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What’s in a Name, Indy? Haughville, Part 3 — Street names in Haughville

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Some of the names of the streets of Haughville have been changed through the years. This news column provides some background on the names of two of the streets of Haughville that were changed because of war.

Germans were one of the immigrant groups that found a new home in Haughville and throughout Indianapolis in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Through the decades, their influence was prevalent in many ways throughout the region.

As Europe was engulfed in war in 1914, animosity developed between many Americans towards Germany. The anger intensified during the next few years. Part of that anger towards Germany was based on that country’s use of submarines to attack and sink ships. Not just military ships, but also passenger and merchant ships.

“Throughout February and March 1917, German submarines targeted and sunk several American ships, and many American passengers and seamen died,” according to a statement from the United States Department of State. “On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. [President] Wilson cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On April 4, 1917, the U S Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurred two days later. The United States later declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.”

The anger against Germany caused people in Indianapolis to demand that the city change the names of Bismarck Avenue and Germania Avenue in Haughville. The names of these two streets originated from aspects of Germany.

Bismarck Avenue was named after Otto von Bismarck. He was a leader in Prussia who led the efforts to unify a number of German states into one nation — Germany. He served as the first Chancellor of Germany.

Germania Avenue received its name from the Latin word that means, according to several sources, land of the Germans.

On March 19, 1918, The Indianapolis News reported that “an ordinance was introduced providing for the change in name of Bismarck Avenue to Pershing Avenue, Germania Avenue to Flora Avenue.”

“Pershing Avenue” was proposed to honor General John Pershing. He was the leader of the American Expeditionary Force that was fighting the Germans and its allies in World War I.

The name of “Flora Avenue” arose from the plants — flowers — in the area.

A few weeks later, The Indianapolis News reported on April 16, 1918, that the name change for Bismarck Avenue had been approved by the Indianapolis Common Council. The part of the earlier proposal regarding the name change for Germania Avenue, though, was “stricken out. People living in [on] Germania Avenue have petitioned the Council to change the name of the street to Belle Vieu Place.”

That’s correct. The initial name change of the roadway from “Germania Avenue” to “Flora Avenue” had been changed again to “Belle Vieu Place.”

But that’s not the name of the street today — Belleview Place.

A news article in The Indianapolis Times on Dec. 21, 1920, provided an explanation for the subsequent change of the name of the street from “Belle Vieu Place.” The newspaper indicated that “residents of the vicinity desired the change the Council suspended the rules and passed an ordinance fixing the name of the street known before the war [World War I] as Germania Avenue as Belleview Place. The name was changed from Germania Avenue in 1918, because of popular dislike for anything suggesting Germany, but the ordinance gave two spellings of the new title. The other spelling was Bellevieu Place. The residents prefer Belleview Place and the Council complied with their wishes.”

“Belle vue” — whichever way you might spell the wording — means “beautiful view” in French.

Information about the names of additional local streets in Haughville will be detailed in Part Four.

Do you have questions about communities in Indianapolis? A street name? A landmark? Your questions may be used in a future news column. © 2022 Richard McDonough. Contact Richard McDonough at whatsinanameindy@usa.com.

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