Tiffany Benedict Browne
Indy Like a Local
Who is Tiffany?
Founder of HistoricIndianapolis.com and author of a book about Indianapolis cycling history, scheduled to be out in summer 2021
Q. Congrats on the recent 10-year anniversary of Historic Indianapolis! What sparked your interest in starting the site?
Thank you! It started by wanting to learn the story of my house in Herron-Morton, and then the neighborhood and city. Though I used to visit my grandparents here during summers when I was growing up, I knew almost nothing about Indy. The deeper I delved into the city’s past, the more fascinating I found it. I thought other people might find it as interesting as I did, so I started sharing those things on a blog. When I recognized the immense appetite for local history that was out there, I developed a full website and was lucky enough to have a small cadre of extremely talented volunteers who contributed as well for a number of years.
Q. What has surprised you most about Indianapolis’ past?
Probably how connected Indy is to everywhere else. I believe that most visitors here –whether they realize it or not – likely have an Indy story in their family tree. I’d bet most people had a relative at least pass through our Union Station, since it was such a travel connector and hub for so many decades.
Q. I’m sure you have many favorite historic sites/homes around the city. For those interested in history, where would you recommend they visit?
In the interest of brevity, I’ll say my top five swoon-worthy historic places still standing are:
- The interior of the Indiana State Capitol – just breathtaking
- The freestanding staircase and mosaics in the Federal Courthouse
- The Soldiers and Sailors Monument – you must go to the top at least once
- The World War Memorial – do not miss the Shrine Room.
- Union Station – inside and out and
Q. Was your work with HI the impetus for writing your book? If not, what prompted you to dive into Indy’s cycling history?
Sort of. In the course of researching other Indianapolis-related topics, I came across a mid-1890s publication that featured a weekly column detailing who was riding what brand of bicycle. I thought that was odd. It piqued my interest, and down the rabbit hole I went. The subject is so huge that it needs a book, and I’m having a blast working on it.
Q. Where might you take out-of-town visitors for an authentic Indy experience?
When friends visit, I tailor to their wishes, but typically suggest the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and the aforementioned historic places. Also, drinks at Spoke & Steele and dinner at Bluebeard, or one of my other local faves.
Q. Do you have a favorite concert venue or performing arts venue/organization?
Hands down, The Cabaret. The space is just stunning and the performers they choose are top notch. And their home is part of a former roller skating rink – how cool is that?
Q. Is there a park, trail, or garden you prefer to visit for fresh air?
Q. Describe your ideal day in Indy. What would you do, and where would you go?
Breakfast with my husband at The Garden Table on Mass Ave, followed by a long walk on the Cultural Trail and eventually to the Circle and around downtown with our Pomeranians. Checking out and discussing new developments or other architectural projects. Popping into City Market for a chocolate croissant from Circle City Sweets. Heading across the street to the Cummins public green space to split the croissant. Spending a couple of hours co-working at Coat Check Coffee, sipping on their amazing ginger beer would be next. Followed later by wandering the other end of Mass Ave to Bottleworks, popping into City Dogs Grocery, and an early dinner outside at Mimi Blue Meatballs. Topped off with a show at The Cabaret, by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, or by the Indianapolis Ballet.
Q. People love knowing about the hidden gems of a city. Care to reveal any of your favorite hidden gems in Indy?
The amazing little Enza’s Boutique that carries some of the most unique women’s clothes in the city. A little farther afield, I love the Taggart Memorial in Riverside Park, which is getting a makeover to become the home of Indy Shakes, our local Shakespeare in the park. The colors of Crown Hill Cemetery in the fall are breathtaking and worth the drive out to visit. There are also a few famous and infamous people buried there. Ending on a literal high note, the view of the city from the top of Crown Hill, where James Whitcomb Riley is buried, is lovely and one of the highest natural points in the city.