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Speedway Historic District

Speedway Historic District

Allison Plant One
Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and

Speedway Historic District is an important early example of a planned residential community for an industrial complex and an illustration of the trend toward suburbanization. Indianapolis Motor Speedway founders Carl Fisher, James Allison, Frank Wheeler, and Arthur Newby established the suburb of Speedway City in 1912, close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Both Fisher and Allison had industrial plants nearby; Fisher’s titanic Prest-O-Lite factory, which produced auto headlights and batteries, would need workers. The goal of the investors was to create a “horseless city” where residents would not only drive autos but be involved in furthering mechanized transportation. The district also is important because the Allison Engineering Company and its workers were significant for aircraft engine production. Speedway includes homes of workers, supervisors, merchants and their families; commercial buildings; and buildings where workers made auto or engine parts.

Bungalow in the Speedway Historic District

Bungalow in the Speedway Historic District
Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology

Main Street was the planned commercial center of the area. The east side of Main was the site of most of the original manufacturing buildings in Speedway. The founders named streets for automobile leaders or makes, such as Ford, Auburn, and Winton. Homes in Speedway are modest, vernacular, period revival houses typical of middle class suburbs in the U.S. from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. Simple Bungalows or American Four Square houses soon filled the streets of the original plat. Larger homes belonged to plant managers, salesmen for non-auto related firms, or those who owned businesses in Speedway.

Allison Plant One, 1200 Main Street, is the sole remaining manufacturing-related building. Though deeply interested in automotive development, Allison earned most recognition for his aircraft engines. This 1925 plant, which was acquired by General Motors after Allison died in 1928, played a role in the development of the Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engine in the 1930’s. With improvements, the V-1710, produced at the plant, was installed in three major U.S. fighters of World War II, the P-38, P-40, and P-39. The Allison Division also produced two new revolutionary jet engines in the 1940’s, the J-33 and the J-35, used in the F-84 “Thunderjet,” which served in the Korean War. The building now serves a private race car company.

Plan your visit
Speedway Historic District is located on the west side. The district is roughly bounded by 16th., Main, 10th Sts., and Winton Ave. Most buildings are private homes or businesses. Some businesses allow access. INDYGO bus line from downtown: #25 West 16th St., disembark at Georgetown Rd., or use #10 West 10th St. and disembark at Winton Ave.
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