Historic Bar Crawl

Each summer, Indiana Humanities brings Hoosier history to life by combining fascinating moments from our past with local libations…and a few surprises, too!

Historic Bar Crawl

Crawls feature actors from the Indiana Historical Society re-imagining important moments in Indiana history. Attendees sip on local beers and signature cocktails and thematically-appropriate snacks, while getting a glimpse into historic stories and surprising venues around Indianapolis. 

2019 Historic Bar Crawl

On your marks. Get set. Drink! 2019’s theme, Huddle Up: A Boozy Throwback Through Indy Sports History, raced through a century of Circle City sports, with plenty of drinks to keep you and your teammates hydrated. Along the way, we witnessed Hoosiers on and off the court battling for Title IX, saw the spot where Major Taylor first performed cycling tricks before earning worldwide fame and learned other surprising stories from Indianapolis athletics history. Attendees visited six locations in downtown Indianapolis, enjoyed Sun King Beers, signature cocktails and themed snacks; at each stop, Indiana Historical Society actors brought the past to life. 


It’s time to drag this remarkable and little-known LGBTQ history into the spotlight! On June 20, we journeyed through the late 1970s into the early 1990s with a drink (or two) in hand. We witnessed the nation’s first AIDS fundraiser, the state’s first Pride demonstration and other colorful scenes from the city’s past. Attendees visited six locations (some bars, some surprise locations) in the Old Northside of Indianapolis, where Indiana Historical Society actors brought the past to life. 


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Disco dancers and hip cats grooved through Indy on Tuesday, June 20 and Wednesday, June 21 from 6 – 9 p.m. Our fifth annual historic “bar” crawl, which combines thematically-appropriate food and drinks with historic re-enactments of stories of the city and its people will be themed “Naptown Get Down: A Groovy, Boozy Tour through 1970s Indianapolis.”

Participants weaved through downtown, beginning and ending at 416 Wabash and journeyed to four different stops along the way to learn about the people and places that helped transform the city from “India-no-place” to the dynamic urban center of today. Can you dig it? 

Check out our recap blog and pictures from Tuesday and Wednesday night!

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Secret agents joined us for a mission on June 21 and 22 through Cold War Indianapolis (circa 1948-late 1950s). Our intelligence officers helped train them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity – specifically spies and Communist sympathizers trying to infiltrate the heartland – and we met the brave men and women whose vigilance kept Indianapolis safe from the Red Menace. The fourth annual historic bar crawl, themed “Duck & Cover,” once again featured Indiana Historical Society actors re-imagining scenes from Indy’s past.

We noshed on thematically appropriate snacks and imbibed on drinks provided by Sun King Brewing Company while we visited four locations: Hirons & Company’s rooftop — where we met a member of the Ground Observer Corps keeping an eye on the sky; St. Mary’s Catholic Church — the real site of the first meeting of the Indiana chapter of the ACLU; Union 50 — where we met a young man eager to start his new job at the Naval Avionics Facility on Indy’s Eastside; and Indy Reads Books — where we learned about Rebecca Pitts, a professor who may have been fired thanks to her Communist sympathizing. The pre- and post-event gatherings were held at the Indy Fringe Theatre.

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Bar Crawl Logo 2015

For two days in June, bar crawlers journeyed through the history of Indianapolis’ working people, the city they built and the legacy they left—all with beer in hand. After clocking in at historic Union Station, revelers witnessed an 1880s economic depression that put thousands out of work, the outbreak of a 1913 streetcar riot, a 1930s Don’t Shop Where You Can’t Work campaign and local Lake Central stewardesses leading the nation’s first airline workers’ strike! Special thanks to Sun King Brewing and City Way.

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Bar Crawl Logo 2014

Indianapolis’ shadier side was the focus of the second annual bar crawl, as participants experienced a recreated John Dillinger raid, visited the site of a 1910s brothel, witnessed the FBI take down a 1950s “most wanted fugitive” and listened in on the closing arguments of the D.C. Stephenson trial. Special thanks to Sun King Brewing.

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Bar Crawl Page 2013 Logo

The cityscape and technology may have changed, but many of the topics we debate have not. Participants toured 100 years of Indianapolis history, including the catacombs hidden beneath the City Market, the city’s oldest bar, a historic transit hub and timely watering holes. Stories explored critical issues such as human sexuality, transit, economic woes, and foreign policy along the way. Special thanks to Sun King Brewing.

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