“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Irvington in Indianapolis in Marion County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Historic National Road

National Road in Marion County

— Opening Up the West —

Historic National Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, June 1, 2021
1. Historic National Road Marker
Side A
National Road in Marion County
Workers built the National Road through this area in the 1830s, nearly four decades before Irvington’s founding. A constant stream of travelers on the road drew business to the area. The first commercial building was an inn built by John Wilson at the corner of the National Road, locally known as Washington St., and Butler Ave. The inn was in operation until the late 1880s.

Irvington’s Founding
In 1870, former Centerville, Indiana residents Jacob B. Julian and Sylvester Johnson established the town of Irvington. The new suburb was about five miles from downtown Indianapolis. While Irvington was known for its curving streets, Washington St. remained straight, albeit at a slight angle. By the time Irvington was founded, railroads and waterways had surpassed roads as means of more efficient modes of travel, and the wagon trains of the pioneer era no longer trod the National Road.

Multi-Modal Transportation
In 1888,Citizens Street Railway extended its East Washington line to Irvington, making the street a major transportation route once again. From this spot in
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1900 travelers had three rail options, including the nearby Pennsylvania Railroad, which has been redeveloped into Pennsy Trail for bicycling and hiking. The rails below this marker are remnants of the Washington St. trolley line.

Traveling the Road in the Automobile Era
The advent of the automobile brought more changes, and the National Road, now designated US 40, brought interstate travelers to Irvington once again. Local merchants operated over a dozen gas and car repair stations from the 1930s to 1990s. Diners and drug stores offered conveniences for travelers since Irvington was the “last stop” before leaving Indianapolis to the east. With the opening of I-70 in the 1960s, Irvington’s auto related businesses again began to decline.

Shipping patterns changed in the 1970s and 1980s and the commercial district in Irvington suffered along with many other neighborhoods. A few developers brought newer “suburban” style buildings to Washington St,, replacing those from the early 20th Century.

Downtown Irvington
The original commercial corner in Irvington was where Audubon Rd. crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad. By 1910, merchants had transformed Irvington’s stretch of the National Road into a thriving commercial center. It would later become the primary retail area for neighborhood residents with prosperous shops and services.

Historic National Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, June 1, 2021
2. Historic National Road Marker
Opening Up the West
In 1806 construction of the National Road was approved by the US Congress to open the western interior of a young nation to commerce and settlement. It was America’s first federally funded interstate highway, extending from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling, WV (formerly Virginia) on the Ohio River. The road was so important that Congress authorized its extension into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in 1824 to link the capitals of the new states. The road reached Indiana in 1827.

As faster and more reliable transportation options became available with the expansion of the nation’s rail and canal networks road traffic decreased. Like many others, the National Road fell into a state of disrepair.

It was the popularity of the automobile, and the need for good roads, that revived the National Road. It became one of the first routes designated under the new federal highway numbering system in 1916- US Route 40, a transcontinental highway from Atlantic City, Nj to San Francisco, CA. In the 1960s US 40 in Indiana was bypassed by Interstate 70.

The Modern Road
The National Road has played a significant role in the development of the United States. To honor this distinction, in 2002 the US Secretary of Transportation designated the Historic National Road from Maryland to Illinois an All-American Road. Indiana is actively working
Historic National Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, June 1, 2021
3. Historic National Road Marker
to preserve its segment of the road, structures, and landscapes along the historic corridor. Today the road continues to beckon travelers like you as it has for more than 200 years.

The Modern Conestoga Wagon
The H&C Studebaker blacksmith shop became the Studebaker Manufacturing Company in 1868. South Bend, Indiana- based Studebaker would eventually become the largest wagon manufacturer in the world. Studebaker introduced an electric car in 1902 and a gasoline powered car in 1904, becoming the only manufacturer to successfully make the transition from horse-drawn to gasoline- powered vehicles.

Where Service Never Stops
The modern National Road, US 40 provided essential services to travelers around the clock.
Erected 2020 by The Irvington Development Organization Department of Transportaion, United Staes of America, City of Indianapolis, Indiana National Road Association, Irvington istorical Society, The Irvington Garden Club.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Roads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the The Historic National Road series list.
Location. 39° 46.25′ N, 86° 4.321′ W. Marker is in Indianapolis, Indiana, in Marion County. It is in Irvington. Marker is
Historic National Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, June 1, 2021
4. Historic National Road Marker
the marker, set in original brick roadway, with trolley tracks
at the intersection of Old National Road (U.S. 40) and North Layman Ave., on the right when traveling west on Old National Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5606 East Washington, Indianapolis IN 46219, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Marion County Girl Scouts (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grace Julian Clarke (approx. 0.2 miles away); Washington Irving (approx. 0.3 miles away); Sigma Gamma Rho (approx. 0.4 miles away); Brown’s Corner (approx. 0.6 miles away); William Forsyth (approx. 0.6 miles away); Kile Oak (approx. 0.7 miles away); Woodruff Place (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Indianapolis.
Additional keywords. Old National Road
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2023. It was originally submitted on June 5, 2021, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. This page has been viewed 158 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 5, 2021, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 28, 2023