Indianapolis Things to Do Tips by deecat Top 5 Page for this destination
Indianapolis Things to Do: 186 reviews and 201 photos
American Legion National Headquarters
American Legion Mall is huge; it stretches for 2 blocks & is the newest, biggest, & most contemporary on the Indiana War Memorial Plaza. I enjoyed the vast space & open feeling.
I took an upclose photo at the Vietnam segment; it did not turn out. It is so "moving" with a "twin" segment on the Korean War. The two structures are each segments of a 12 & a half foot diameter, 25-foot tall cylinder. One side has engraved into it the names of the wars, & excerpts of letters written from soldiers to family & friends at home.
Indianapolis architect Patrick Brunner designed them out of limestone & granite.
The Vietnam segment is larger than the Korean because of all the people killed or missing in action. It says that 1,525 Hoosiers were killed in the Vietnam War & 927 Hoosiers were killed during the Korean War.
I had a lump in my throat as I read the poignant letters, knowing that these young men & women are now dead.
North of the Korean Section is the newest structure, the World War II Memorial. It is similar to both the Korean & Vietnam memorials. However, it is the 1st memorial on the Plaza to truly be a half-circle It is larger than the others because the war was larger. World War II was responsible for one-half million American deaths & half a million were wounded. Indiana lost about 12,000; 17,000 wounded.
It, too, has all the names of the dead engraved & soldier's letters. Unique to this Memorial is a free-standing column on the concave side listing the order of campaigns & operations..
Also at the American Legion Mall is the American Legion National Headquarters as shown in the photo, the Cenotaph Square (see tip), and a beautiful building called Building "B" 1925.
At the northern most end of the Historic district is the Marion County Public Library with its classic Greek Doric architectural design (1913-16) & made of Bedford, Indiana, limestone, but it is completely under construction at this time.
Address: 431 Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Water Fountain Inside Indiana War Memorial
Originally built to honor Hoosiers in World War I, it has since been rededicated for World War II and other wars.
Inside is just as breathtaking as the outside. It has 3 main floors, each equally beautiful. On the upper level is the incredible Shrine Room This room symbolizes peace and unity. It is made of materials from all over the world (symbolic that World War I was world wide in nature). They tell you that if you visit the Shine Room, you will leave with "a renewed sense of patriotism and an appreciation for the sacrifices of those who fought in the first World War." It does, indeed.
The Main Floor houses exhibit space, offices, and two 75-seat meeting rooms. In addition, it also houses a 500 seat Pershing Auditorium. The public can use the two rooms and the auditorium for a nominal fee. Quite impressive is the list of names of all Hoosiers who participated in World War I & all Hoosiers killed or missing in action from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The enormity of these lists is quite sobering.
On this main floor, we viewed an exhibit (photographic and commentary) concerning all the winners of the Medal of Honor. We spent a good deal of time here because it was so impressive...beautiful, bittersweet, and historic.
On the Lower Level, there is a FREE Military Museum portraying the history of Indiana's veterans. There's a commission plate of the battleship U.S.S. Indiana, Military firearms, Korean War era helicopter, Mexican War cannon, a Navy Terrier Missile, & a Desert Storm Humvee.
The use of marble, granite, brass, and gold leaf is really something. We commented that this structure would last forever!
The photograph is of a green marble water fountain. I just could not resist taking a picture.
Address: 431 Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
1886 Teacher in District #2 School
Conner Prairie is a living-history museum located just 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis. (See travelogue on Conner Prairie for more photos.)
The site was developed around the original home of William Conner, an influential fur trader who moved to this spot on the banks of the White River in 1802. He married a Delaware Indian woman, McKinges; they had 6 children. Conner was an interpreter for the negotiators of the 1818 Treaty of Saint Mary's, Ohio, which effected the removal of the Delaware and other tribes from central Indiana to Missouri. Mekinges, the daughter of a chief, elected to move with the other Indians, taking her children with her. Conner chose to stay. 8 months later, he married Elizabeth Chapman, a white woman 20 years his junior, with whom he had 10 children. It was in 1823 that he built this Federal-style brick house on a bluff overlooking his property.
