The Major Taylor mural was unveiled downtown in September 2021. Photo by Robert Annis.
The five-story portrait captures Major Taylor in three stages of his career.
In the 1890s, Indianapolis joined a hot American trend by attempting to fashion itself as a bicycle city. More than a century later, Indy residents continue to enjoy the recreational pastime undoubtedly made better by the legacy of one of the city’s shining sons–Marshall “Major” Taylor.
Taylor, a decorated and world-renowned bicyclist, was born and raised in Indianapolis in the mid-1800s. His name stands alongside other world-famous athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Serena Williams, who have triumphed to the highest levels in their sport in spite of the hatred and bigotry they faced.
However, as of 2016 Taylor, whose name is emblazoned on a state historical marker and the Indianapolis Velodrome, had not yet been recognized in his hometown in a manner some thought befitting of his legend.
Anthony Bridgeman, a cycling enthusiast and local businessman, worked for many years with a coalition of other Hoosiers who were interested in honoring Taylor’s legacy with a mural in downtown Indianapolis.
“It was a labor of love,” said Bridgeman. “The mural looms large over Washington Street, located near the Hays and Willits Bicycle Shop where Major Taylor worked in 1892. He had been hired to perform bicycle tricks in front of the store.”
In September 2021, the Major Taylor mural was revealed on the Barnes & Thornburg building, 11 S. Meridian St. It features a triple-portrait montage that captures Taylor in three stages of his athletic career—as a youth, as an adult during his competitive peak, and upon his return to racing after a two-year hiatus. The piece, created by artist Shawn Michael Warren in collaboration with Boxx the Artist, was the first in a series of Bicentennial Legends murals to mark Indianapolis’ 200th birthday.
The mural was made possible through the generous support of the City of Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission, Barnes & Thornburg, Glick Philanthropies, the CIBA Foundation, and public donations to the Major Taylor Coalition, which were matched by SRAM Corporation.
Artist Shawn Michael Warren talks about the making of the Major Taylor mural. Video by Joe Tamborello.