JustIndy is a countermapping project to document perspectives and narratives often excluded from official maps. It is being developed by the Cultural Heritage Research Center to interrogate the histories of social difference across the urban landscape of Indianapolis.

With pilot-project funding from the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, scholars and community members are investigating the stories and material evidence of race and class along the Michigan Road-MLK-West Street corridor, an historic road running from downtown to the northwest suburbs of the city . The goal is to produce a publicly accessible website that reflects both academic and community expertise using multi-media sources (ex. participatory mapping, oral history, archival documents, historic photographs and film, contemporary photography, and close readings of the landscape).

The history of the Michigan Road corridor as a microcosm of American history includes stories such as the early settlement of
Native Americans along the White River, the establishment of toll roads, the development of rural cemeteries and country
houses, interstate highways displacing stable communities of color (Try the photo slider above), a segregated amusement park and swimming pools, the
development of public housing, and the shifting racial boundaries of residential areas through red lining and public policy.
Equally important, this Michigan Road corridor continues to see stark economic disparities that are the legacy of this history,
even as it faces economic development initiatives, immigration, environmental contamination, gentrification, and urban planning.

Results from the pilot project will inform an expanded site to include explorations of social difference across  Indianapolis in time for its bicentennial in 2020. The goal is to deepen understandings of the origins of inequalities and spur conversations about the conditions and structures that perpetuate inequalities as well as the resilience of people to resist oppression and to improve their communities. The aspiration of the project is that by reckoning with this history and its root causes, we can move forward to create a more just city.

1962 aerial photograph of predominantly African-American neighborhoods on Indianapolis’ near northside.
1972 Aerial photograph of I65 bisecting Riverside neighborhoods
1972 aerial photograph of the newly constructed I65 highway bisecting the predominantly African-American neighborhoods on Indianapolis’ near northside.


Thinking critically about cultural heritage