Automobile Row, Indianapolis 1907

The two attachments below contain articles from the March 19, 1907 Indianapolis News that describe what was known as "automobile row" in the nascent days of the Hoosier capital's auto industry. The trigger point of the article was a parade designed to promote car sales that was staged the previous day.
Spring was the season of car purchases as the weather had improved enough for the snow on dirt roads to melt or have been cleared and people could venture out. Also, automobiles of this time were typically drained of their fluids and stored for the winter to avoid engine damage from freezing. March was time for local dealerships to stimulate the market. All the car companies noted in this analysis entered product in the parade.
Automobile Row in Indianapolis was the first concentration of automobile dealerships in the city. It was downtown where not just dealerships were clustered but also service garages. Future Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Carl Fisher figures prominently here, but keep in mind this is a full two years prior to construction work on the track beginning.
These articles are a treasure to those looking to learn about the early auto industry of Indianapolis. The first attachment contains (AutoRowNews031907) an article that discusses the various dealers and the makes of cars they offered customers. Let's break it down:

The first attachment (AutoRowNews031907) also contained a second article reporting on the general optimism of local dealers concerning sales in the coming season. Actually, the article predicted record sales in the coming week as a result of the parade and associated promotions called, "the auto week." The article also asserts that Indianapolis had more dealerships and service garages than any other city of its size in the nation. More than 200 cars were estimated to have taken part in the parade - the largest number of automobiles in any event up to that time.
The article also predicts that hundreds of people from other towns across Indiana would come to the capital city to shop for cars. Vehicles prices were said to range from $500 to $15,000 with the average at $3,000. The average price of the cars in the previous day's parade was estimated at $2,000, making the total value of the parade participants at $400,000.
The second attachment is a simple list - called a Complete Directory - of dealership companies and their addresses. That makes it powerful, pure magic. With this information enthusiast readers of First Super Speedway can visit those address, take Instagram photos and contemplate the wonder of what was...

  • Frank E. Beck, 719 North Illinois
  • Fisher Automobile Company, 330 North Illinois
  • H.T. Hearsey Vehicle Company, 113-117 West Market
  • R.L. Sutherland, 115 West Maryland
  • D.B. Sullivan Auto Company, 27 North Capitol
  • Boyd Automobile Company, 415-419 Massachusetts
  • Bowman & Reeder, 111-119 Kentucky (garage & repairs)
  • Cadillac Auto Company, 330 East Market
  • Capital Auto Company, 130-132 East New York
  • Gibson Auto Company, 238 Massachusetts
  • Hill & Beeson Auto Company, 23 East Ohio
  • J.W. Harvey, East Maryland (trucks)
  • Indiana Automobile Company, 220-224 East New York
  • S.J. Summer, 118 East Ohio
  • Victor Automobile Company, 809 Massachusetts
AutoRowNews031907.pdf2.33 MB
AutoRowNews031907i.pdf173.84 KB