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Life In The Big Small City

March 08, 2016 / Property: Amp Apartments

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During the Fall semester of my senior year at Ball State, I found myself weighing an offer to attend my dream grad school in NYC – an offer that, had I taken it, might have steered my life in a completely different direction.

But by Spring semester, I had made the difficult decision to continue my internship with Milhaus instead of going to the Big Apple. So, soon after graduation, I moved to downtown Indianapolis to be close to work. At the time, it seemed like I was settling on Indiana and all of the corn and soybeans it had to offer. I mean heck, the Milhaus “corporate headquarters” was a two-bedroom apartment at the time. But you know what, turns out, it was the best decision I've ever made.

Fast forward to four years later, and I am still a resident of downtown Indianapolis and am now in love with living in this city. I believe downtown Indianapolis is truly the confluence of living in small-town USA and a sprinkling of everything you could want in a primary market city. No, we aren't close to mountains, you negative Nancy. No, we don't have ocean views, you sour Sally. But you know what, we don't need them.

Here are 5 ½ of my favorite examples of what we do have:

The Cultural Trail. If you've never heard of this, just know that it is one of the most significant things to ever happen to our city. You can get just about anywhere worth going from the trail. It's been such a game changer for businesses and people alike.

The food. We have four James Beard chef finalists in this city. FOUR! I mean, have you tried the burger of the month at Kuma's Corner? Don't even get me started on those Wildwood sandwiches. I'm talking Mad Flava here! But in all seriousness, our downtown food scene is something straight outta' Brooklyn.

The public spaces. A warm spring day on The Canal is one of my favorite ways to experience downtown Indy. Since my dog cannot read the signs, he goes for a swim in that water almost every week during the summer months. But when not on the Canal, we enjoy sitting on the steps on Monument Circle. Gameday events on Georgia Street. Concerts at the Lawn at White River State Park. And you know what, the spaces are always clean - a downtown Indy trademark.

The drinks. You could throw a stone from anywhere downtown and hit seven craft breweries. Well, not really - but you get the idea. In all seriousness, an awesome craft beer scene, coupled with the master mixers at the likes of Libertine and Thunderbird - and you have one heck of good night ahead of you and your friends. Not to mention, you can walk there safely in 20 minutes - on the Cultural Trail!

The people. Hoosier Hospitality as they say. No matter where I go downtown, I feel like I always have the opportunity to see someone I know. And not only see them, but stop and have a real conversation. The Cultural Trail is a great source for these random encounters. Indy is just one really big small town. Relationships and friendships mean something here.

The people, again. This time, I'm talking about game changers - people like Jim Walker at Big Car Collaborative. I'm talking about the likes of Brian Payne at CICF. I am especially talking about the Linton Calverts. These fellas inspire me to do good things in this city. They see downtown Indy as a special place, but want to make it even better.

Downtown Indianapolis has so many different living options depending on your lifestyle and needs. New apartments. Historic Lofts. Townhomes. Condos. Single family homes.

Today, I live in a 534 square foot apartment at Circa, with my very hairy child. I tell you this because I love living small, even with something else living in my apartment with me. My favorite part about it is that it forces me to think about what I really value in life, and what stuff/things/clutter I actually need surrounding me. I mean, seriously, you should have seen how much stuff I donated to Goodwill before I moved in. For me, small, urban living means I have more opportunity to let the city be my bonus room, or backyard, if you will. And I honestly can't imagine a better backyard than downtown Indy.

Now, is downtown Indy living going to be a forever thing for me? I hope so, but who knows. What I do know is: I thank God that I didn't end up in New York.

I resonate with my homeboy, Indy native President Benjamin Harrison, and leave you with his not so famous words that Indianapolis is “no mean city.” Downtown Indy is a special place, a place that I proudly call home.