A cool old neighborhood, and then a surprise

A few times a month, I force myself away of my favorite old trails and neighborhoods and find a new place to run.

I call it getting the hell out of my comfort zone.

Today was one of those days. At lunchtime, I changed into my running clothes and walked out the back door of my office, wondering which way to go.

On a whim, began running east on Michigan Street, one of downtown’s busiest roads.

The first 10 minutes were dreary: warehouses, overpasses, bus yards and railroad tracks.

But after a mile or so, I hit a historic neighborhood I had never seen before. It was very cool and very scenic, filled with century-old houses, mostly Victorian and Colonial, on wide boulevards, with grassy medians. 

I felt like I was running through some old movie lot, or a rich old part of the Hudson Valley. I passed house after house, each with grand features and beautiful gardens.

At each intersection, there was a grand fountain. Along the grassy medians, there were statuary and urns.

Most of the houses seemed to be good shape — freshly painted, gleaming, standing proud. But a few were neglected or had been converted into apartments.

Overall, though, I had a feeling the neighborhood was doing OK.

I stopped at one house to pick up a “For Sale” notice. It was five glossy sheets of paper, with more than 50 color photos of of the four-bedroom mansion, showing beveled windows, stained glass, a carved-oak staircase, a butler pantry, a grand foyer, etc.

The house was listed for $529,000.

I turned the flyer over and saw a long write-up on the neighborhood, which was called Woodruff Place. It was laid out in 1876, has gone through several ups and downs over the years. These days, it’s a tight-knit community, listed on the National Register.

That gave me all I needed to know. I had stumbled into a cool area. It was time to see some more.

I kept running for a few blocks, marveling at all the gardens and the big, old houses. At every intersection, I would see another huge fountain.

Finally, I had run up and down every street of this neighborhood, and found myself on a main road. I crossed the road, hoping to discover another cool, old neighborhood on the other side.

But I was in for a surprise. 

Instead of Victorian houses, this is what I saw:

What the hell? What is this place?

Curious, I ran around the entire perimeter, three or four blocks wide, until I saw a sign: “Re-Entry Educational Facility, Indiana Department of Corrections.”

So here was a state prison, just a stone’s throw from one of the grandest old neighborhoods in town.

That gave me something to think about on my run back to work.

When I got back to my desk, I asked a co-worker: “Did you know there’s a state prison a couple miles from here, andit’s right down the street from from this really cool old neighborhood called Woodruff Place?”

She said: “Sounds like a mixed-use neighborhood to me.”

“Yeah,” I said, “About as mixed as it gets.”

“Well, you have to do something to keep the property rates affordable,” she laughed. “Think how much those houses would cost without a prison in the neighborhood.”

The things you see when you get out of your comfort zone.


One Response to “A cool old neighborhood, and then a surprise”

  1. wow If I lived there I would have a rotweiler and pack a 6 shooter! beautiful homes!!

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