Nora is a northside neighborhood originally centered in the vicinity of Westfield Boulevard and 86th  Street. The Nora Community Council, the area’s prominent neighborhood association, defines its current boundaries as 96th  Street, White River, Williams Creek, and Township Line Road. 

Aerial view of a shopping center with a large parking lot.
Nora Plaza, 1960 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Peter Lawson, a Swedish immigrant, founded Nora in 1871. His general store and post office stood near the town’s rail station, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and grocery, all now demolished. The origin of the name “Nora” is uncertain, although most versions report that Lawson named it after his hometown in Sweden.

Though Nora had rail and Interurban service for a time and was later near the intersection of busy motor routes SR 431, US 31, and SR 100 (86th  Street), it remained a small and quiet town until the 1950s. Nora then experienced a sudden influx of new businesses and homes as Indianapolis expanded northward. A large shopping mall, Nora Plaza, opened in 1959, and additional commercial developments were planned. The area’s roads and sewers were inadequate to handle this new growth.

In response to these problems, residents organized the Nora Community Council in 1967, an umbrella organization for a number of small neighborhood groups. Since its founding, this organization has fought to control development patterns and enhance residential neighborhoods. The council’s efforts have contained commercial development within designated nodes, such as Keystone at the Crossing and 86th  and Westfield Boulevard. The group has also worked with the City of Indianapolis on engineering designs for area roadways. Due to this cooperative planning, original designs for widening 86th  Street were altered significantly to retain residential corridors.

From 2018-2019, the Council battled to save 16 acres of old-growth trees in Haverstick Woods, located at the corner of Haverstick Road and 86th  Street. Nora residents sued the city over its controversial zoning decision in this area. Although a Johnson County Superior Court Judge eventually ruled that the Indianapolis City-County Council had overstepped when it approved development of the property, most of the trees the residents were trying to save had already been cut.

Revised April 2021

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