Mass Ave
Indiana Cultural Districts

Check out Mass Ave, just one of six districts in the Indy area.

Ten minutes from UIndy is an artsy district in the heart of the city that’s unlike any other. The Massachusetts Avenue cultural district is rich in art, architecture, food, and shopping—and it’s well known for its fun and funky feel.

Even the street’s orientation to the Indy street grid is askew. Built at a 45-degree angle to the city’s north-south layout, the “Mass Ave” district reaches from New York Street to East Ninth—easing out of downtown to a world all its own.

The bricks & mortar

Take a walking tour of Mass Ave and you’ll find buildings on your left and right apparently frozen in time. The Murat Shrine Temple and the Athenaeum, found on oposite corners, are architectural marvels. The Murat Theatre is known for concerts of all kinds, plus shows such as The Lion King and Wicked. The Athenaeum, built in 1894, houses a YMCA, theatre, and more. The Hammond Block houses the unusual Silver in the City gift shop, Hoaglin to Go café, a Starbucks, and much more.

The eye candy

Besides the amazing architecture, art pops up all over the district, on both street and stage. One of the newer landmarks is the LED sculpture “Ann Dancing,” by internationally known artist Julian Opie. Murals brighten the area, as well. And eight theatres, from improv to professional, help bring life and color to the district. Mass Ave also hosts a First Friday event each month that features local artists in six galleries.

Explore Mass Ave through pictures

The munchies

Need some spice in your life? Cajun, Italian, German, Mediterranean—Mass Ave has all those and more. Yats, a locally owned restaurant with several Indy locations, features affordable Cajun food at its best. The Rathskeller at the Athenaeum offers Bavarian fare, with outdoor dining during the warmer months. If you have a taste for Italian, you’ll find Bazbeaux Pizza or Agio Italian Restaurant. Aesop’s Tables features great Mediterranean fare. For dessert, visit the Flying Cupcake or the Best Chocolate in Town. Didn’t see your favorite? There’s more on Mass Ave’s menu of more than 25 restaurants (including the historic City Market nearby).

The goodies

Looking for shoes? Toys? Or just something original and unusual?

Shopping on Mass Ave is a kick. Global Gifts, a fair-trade organization, works with people in developing areas (from 35 countries) and pays artisans who otherwise would not be able to reach the market. (The store also features items from locally owned businesses, such as the Brown County Coffee Company.) Mass Ave Toys is a joy, an independent retailer offering art kits, educational games, science-oriented dolls, and all sorts of fun, charming toys. Stout’s Shoes is famous for its throwback ambiance; it’s been there since 1886. Their shoes have kept pace with the styles, while the store is amazingly retro—right down to its Baldwin Flyer system of moving shoes around the store via a series of pulleys, wires, and baskets. Stores throughout the district offer high-end fashion, such as Sage Boutique and Tantrum (where you can build your own handbags), Sakura Urban, and others. So hit Mass Ave often when you’re a UIndy student. It’s close by, afford- able, and ready to keep you entertained for hours.

—Photos & story by Staci Reafsnyder ’11