Indianapolis’ First Memorial Dedicated to Arab American History

In 2022, the Arab Indianapolis Foundation, Inc., applied to the Indiana Historical Bureau (IHB), a division of the Indiana State Library, to place an historical marker at Lucas Oil Stadium, where Syrian immigrants developed the first Arabic-speaking neighborhood in Indianapolis. There are over 700 historical markers around the state, but until this marker was approved by the IHB, only one–in Terre Haute–celebrates the contributions of Arab Americans to Indiana. The Capital Improvement Board and Lucas Oil Stadium are now negotiating the terms of the IHB’s recommendation to add a marker. The hope is to erect the marker in time for Indiana’s Arab American American Heritage Month in April, 2023. The majority of the funding for the $3,300 marker will come from donations to the Arab Indianapolis Foundation with additional support from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

Lucas Oil Stadium is located on the same ground as Indianapolis’ first Arabic-speaking neighborhood. From 1890 to 1920 hundreds of people from Ottoman Syria lived among African Americans and European immigrants on Willard Street, between Senate and Capitol Avenues just north of Pogue’s Run creek. Ten or more people resided in houses only 15′ wide. Credit: Indianapolis News enhanced by Jessica Dunn.
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