Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The "Contest" for Renaming Georgia Street is a Complete Sham

The Powers-That-Be in this town have decided to hold a contest on what Georgia Street should be called after it's federally funded makeover is finished. Of course, these people see a problem when it isn't broken. A commenter over at Paul Ogden's post on the subject saw an interview with an Indianapolis Downtown Inc official where the official claimed that since there's nothing southern about Georgia Street, it's a bad name. Great, I can't wait until Tamara Zahn at IDI starts trying to change the cultural district's name that is Massachusetts Avenue.

The two names that have been publicly floated are "Champions Way", in reference to the Superbowl being hosted here in 2012, and "Hospitality Boulevard", which I guess is a contrived way of fitting the phrase Hoosier Hospitality into a street name.

Both of those names sound absolutely horrible, and if I was a betting man, I'd bet that they came from out-of-town consultants who don't live in Indianapolis.

Then there's the other side of changing street names: Businesses have to change business cards and basically communicate to anyone who sends them mail about the new address.

I actually like what my friend Jon Easter posted on Facebook, naming it after Mayor Bill Hudnut. Hudnut had a vision for Indianapolis and it's due to his administration that this city has grown to what it is today. I won't pretend I'm smart enough to decide if "Hudnut Street" or "Hudnut Place" or whatever rolls off the tongue the most, but I think if chosen well, a new street name would be worth the cost.

But as Aaron Renn over at the Urbanophile points out, it's very, very easy to botch a street re-naming. And it looks like it's going to happen.

Make no mistake about it. IDI and their partners in crime have a name already in mind, and that's the name that will be chosen. This is more or less a publicity stunt for some good PR. And hey, it'll probably work. Still doesn't change that, years after the Superbowl is gone and that miniscule amount of tax revenue is long since spent, we'll have a street named by PR consultants that doesn't fit in with the rest of the streets in the city.


  1. i generally like what you have to say but as someone who has spent alot of time in this city i would tell you it is not a good idea to name things after our local politicians, especially flawed politicians like Hudnut. I would rather see things named after an educator or police or firefighter who gave their life in the service of this community instead of some narcissitic, egotistical, selfish, poor example of a father and husband politician. I will step down from my soapbox now and commend u on a fine blog.

  2. Guy was elected for 4 terms of Mayor of Indianapolis, not Father or Husband of Indianapolis. I didn't agree with Hudnut on everything I've read about (I'm a bit too young to vividgly remember his time in office), but his vision was right at the time for Indianapolis, and without it we could've stayed stuck in neutral for several years.

    I might agree with you if the politician was still active in Indiana politics, but Hudnut lives in Chevy Chase (yes, that's the actual name), Maryland, just outside of DC and pretty much moved out of Indiana soon after his 4th term ended.

    And the soapbox is always open. It's why I don't pre-screen comments. I want to hear back from my readers, either through comments, email, Facebook, whatever.

  3. All we need is another municipal asset to be named after a person, especially a politician.

    Has everyone forgotten the naming fiasco for our new billion dollar airport terminal?

    They gave away the naming rights for free and put some obscure veterans name on it, solely because Ballard wanted it being a military guy himself.

    They actually wanted to replace not only the new terminal and roads names to this vets name, but also replace "Indianapolis International Airpor"t with "Colonel Harvey Weir Cook International Airport"!

  4. Dear Anonymous -

    I know this is several months after your original post so I don't know if you will see it. But, you evidently do not know your history of Indianapolis or WW I very well.

    That "obscure" veteran that you mention was actually the namesake for the entire airport, not just the terminal and road from around 1945 to 1976. Yes - Indianapolis International was called "Weir Cook". This is not unlike "O'Hare" in Chicago, and "LaGuardia" in New York - all named after people.

    Col. Cook was Indiana's first Ace with seven kills. He flew in planes made out of canvas and wood with no brakes, and no parachutes - at a time when the life expectancy of a pilot was about 30%. After the war, He was asked to pick the location for the airport, laid out the original design, implemented several innovative safety features and was its first manager. He was a member of the Indiana Air National Guard, and also taught many private citizens to fly. When WW II broke out, he petitioned to be recommissioned. He became commander of a fighter group in the South Pacific, and was killed while going on a mission.

    The airport, which had been such a fixture in his life, was named in his honor. That is until 1976, when some idiots who didn't like the name, stripped it from the airport and gave it the current "Indianapolis International."

    I guarantee if his name had not been removed from the airport in the first place, you probably wouldn't have made the "obscure" comment. People were outraged in 1976, when his name was removed, but it fell on deaf ears. The Airport Authority has control over that. It wasn't until a large grassroots effort, put pressure on that group was the new terminal and the road to the terminal named after Cook.

    You see he really isn't obscure. He has been more abused. You really need to read your history.

    1. You are 100% correct Brigette. Weir Cook name was dropped for what we now call political correctness, at a time when anything connected with the American Military was being disparaged by the nuvo-leftists after Viet Nam. City politicians, who have over-sight of the Airport Authority Board were anxious to have our "Municipal Airport" status upgraded to a "International Airport". To realize this end, an "International Arrivals Building" was hurriedly constructed, to satisfy FAA & INS + Customs Regulations. All this was rushed through for the Bicentennial Year celebration. At this same time airline deregulation was beginning, and many airlines were making many airports very rich, buy recreating them as passenger 'Hubs'. So for all of these 'reasons' of political expedience, Col Cook was once again 'shot down', this time by the various self interests of the politics-first people in the very city he helped 'get off the ground'.
      ~ Fortunately Col. Harvey Weir Cook was not forgotten by a cadre of the real people who remember his contributions to America and his adopted home of Indianapolis. We all have them to thank for our chance to remember our real aviation heroes.


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