The Conner House has been restored & furnished with period pieces, some original to the Conner family. This 1836 Village includes a number of residences & buildings arranged to portray a typical settlement of that period. Each place is occupied by a costumed guide who will does normal daily work activities & will have conversations with you as though you, too, were living at that time period. There are log cabins, several vernacular residences, a Greek Revival house, schoolhouses, a general store, & a blacksmith shop.
When you cross over the Cedar Chapel Covered Bridge, it is 1886 in Liberty Corner, a rural Indiana community. The Zimmerman's Farm & Home are wonderful plus there is a log barn, a Pennsylvania Bank Barn, a Friends Meeting House, & District #2 School with a perfect teacher as seen in photo.
Walk the trail by the White River to go to the 1816 Lenape Indian Camp. You'll see the McKinnen's Trading Post, wigwams, & interact with an Indian. (See travelogue).
Don't miss the fine Museum Shop, The Creamery, & Persimmon Restaurant.
Address: 13400 Allisonville Road
Directions: Located in Fishers
Phone: (800) 966-1836
A Home in Historic Lockerbie Square
See my Lockerbie Square Travelogue for more photos and information
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in April of 2005, Jill and I did a self-guided tour of Lockerbie Square before taking a guided tour of the Riley Home in the area.
This area is quite interesting because it is an eclectic mix of Queen Anne and Italianate, Federal, and Vernacular Cottages. From seeing this area, I am convinced that Indianapolis has made a firm commitment to preserving its historic past.
Lockerbie Square is a residential district that was largely settled by German immigrants during the Civil War Boom. It was originally a working and middle class neighborhood.
Indiana's poet, James Whitcomb Riley was inspired by the arching trees and flickering gaslights on Lockerbie Street, and he wrote:
"Such a dear little street it is
nestled away from the noise of the city
and heat of the day
In cool shady coverts of whispering trees."
All the literature implies that Lockerbie Square is one of the country's great examples of "Victorian restorations".
It was in the 1970s that Lockerbie Square saw a rebirth. The area had become a victim to urban blight and neglect. A group of dedicated people called "urban pioneers" began this neighborhood revitalization, and they were boosted by Lockerbie Square being included in the 1973 National Register of Historic Places.
The really wonderful thing about this area besides the incredible architecture is that its location is just a walk from the city's core. We were quite impressed with it all.
Directions: Four blocks east and two blocks north of Monument Circle
Indiana State Capitol
To schedule a tour, call (317)233-5293
The Indiana State Capitol is a beautiful building, the historic treasure of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.
Competition for the design of the new State House was won by an Indianapolis architect, Edwin May. He made the building to be shaped like a Greek cross with a central dome and rotunda. The main floor is built 14 feet above ground level. The building is where the governor, the House of Representatives (east side), and the Senate (west side) do business as well as the Indiana Supreme Court (north end).
The interior is in the Italian Renaissance style. Indiana materials such as Indiana Oak, maple, and walnut are used in the building.
Skylights bring in natural lighting. The Atrium skylights brighten the north and south wings. The Art Glass inner dome, in blue tones, is suspended below a skylight.
The exterior of the building is Corinthian style design. Indiana materials are used here, too. Oolitic limestone quarried from Monroe, Lawrence, & Owen counties; foundation limestone from Greensburg & North Vernon quarries; cornerstone limestone from Spencer, Indiana. So, the building is certainly representative of Indiana.
Many "blotched" changes happened in the first 100 years so in 1988, an eleven million dollar renovation and restoration took place to bring back its original elegance. The biggest project with the best results (I think) was removing three layers of paint and doing "four acres of plaster hand stenciling". The results are breathtaking.
The Indiana Supreme Court courtroom did not have to be restored because it has never changed.
I must say that this revitalized Capitol Building called the "State House" represents nineteenth-century grandeur with the inner workings of a twenty-first-century.
