I am a victim of what can be best described as geographical profiling. I live on the East Side. I am often perceived as being poor and uncultured. I supposedly spend my time living the life of a criminal or cowering in my home, lest I become a victim of crime. The perception is that our schools are not good schools. We are in a bad location. There are parts of your town that get a bad rap too. If you live there, I know you're feeling me.
If a crime is committed on our turf, the news people are quick to note that this was an "East Side murder." This puts the rest of the city at ease. The East Side may as well be Micronesia in terms of disassociation from the terrible event. Tell someone from across town where I live and I get the strangest looks Sometimes, it's an expression of sympathy as if I announced I live in a war zone or a shanty town. On occasion, I get a haughty look, which is followed by a round of condescending comments. The conversation often ends on the spot. Maybe I'm a bit chippy about this. Perhaps my body language says "I live on the East Side, MFer, wanna make something of it? Despite my over sensitivity there is substance to my claim.
The East side of Indianapolis does not have the amenities it deserves. Retailers, while not doing that well in any location, largely shunned us even during the economic boom. Our end of town is a densely populated as the others, yet new businesses are built miles away. Had they been built here, they would have enjoyed the same amount of success. The East side myth perpetuated by realtors has left us with a glut of loan shark outfits (PayDay Loans) , tanning salons, second hand stores, tattoo parlors, outlet stores, everything-for-a-dollar joints, and numerous cell phone shops. We may even be considered the Tire Store District or maybe the Discount Furniture District. We have 1 mattress store for every 6 citizens.
Our mall is a mausoleum. Few know what stores, if any, still exist behnd its grey and dirty facade. The last time I looked, there were mainly only more cell phone stores and a glut of cheap gold jewelry kiosks among the empty arcades. Some progress has been made as a sporting goods store and theatre complex were built with their storefronts facing toward the heavy traffic on East Washington Street, but an effort to dismantle the mall and rebuild a shopping and dining complex with easily accessible businesses has not happened. Death comes to any new store buried in the heart of the mall.
The main problem is that there are no destinations on our end of town. We are the last to get the a particular brand of store or restaurant. It, like the city as a whole, lacks character. But the perception is that the particular franchise on another side of town is somehow better than the one out east. This is true to a degree. Money is not spent to make our storefronts as presentable. For some reason we have the most burnt out letters on neon signs than anywhere else in the city. There are telephone poles lining our main streets. When a business fails, the property decays. Weed-filled lots flourish.
Ah, but there's good news. East Washington Street is being rebuilt. A few of the strip malls have upgraded their property. The realtors that are among the first to wake up and actually promote my side of town will flourish. There is money to made out here.