Super Bowl 46 descended on Indianapolis in late January 2012 and the city was ready. As Urban Indy has reported on frequently over the past year, the city was ready with the reconstruction of a 3 block street downtown from a formerly sleepy 4 lane street to a full on pedestrian boardwalk of sorts. Georgia Street was designed to handle the type of events that the Super Bowl would bring with it. Namely, TONS of foot traffic, concerts, street vendors and performers as well as mother nature.
What happened over the two week period can be quantified in one word: AWESOME! Georgia Street played host to over a million visitors and the modifications facilitated an atmosphere and walkability that urban advocates talk about all the time. Additionally, Monument Circle was closed to motor vehicles. It was a frequent visiting place for photographers and tourists alike as lage roman numerals were erected on the plaza fronting South Meridian street. Former Urban Indy member Greg Meckstroth reported on this last year and also extolled the virtues of the concept of the programmed space. In his post he wrote
The benefit of programmed spaces was demonstrated for two weeks. The outdoor realm was activated. People mingled. Money changed hands. For the most part, injury and confrontation was avoided and the best parts of experiencing an urban space were on display for all. Even those who don’t necessarily think about urban design gushed poetic about the benefits of being able to walk everywhere while they were in town.
Following the Super Bowl, the city tabbed Indianapolis Downtown Inc to lay out a plan for taking advantage of Georgia Street. A design guide was released (click to open .pdf) that laid out how the 3 block stretch should be developed over time and also created incentives for business owners who spend their own money to modify Georgia Street frontage. What this says is that the City gets it, and wants more of it.
In conclusion, what the long term plan for programming the space will be, and how it might carry over to Monument Circle, remains uncertain. However, Super Bowl 46 demonstrated with 100% accuracy, the power of the programmed space and how a city even as auto centric as Indianapolis, can embrace these changes that enrich the pedestrian experience.