Sinking into Mediocrity

Apparently, those of us who live in Indianapolis only focus on the city–and what we’d like to see it become–every four years, during mayoral elections. If then.

Whatever one might think about the “visions” displayed by the current candidates, it occurs to me that those of us who call Indianapolis home need to develop some vision of our own.

What brought this to mind was a recent magazine article in “Travel and Leisure.” It was one of those “our readers vote” features–which five cities did readers choose in several categories, including best food, friendliest, cleanest, etc.

We didn’t make any¬†of the lists.

This wasn’t scientific. I get that. But what exercises of this sort do reveal is which cities the respondents find memorable–which cities come to mind when asked such questions. Indianapolis obviously didn’t come to mind for most people. (We used to be widely cited for our friendliness and cleanliness, at least, if not for our food or architecture or arts scene. Now we don’t even make the list of clean cities.)

I realize that the ideal city for one person is very different from the ideal of another. But over the past decade or so, we seem to have settled for mediocre. Or worse. We “can’t afford” decent public transportation. We “can’t afford” to sweep streets in the mile square daily, as we used to do. We “can’t afford” first-rate schools. We “can’t afford” to maintain our parks. We can’t even afford to hire enough police officers. The only things we seem able to afford are sports venues.

Sorry, sports fans, but a couple of arenas simply cannot and will not create a great city. Or even a memorable one.


  1. Thanks Prof K
    We often hear nonsense about Indy as a First Class City. I find that kind of silly.
    On a similar note: Last month I was driving home (Glendale Area) from downtown on Fall Creek Parkway. As I neared 30th Street, the ONLY thing I was aware of was the overpowering stench of human waste. I have lived here since the Ford administration and it still STINKS downtown. The sewer stench still comes back and makes you feel that you MUST escape Indy as fast as possible. Lovely image for our residents and guests. We MAY have first class facilities for the Jock Strap crowd, but for the rest of us, not so much.

  2. AMEN! I rant about this often, and I know all the football fans out there think I’m crazy, but I don’t care. There ARE people in this city who don’t give a flying flip about the Super Bowl…I know the whole justification is “look how much revenue it’s going to bring to the city,” yada, yada. But it’s ONE game! I don’t buy into the supposed benefits that one big game is going to bring to our city, or how that one big game justifies so many millions of dollars spent. I’d much rather see that money poured into something else that will have longer-lasting impacts on our local society, and do some good for someone. Ugh.

  3. remember when Indianapolis could boast it was an “All-American City” (whatever that means) …

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