The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

November 24, 2012

COLUMN: Hometowns are not as they're remembered

ANDERSON, Ind. — If someone were to return to Anderson today after living elsewhere for a few decades, they would be hard-pressed to figure out where they were going.

It’s that way most places, of course. The last time I was in my boyhood hometown of Mankato, Minn., I hardly recognized the place. Most of the Minnesota State University (formerly Mankato State Teachers College) campus had moved. A new thoroughfare had replaced the main drag, and U.S. 169 had been widened and rerouted over one of two new bridges that had replaced the only bridge that used to cross the Minnesota River.

So it is with Anderson. You don’t come downtown on Indiana 9 anymore. It is routed down Scatterfield Road, once known as “the bypass.” And old Indiana 67 is now 53rd Street, 67 routed along the I-69 corridor created in the 1960s.

Cruising through downtown isn’t the same either. South on Meridian, north on Main? No more. Main is one way south, and Meridian isn’t even a thoroughfare anymore. Central, Jackson and Brown-Delaware carry one-way traffic through the city’s core. Brown-Delaware? That used to be two separate streets, Delaware Street and Brown Street, until some links were connected to add another traffic-mover through the business district, which of course is no longer the shopping district either.

Oh, and there was the old Brown Street tunnel. It never was on Brown Street, of course, though you angled southwest off Brown onto Marine Drive to get to Meadowbrook. The viaduct is still there, but it is now one way at a time controlled by traffic signals. Most traffic to Meadowbrook goes on either Main Street or the newer underpass on Madison Avenue.

And traffic heading east went through another tunnel under the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Ninth Street near the Tunnel Bar, crossing White River on a two-lane bridge ending in Park Place at Eighth Street. An alternative was the 10th Street bridge, an iron span a couple blocks south.

The four-lane Eisenhower Bridge has long since replaced the old Ninth Street bridge, and the 10th Street bridge has been completely torn down except for the supports still sticking up. But there is a new way to get downtown: the Truman Bridge, connecting University Boulevard with Main Street and Fifth Street. University Boulevard, then East Third Street, used to end at Park Place’s Central Avenue but was extended to the bridge almost half a century ago, much too late to benefit me when I was living on that street as an adolescent. Oh, and the Tunnel Bar is gone as well.

What of the Moss Island bridge? It’s also gone, supplanted by the Raible Avenue bridge. The Delaware Street bridge is also gone.

So if you’ve been away a while, you can still get there from here. But you have to do it another way.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.   

 

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