Emerson Heights is a residential neighborhood of Arts and Crafts era homes with commercial shops on the edges. It was designed as a transit oriented, walkable community before the automobile era. Streetcar lines along Michigan, Emerson and 10th street provided an easy commute into the city.
The boundaries of Emerson Heights are:
- North: E. 10th Street
- South: E. Michigan Street
- West: N. Linwood Avenue
- East: N. Emerson Avenue
Emerson Heights was developed in the 1910's as a streetcar suburb.
A Planned Community
Emerson Heights was a planned subdivision featuring macadam streets, sewers, utilities, sidewalks and fire hydrants - all things we take for granted today.
Born in the Railroad Era
The neighborhood was developed during the railroad era in Indianapolis. The railroad enabled the city to grow and broadened the middle-economic class, but the economic activity also helped to push residents out of the center of town because of the dirt, coal soot, and noise.
The availability of electric streetcar lines on the edges of our neighborhood enabled the flight from the center-city by families of this broadening middle socioeconomic class. Original property owners in Emerson Heights were managers, skilled tradesmen and administrators.
Influenced by the City Beautiful movement
In addition to the streetcar lines, the other major influence on the design of our neighborhood was the City Beautiful movement. City Beautiful was an urban planning movement prevalent around the turn of the last century - a response to what had become crowded, dirty and disorderly cities. It was reform minded with the goal of not only introducing order, improving sanitation and such, but also using urban design to inspire the inhabitants to moral and civic virtue.
The influence of the City Beautiful movement can be seen in our neighborhood in the esplanades on Bancroft, Riley and Dequincy as well as the terrace up from the street and the uniform setbacks of the homes from the street. The brick entrance columns on Emerson and Michigan, landscaping, orderliness of the homes as well as the modern streets, sidewalks and utilities were all part of an intentional design of our neighborhood that reflects the ideals of that urban planning movement.
In addition to the design of our neighborhood, City Beautiful influences can be seen in the Kessler park and boulevard system which includes the Pleasant Run Parkway and Ellenberger Park which border our neighborhood. The Kessler park and boulevard system is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The railroad, streetcar lines and the City Beautiful movement provide some of the basic influences on the design of our neighborhood. Emerson Heights today remains an excellent example of a streetcar-era planned community in Indianapolis.
Emerson Heights was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.