Urban renewal. Revitalization. Skyscrapers. It is rare that a collection comes along that so thoroughly documents the changes in the downtown Indianapolis landscape over 50 years. The Joseph and Georgia McGuire Photographs narrates this municipal transformation – overlapping chronologically with the W.H. Bass Photo Co. and the Larry Foster photography collections – and continues in detail through the second half of the 20th century.
Joseph and Georgia McGuire were professional commercial photographers who recorded the changing built environment of Indianapolis. After serving in the Korean War, Joe McGuire started his career at the Robert Young Studio, which he purchased in 1962, and later rebranded as McGuire Studio Inc. In the 1980s, the McGuires moved the studio into their home in historic Meridian Park. The bulk of McGuire Studio’s work revolved around downtown architecture: skyline views for the tourism industry, aerial shots for city government, new construction project photographs for contractors and developers, and extant building documentation for historic preservation undertakings. The company also did portraiture and event photography for both state and local politicians, grounds and exhibit work at Conner Prairie, and some miscellaneous stock photography.
More than 100 individual buildings are represented in the McGuire collection, as well as five decades of skyline views and three decades full of downtown aerial photography. The collection depicts Indianapolis urban revitalization efforts, such as initiatives to attract both tourists and businesses downtown via newly constructed Market Square Arena and Hoosier Dome stadiums, the development of Pan Am Plaza, the redevelopment of the Downtown Canal, and the construction of numerous hotels and skyscrapers. In addition, the collection covers the preservation of many historic structures including Union Station, Indianapolis City Market, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and residential neighborhood street scenes from Fletcher Place, Herron- Morton, Lockerbie Square, and Woodruff Place.
Photographs offered in the collection share many unique views of downtown: I-65 & I-70 interstate construction; the original termination of the canal at St. Clair Street; the Ransom Place neighborhood before the IUPUI expansion; the 300 block of Indiana Avenue populated by historic structures before the construction of the AUL building; short-lived historic buildings like the J.C. Penney store on Monument Circle and the Essex House on Pennsylvania Street; and three-quarter panoramic views of the Mile Square from atop the Indiana National Bank Building.
The Joseph and Georgia McGuire Photographs, circa 1950–2008, fills an important gap in our archive and is the first effort to collect significant manuscript and photographic documentation of Indianapolis in more recent history.