(Sept. 29, 1910-May 10, 1989). The second of 11 children born to Austrian parents, Philip Bayt Jr. attended Holy Trinity grade school and Arsenal Technical and Washington high schools where he excelled in sports. After high school, he worked for Link-Belt Company and then at Kingan And Company in Indianapolis before enrolling in Lincoln Law School in 1933.

Inauguration of Mayor Philip L. Bayt Jr., January 1, 1956
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

Bayt won the office of precinct committeeman in his westside neighborhood (Haughville) in 1934 and held that position until 1942. In 1937 he became Marion County deputy sheriff and chief deputy in 1939. Shortly after this Bayt passed the bar examination.

Rejected for military service because of pulmonary tuberculosis scars from his childhood, Bayt became a U.S. Secret Service agent in 1943 and helped guard Franklin D. Roosevelt’s train during the 1944 presidential campaign. That same year he returned to Haughville and worked as an inspector and then chief rent attorney for the Office of Price Administration (OPA). When OPA was abolished he became rent director for Marion and two other Indiana counties. On January 1, 1948, Bayt was appointed city Controller when his best friend, Albert G. Feeney, became mayor of Indianapolis. Bayt was often called the “Mayor of the Westside.”

Mayor Bayt hands a gavel to newly sworn-in Judge Pat Barton, 1953
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

When Feeney died on November 12, 1950, Bayt, at age 40, became mayor. During his one-year term, Bayt initiated or advanced the one-way streets program, a $1 million street repair plan, new playgrounds and parks, better city lighting, and an expansion of the city sewers. He also reorganized the police department under a merit system that provided salary increases without raises in taxes.

Bayt was the Democratic candidate for mayor in November 1951 but lost to Alex Clark. He resigned as mayor effective November 24, 1951, one month before the term ended, to accept appointment as judge of Municipal Court 3. The following year he became Democratic Party county and district chairman, positions he resigned in 1953, along with his judgeship, to accept a substantially higher-paying position as manager of the Better Business Bureau of Indianapolis.

Bayt was elected mayor of Indianapolis in November 1955. Accomplishments during his second stint in the position included continued expansion and improvement in the city’s infrastructure, creation of several new city departments, and reduction of the workweek for police and firemen. Bayt also initiated a crackdown on gambling, narcotics, and vice, leading to national recognition of Indianapolis as a clean, safe city.

In November 1958, while sitting as mayor, Bayt ran successfully for Marion County Prosecutor. He thus resigned as mayor on January 1, 1959, to accept the new position, serving as prosecutor through the end of 1962. From 1963 until 1968 Bayt was a member and chairman of the Indiana Public Service Commission. In 1968 he was a nominee for Congress from the Sixth Congressional District but did not win. In 1969 he opened a law office on the west side of Indianapolis and became a part-time judge for the Lawrence Magistrate Court, a post he held until he retired at age 65.

Revised April 2021
 

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