The Far Eastside is a suburban, working class Indianapolis community located outside the interstate beltway around the city and approximately ten miles from downtown. Boundaries for the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside include I-465 to the west, Pendleton Pike and 56th street to the north, Carroll Road to the east, and Washington Street to the south.
The Far Eastside had its major growth and development during the later years of the postwar housing boom from 1965-1980 as a result of working and middle class families moving out of the central city neighborhoods to new more affordable suburbs. People were attracted to the Far Eastside by the expanding employment opportunities at Fort Benjamin Harrison and several major manufacturing facilities, inexpensive and attractive housing, and the clean, rural character. The concurrent development of Interstate 70 and 465 made travel to the area easier despite the distance from the center of the city. The rapid residential development also brought retail and commercial growth into the area, which continued to grow and prosper through the 1970's.
The complex set of government systems impacted the Far Eastside community. During the early 1970's, the city of Indianapolis and Marion County were combined under one unit of government locally referred to as Unigov. While Unigov united a variety of government functions, many original municipal governments and township governments were not included in the reorganization. As a result, the Far Eastside is served by three fire and law enforcement entities, three school districts, two township jurisdictions, and two municipal jurisdictions, the City of Lawrence and the City of Indianapolis.
The Far Eastside community has experienced many changes over the last twenty years. Some of these changes have brought bountiful opportunities to the Far Eastside community, while others have threatened the economic stability of both the neighborhoods and businesses. A significant economic factor in this part of the city is Fort Benjamin Harrison, a major U.S. Army installation, which lies directly north of the Far Eastside community.
Over the years, many military families and civilian employees of the Fort purchased homes and rented apartments in the Far Eastside. Although the base closed in 1996, the Finance Center, a major part of the base and an important employer, remained. Fort Benjamin Harrison has developed in recent years to include a state park, upscale housing, and retail and commercials within the City of Lawrence.
The early 1980's brought the most significant for the Far Eastside with the closing of Western Electric and Chrysler located in the Shadeland Avenue industrial corridor, which employed many area residents. The closure of these plants was a significant economic blow to the area. The community has seen a major demographic change from a primarily white population to a more racially mixed population. The residents are increasingly young, with over one-third of the population under the age of 18. Over the last twenty years, the Far Eastside has also significantly changed from a community of virtually all homeowners to an even mix of home owners and renters.
Compelled by their concerns, the residents of the Far Eastside began to come together and talk about the problems in their community. Residents have become increasingly concerned about the significant decline in the number of stores and other services in the area. They are concerned about the lack of youth services in the community to nurture and encourage youth to become responsible, civic-minded adults. They are concerned about the disrepair of streets and sidewalks, their safety, and other city services. Most importantly, they are concerned about the lack of community identity as well as the absence of connections and community spirit among the neighborhoods.