Directions: Capitol Avenue between Ohio and Washington streets
Scottish Rite Cathedral
Please see the TRAVELOGUE for the details & more detailed photographs
We took a tour of The Scottish Rite Cathedral & found it fascinating & informative. I love the tours being small ( just Jill, the tour guide, & me). It's done by a member of the Scottish Rite who has volunteered.
He told about the Gothic Tower (212 feet above the sidewalk); the 54 carillon bells; the 12 "fleur-de-lis atop the tower; the stone work around the doorways; the Tiler's Room at the Meridian Street entrance being a perfect cube; the Two-story Ballroom with its crystal chandelier; the Auditorium (Theater) for 1,100 people finished in carved curly Russian white oak paneling; the Organ with 7,000 pipes that come from 4 separate locations in the auditorium;& the Lounge with its two rows of columns 33 feet apart & spaced 16 1/2 feet on centers.
He showed us the glorious Art Glass Windows; the lush carpets designed by the architect; the Jacobean Library with windows dedicated to Governor Winfield Durbin; the grand staircase that is 33 feet wide; & the two-story ballroom with a mezzanine on all four sides.
He took us on the old, elaborate (clastrophobic) elevator. The tour guide also took us to the banquet hall that will seat over 2,500 people; its surrounded by a balcony which is a recreation room & the cafeteria. He also said that the members help troubled teens, bringing them here to tutor, etc.
He pointed a room that is climate controlled where they keep the photographs of each class that graduates into the Scottish Rite. It was so great to be able to go back to those first classes & compare them to today's group.
He finally told us that The Scottish Rite Cathedral cost $2,5000,000.00 in 1929 so you can imagine what it would cost today.
Address: 650 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317)262-3100 or 1-800-489-3579
Crown Hill Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the United states with several lovely High Victorian Structures on its park-lined grounds. I found the Gothic Gateway (see photo) particularly handsome. It was designed by Indianapolis architect, Adolf Scherrer. He also designed the Romanesque Revival Waiting Station (see Travelogue).
Many famous people are buried here such as President Benjamin Harrison; 3 Vice-presidents, Charles Fairbanks, Thomas Hendricks, and Marshall Thomas; Col Eli Lilly; Indiana Civil War Governor, Oliver Morton; Richard Gatling who invented the Gatling machine gun; James Whitcomb Riley, famous Hoosier poet; Booth Tarkington, author; and John Dillinger, bank robber.
Jill and I took a guided tour of this 200-year-old cemetery one beautiful Sunday afternoon in April, 2005. It's so large that it is on both sides of 38th Street with a crossing via a tunnel.
It's name comes from the actual hill crown that rises to the highest point in the cemetery and the county! That is where James Whitcomb Riley is buried in the middle of this crown. It is a place with grand vistas.
There's an orphans' lot and a Confederate soldiers' lot as well as a huge area for Union soldiers.
Our tour was called the "Heritage" and is the most popular of all the tours. It presented the history of the cemetery and took us to interesting people's graves. We saw a variety of monuments and statues. It lasted about one hour and forty-five minutes and covered over one mile. It cost $5.00.
This cemetery has a Peace Chapel, Garden Mausoleums, and the new Pine Mausoleum. We saw the National Cemetery (within the Crown Hill Cemetery) that is dedicated to those who served the country.
Almost 200,00 citizens are buried here. Of all the things I saw in Indianapolis, The Crown Hill Cemetery had the greatest impact on me personally.
Address: 700 West 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Directions: Entrance at 3402 Boulevard Place
Statue in Front of Eiteljorg Museum
The Eiteljorg Museum, which has combined its collection with that of the Museum of Indian Heritage, focuses on the arts and crafts of North American Indians and on Western art and Sculpture. The collection is strong in the artwork of Taos, New Mexico. It covers the painters, particularly the Taos Ten artists who were active in the early 20th century.
Native American art and artifacts from all sections of the country are on display, along with the workds of Frederick Remington, Charles Russell, & Albert Bierstadt.
