchy name for this new city asset, but we’re not convinced it’s a good idea. In their book “Authenticity—What Consumers Really Want,” authors James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II advise businesses to steer clear of that which is contrived. “People increasingly see the world in terms of real and fake, and want to buy something real from someone genuine.”

The name Georgia Street is authentic. Indianapolis should celebrate its history, not run from it. Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is uniquely Chicago. Georgia Street, with its new assets, can—if given time—become positively and uniquely connected with Indianapolis.

The last day for the online survey is Tuesday (Sept. 13), and the Metropolitan Development Commission is scheduled to consider the change Oct. 19. An earlier blog post is here.

  • Thx
    Thx for this update Cory.
    • Done.
      Just took the "survey." In response to the question, "What would you rename Georgia Street?" I answered, "Georgia Street."

      Thanks for the update. Let's hope the city does the good and true thing.
      • Keep the name
        I just took the survey too, I said keep it Georgia Street or name it Georgia Street Terrace. I could live with something like that. It will be an awesome space, I just hope they don't take a play out of the City Way playbook...
      • From what I understand, the next step is the adjoining property owners weigh in on their feelings. Then is goes to Council for review. The final decision though rests with the Mayor. So we need to let Mr. Ballard know the feelings of the city.
      • This is the best idea you have?
        I never thought this street name change idea would get this far.

        Introducing a survey appears to be the next step in pushing this through with a name they have already chosen.

        It is remarkable how many per-concluded stupid ideas that are being pushed through the past couple years.

        (ACS Parking deal, North/South, etc..)

      • Wholesale Street
        The major problem I have with this idea is they are trying to brand something that they have already branded.

        Indianapolis Downtown Inc. and Ball State in 2003 branded six unique Cultural Districts within Indianapolis as: Broad Ripple Village, The Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave and Wholesale District.

        Georgia Street is in the center of the Wholesale Cultural District.

        Why not promote the branding you already spent endless hours studying, debating, and resources promoting instead of trying to recreate the wheel?

        If you MUST permanently change the street name, I would suggest "Wholesale Street" to reflect the center of the current cultural district, the way Broad Ripple Avenue is the physical center of the Broad Ripple Village cultural district.

        Permanently changing branding for single event like the Superbowl is wrong on many levels. Especially if the new name has no basis with the cities "culture" it is intended to reflect.
      • Keep Georgia Street
        Georgia Street was my answer to the survey.
      • Compromise
        It might be good to come up with a name that has both the original name with an additional descriptive word. My suggestion would be the "Georgia Street Promenade". The new landscaped pedestrian walkway is a promenade by definition "A suitable place for walking for pleasure, as a mall"
      • Georgia Street Compromise
        If the city is bent on changing the name of Georgia Street why not just incorporate the pedestrian walkway into the name and call it Georgia Pedway. This would keep the history of Georgia Street but also update it to include the walkway.
      • IHPC?
        Does anyone know why the IHPC apparently does not have any jurisdiction over this issue? Georgia Street is within the Wholesale Historic District and other types of infrastructure improvements require Certificates of Appropriateness--(e.g. lighting, sidewalks, curbs). Their guidelines are written more with physical alterations in mind, but the name "Georgia Street" is used throughout that district's preservation plan and at the very least street signage will have to be changed.
      • Champions Way
        I heard from someone who works for the city that the mayor really likes the name Champions Way because it connects (loosely) Lucas Oil and Conseco, and because of the connotations to the Super Bowl. This would be an absolute travesty to give one of the original 190-year-old streets in the city such a horrid name. Ms. Watson at Indy Downtown Inc. has nothing but hollow arguments for changing the name. I think it's clear the city is NOT behind a name change for a single event, so here's hoping the mayor will listen and keep our city's history intact. That said, I do look forward to experiencing the new streetscape.
      • No Compromise
        I too answered Georgia Street, like most above did. A third tag name behind Georgia St. could work, but the questions remains why? Think about it, when we travel to other locations we go there to enjoy the 'local' color and 'local' environments, not to see another rendition or copy of New York or San Antonio (except Vegas of course). We are the Circle City and Georgia St. is part of us, we do not need to keep trying to be something else!
      • What Makes Indy Unique?
        Here are some examples of other cities cultural/entertainment districts

        Austin Cultural Districts:

        Sixth Street,Red River,Warehouse Districts, the East Side to South Lamar,


        South Street in the Headhouse District of Philadelphia


        Church Street in Orlando

      • Why not Superbowl Way???
        Is there no end to the ridiculous ideas being proposed due to pending Super Bowl? Apparently there is nothing else pressing in this city.
      • Damned Stupid Idea
        Speaking of foolish bureaucracy that does nothing more than waste the people's time and money. Either find Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. something important to do, or dissolve the corporation.

