Indianapolis Inventory No. 1

Downtown Indianapolis made of wood blocks on a coffee table at The Platform.

Downtown Indianapolis made of wooden blocks, on a coffee table at The Platform

“Don’t be too hasty in trying to find a definition of the town; it’s far too big and there’s every chance of getting it wrong. First, make an inventory of what you can see. List what you’re sure of. Draw up elementary distinctions: for example, between what is the town and what isn’t the town… What is the heart of a town? The soul of a town? Why is a town said to be beautiful, or said to be ugly? How do you get to know a town?”

—Georges Perec. Species of Spaces, 1974.

Today in Indianapolis I see wide streets, several war memorials, people who say ‘hello’ in the crosswalk, sensible cars, skyscrapers with financial logos, snow, purple light beneath an overpass, coffee shops with people huddled under the eaves and smoking, turquoise fire hydrants, spacious sports bars with neon beer logos blinking in the windows, a snow-covered lawn leading towards a broad marble staircase.