The last day of a special exhibition was there the day we went. It was Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime. There were almost 40 paintings of Georgia O'Keeffee who is famous for her study of flowers, bleached bones, and the southwestern desert. There were also photographs taken by her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
Jill and I spent a good deal of time in the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, savoring each moment.
The design of this museum was supposedly inspired by the "land, people, and architecture of the American Southwest".
The photograph that I took is a bronze sculpture by George Carlson called, "The Greeting". This imposing statue is located in front of the museum and is a great salutation.
We parked underground, and it was free because we went to the museum and had proof.
The Museum has a wonderful store which we perused.
Museum & Store Hours:
Tours 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday noon- 5 p.m.
Seniors (65+) ($6.00)
Under 4 (free)
Address: 500 West Washington Street
Directions: Located within White River State Park
Pumphouse Visitor Center
On Saturday afternoon, Apri 2, 2005, Jill and I were quite busy visiting a museum, the zoo, but we took time out to do the White River State Park which is an easy walk from downtown.
First, we visited the Pumphouse Visitor Center which was build in 1870 (five years after the end of the Civil War. Go there to gather material, information, and maps. Then walk west (left) to the bridge that takes you over White River
At the far end of the bridge to the right you will see the Zoo. Adjacent to the zoo is the White River Gardens Botanical Showcase that is open year round.
Take the River Promenade, a 1/2 mile walkway made up of 1,200 blocks of Indiana limestone. 14 of these stones have carved renderings of famous buildings in the United States that are constructed of Indiana Limestone.
You'll pass the NCAA Hall of Champions which you may wish to visit. You need to know that this is a new version of the Central Canal for strolling. The original one was built in 1836.
Now, cross over the footbridge.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial with 27 curved walls of glass each between 7-10 feet high. These represent the conflicts in the world where the Congressional Medal was given. There are 410 medal winner's names and recorded stories.
Next is the Eiteljorg Museum (Indian and South Western Art). See it in another tip.
The Indiana State Museum is also here.
A memorial to the U.S.S. Indianapolis (the legendary World War II flagship that was sunk by ta Japanese torpedo 2 weeks before the war ended) was dedicated in 1995 and is here too.
This area is a 10 1/2 block area between 11th Street & Washington streets that has undergone a multimillion renovation and extended into the park.
It's really quite beautiful.
Directions: Between 11th Street & Washington Streets and extended into White River State Park.
Please click photo to see the details
The Soldiers & Sailors Monument is to Indianapolis as the Arch is to St. Louis.
It was erected in 1887-1901 of ashlar limestone and is dedicated to the 24,000 "Hoosiers" who gave their lives in the Civil War. It was designed by the German Architect, Bruno Schmitz There was an international design competition, and Schmitz won. He designed the monument as the city's focal point and as a gathering place. He succeeded!
The monument incorporates sculpture by 4 people, Rudolf Schwarz, Frederick William MacMonnies, George Thomas Brewster, & Nicolaus Geiger. It was fabricated by the Terre Haute Stone Company.
Private funds were collected, but most of the cost was paid for with public funds.
This structure is about 284 feet high, but with the statue called Victory standing atop it, that measurement increases. I discovered that most "Hoosiers" call Victory "Miss Indiana"!
My brother Dustin (who lives in Indianapolis) tells me that The Soldiers & Sailors Monument is decorated with thousands and thousands of small Christmas Tree Lights each Christmas season, and it is thus transformed into one of the world's largest Christmas trees!"
Jill and I rode the small elevator to the to step 290 and walked to the glass-enclosed observation deck. (the 330 stair walk was closed) Too bad the windows as filthy dirty so it's difficult to enjoy the panoramic view of downtown Indianapolis and impossible to take a photo.
It was impossible for me to take a photograph that encompassed the entire monument; I would have needed much more sophisticated equipment.
My two photos show details of the monument.
Address: Monument Circle, Meridian Street & Market Street
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