        It's Georgia Street!
      • Keep Georgia Street
        I submitted four suggestions: "Wish I Were Georgia" Street, "Keep Georgia" Street, "Don't Mess With Georgia" Street, and "I Miss Georgia" Street
      • Tie-In to Georgia
        I take issue with renaming streets after people who are not widely known and in many cases still living. Do we really know yet what their legacies will be? Have you come upon a renamed street and said "Whozat?"

        However, there is one Indiana legend with a tie to Georgia - Hoagy Carmichael, composer of "Georgia on My Mind." Besides swapping out Street for Promenade, etc., Hoagy Carmichael Way is the only other name that makes sense to me. Buildings and their purposes come and go, but Hoagy's legacy will live on.
      • Seriously?
        I, too, am surprised this idea went this far. I am rolling my eyes at lame ideas like "Hospitality Way" or "Champions Way." Jeez, Indy, do you really want to show the world we have no respect for history, that we embrace the generic, that we'll put pretty much everything up on the block at a whim? Why don't we sell the monument next? I'm thinking something like the "Coors Lite Soldiers and Sailors Monument" would really get people in the mood to party for the Super Bowl, ya' know? Put a big, blinking sign right on the top?
      • Georgia Street
        I see no reason to change the name. If they feel like they MUST change the name in honor of the improvements being made, then I vote for Georgia Street Boulevard -- or, as mentioned above Georgia Street Pedway, Terrace, etc., etc., etc.
      • Compromise X2
        I echo the "Georgia Street Promenade" suggestion...if the city "deciders" need a new-ish name then tack on something that reflects the original name but adds something new to it...if not original or compromise, then none at all. Keep Georgia Street!
        • Seriously????
          How Uber Stupid! I can just see telling an out of town visitor.."yeah you take a left on hospitality way (or champions way) and look for...
          Do we need to prostitute everything for the super bowl? I like the earlier comment...and think we should go the next step and pull a "NASCAR" on the entire city. Put corporate emblems on everything. Take victory off and replace it with a beer tap on top of the Coors light sailors monument. Geico--Federal Building...Bud Light Indiana State Museum, etc. Leave it Georgia Street.
        • Business owners along Georgia Street
          Has anyone asked business owners along Georgia Street what they think about this issue? I doubt any of those businesses want to pay to have their business system (letterhead, business cards, etc.) changed when the street has a new name. Is IDI going to subsidize those costs?
        • A Little Respect for Tradition
          Leave it Georgia Street. Please.
        • For One Day?
          Really, for one day? I'd think there would be so many other things to do to get ready for the ONE day. What is this really all about?? I don't get it!
        • Georgia
          On My Mind street? Georgia Brown Street? The priest at St. John's suggested "St. John's Way". Simon BLVD might be appropriate...
        • Enuf Disneyland
          Downtown Indy already looks and feels too much like Disneyland. Stop with the cutsie renaming stuff.
          Although I DO favor calling I-465 "The Hoop". Instead of "The Loop" or "The Beltway", as other cities have. "The Hoop" is in honor of Indiana's basketball heritage.
        • Georgia Street Rename
          Convention Row
        • Compromise
          Keep the 19th-century name of Georgia Street and add a descriptive word or two that further describes its 21st-century function. It could be something like Georgia Street Commons, Georgia Street Plaza, Georgia Street Promenade, Georgia Street Marketplace, or Georgia Street Convention.
        • don't change a thing
          Don't add anything. Don't insert anything. Don't embellish anything. Leave it "Georgia Street."
        • I Like It
          I like keeping Georgia Street intact but I also like adding some kind of moniker to modernize it. How about something like The Boardwalk at Geogria Street?
        • Kid Simple
          The Mayor is a huge sports fan, and these Indianapolis Downtown Inc. people are so focused upon Superbowl planning, I suspect they have already decided to change the street name to some hokey sports themed name ignoring any Wholesale cultural district connections completely.

          They just see our city as nothing more than the Colts or Pacers.

          Sad to think they are such simpletons to push this nonsense through.

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