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. You can see the parts of our application that establish the presence of the neighborhood here.

There are over 700 historical markers around the state, but until this marker was approved by the IHB, only one–in Terre Haute–celebrated the contributions of Arab Americans to Indiana. The Capital Improvement Board and State of Indiana have now signed an MOU agreeing to place the marker in the northeast corner outside Lucas Oil Stadium in the fall of 2023. The majority of the funding for the $3,300 marker and its installation came 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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