The Butler-Tarkington area lies within the northwest quadrant of the old city limits of Indianapolis, bordered by 38th and Meridian Streets and the old Central Canal. It draws its name from Butler University, which relocated to the district in 1928, and Booth Tarkington, a well known Hoosier author who – at one time – maintained his home in the area on Meridian Street.

The area developed as the direct result of the establishment of electric street railways (”trolleys”) in Indianapolis. Appearing on the scene in the late 1880’s, trolleys provided city residents with a fast efficient means of mass transit that made possible residential development in areas farther removed from the city’s core. By 1898, some 350 streetcars were in business, providing rapid access to all parts of the growing city.

The city’s transit utility, the Indianapolis Street Railway Company, sought to boost its ridership through a series of promotional schemes. One such scheme was the development of a recreational park at the suburban terminus of one of the company’s routes. To this end the company purchased 200 acres of wooded hills and ravines along the Central Canal north of Crown Hill Cemetery and developed the area into a park. Fairview Park (as it was called) featured a restaurant, bowling alley, refreshment stand, merry-go-round and picnic areas. Outdoor plays were staged on the banks of the canal, and band concerts became something of a Sunday tradition.

The Butler-Tarkington neighborhood has many benefits. The ebb and flow of the college life at the University brings tons of life to the area. Prospective students and proud parents celebrate, bringing life and exuberance. Students are generally respectful and courteous, the school emphasizes community relations and Butler Police contain actives to the campus area.

The Butler Sports Complex is just a short walk away from many of the homes in this area. (Hoosiers: ) Watch the Bulldogs play, or watch soccer & football in the Butler Bowl, or baseball at their diamond. The Fieldhouse facility can be used for walking when the weather is cold. You may even see some of their stars, & they welcome people from the neighborhood. A rare privilege to have top level college sports within strolling distance, & what has been called “Indiana’s basketball cathedral.”

Just a 10 min walk in the other direction takes you to the Butler Arts center. Enjoy an eclectic mix of top quality performances & educational programs just a stroll away, at Clowes Hall, Schrott Centrer for the Arts, Edison-Duckwall Recital Hall, & Lilly Hall Studio Theatre. Book now for “ZZ Top”, & “Finding Neverland”, soon to begin production at Clowes, & anything else that takes your fancy. So nice to just stroll to the theater, enjoy the performance, & stroll home, without the hassles of driving somewhere, parking, etc.

A favorite walk in the area is through the campus, down to the canal. The choice then is to enjoy the flowers & park like setting of Holcomb Gardens, or continue in either direction along the canal path, to maybe 56th Ave shops, or further to Broad Ripple. The canal is always interesting, with beaver, herons, turtles & other wildlife throughout the seasons.

The addition of restaurants near to Clowes Hall, puts a sports bar (Scotties Brew Pub), family restaurant (Metro Diner), & take out (Pita Pit), just a stroll away. Many other great eating places can be found in Broadripple, or downtown which is just 15 min away. 

It is a comfort to know that Butler Police force patrols the streets, and are available to us whenever we need them with their precinct just a couple of blocks away. Enjoy the blanket of protection that Butler provides to its campus. They check for inappropriate parking of students on the streets, and can give out tickets, so be careful at stop signs or parking on the wrong side of the street!

The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is less than 2 miles away, housing surprising paintings by the great masters, wonderful exhibitions, & educational programs. Enjoy their formal gardens, as well as their “100 acre Park”, one of the largest museum art parks in the country.

Explore the neighborhood….there is much to discover!


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