WHITE RIVER STATE PARK BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Located in downtown Indianapolis, one block from the State Capitol, the Indiana Convention Center, less than 1/2 mile from Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts), within walking distance of restaurants, hotels, and shopping, Indiana's first and only urban state park is very unique!
In addition to the abundant green spaces, trees, water ways, walkways, and trails you may find in a typical state park, White River State Park features a variety of world-class cultural, recreational, and educational attractions and experiences for people of all ages to enjoy.
Just a few of the opportunities in the Park include established favorites like the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the NCAA Hall of Champions Museum, the state's largest IMAX Theater, plus the dynamic new Indiana State Museum. Over 3.5 million people collectively visited the Park and its attractions in 2008! PARK EXPERIENCES
Current Park venues, attractions, and programming:
- Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial
- Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
- IMAX Theater
- Indiana State Museum
- Indianapolis Indians AAA Baseball @ Victory Field
- Indianapolis Zoo & White River Gardens
- The (Governor's) Lawn @ White River State Park (Indy's Premiere Outdoor Concert Venue)
- NCAA Hall of Champions Museum & NCAA Headquarters
- Historic Pumphouse (White River State Park Administrative Offices)
- National Federation of High Schools
- White River State Park Visitors Center
- (FREE) Wi-Fi @ White River State Park
- Segway of Indiana Tours @ White River State Park
- Wheel Fun Rentals (Unique Bike & Boat Rentals)
- Celebration Plaza & (White River) Amphitheater
- Children's (Play) Maze
- FREE Family Arts Series @ White River State Park
- Historic Central Canal
- The Oval
- Memorial Overlook
- Military Park
- Renovated "Old" Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge
- Art Sculptures in the Park
- Waterfront Project
- (White) River Promenade
Park projects under construction or in the design stage:
- Indiana Cross Country Arena @ White River State Park (Estimated Grand Opening in 2010 Season)
- Indianapolis Cultural Trail @ White River State Park & Historic Central Canal Cultural District (Estimated completion by 2010) ABUNDANT ON-SITE PARKING
Visitors to White River State Park enjoy some of the most convenient parking in Indianapolis. An underground garage - cool in the summer, warm and dry in the winter - in front of the Eiteljorg Museum and Indiana State Museum offers 829 parking spaces. Additional parking for buses, visitors and Indianapolis Indians' games is available on the south surface lot across from Victory Field (next to the Park's Visitors Center and off of Washington Street & Schumacher Way).
The Indianapolis Zoo also has 1800 parking spaces available for most visits.
During large events and festivals in the Park, the State of Indiana Garage on the corner of West Street and Washington Street is also open to the public. Fees may be assessed at any of the lots mentioned. CURRENT PARK VENUES, ATTRACTIONS, AND PROGRAMMING Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial
The nation's first memorial dedicated to recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor - our nation's highest award for military valor - was dedicated on May 28, 1999, at a ceremony attended by one of the largest-ever gatherings of Medal of Honor recipients.
The memorial is composed of 27 curved walls of glass, each between 7 and 10 feet high, representing a specific conflict for which the medal was awarded. The glass walls feature the names of the 3,410 individuals who have received this prestigious award for their heroic actions. It is located on the north slope of the canal just south of Military Park. Periodically throughout the day and night, stories recorded by Medal of Honor recipients are played, telling of courage, heroism and the human spirit. Visitors also can also use a touch-screen monitor to learn more about the Medal of Honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and each recipient. Every evening at dusk the memorial becomes illuminated.
A "Gathering of Flags" is located at the top of the hill at the east end of the Memorial, featuring four American flags from different periods during which the 3,410 heroic veterans were awarded the Medal of Honor.
IPALCO Enterprises, an Indianapolis-based energy company, funded the construction and, through its Foundation, continues to support the maintenance of the memorial as a gift to the medal recipients and to the country. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Opened in 1989, the Eiteljorg is one of only two museums east of the Mississippi with Native American art and cultural objects, as well as Western paintings and bronzes. In 2005, the Museum opened expanded gallery space, a sculpture garden, and downtown Indianapolis' newest dining location - The Sky City Cafe. Also, the Museum's expansion includes a state-of-the-art education facility, and a performance/special event area - doubling the Museum's square footage.
Through its extraordinary collection, presentations, artists in residences, workshops and hands-on experiences, the Eiteljorg shares with the visitor the art, culture and history of America's first peoples and the cultures of the American West. In addition, the Eiteljorg Museum, the only museum of its kind in the Midwest, is one of the world's premier exhibitors and collectors of significant contemporary Native American fine art.
Highlights of America's frontier experience are depicted in the Museum's American West and Native American galleries. Spanning the early 19th Century to the present, the American West collection includes paintings and bronzes by such artists as Georgia O'Keefe, Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. Considered one of the finest of its kind in the country, the collection originated when the late Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg ventured west in the 1940s looking for coal. While there, he fell in love with the land, the people and the art, and returned with a fantastic collection. IMAX Theater
Located in the new Indiana State Museum, Indiana's largest and most technological IMAX Theater lets patrons experience movies like never before. The 409-seat theater shows 3D and 2D movies on a six-story screen. The digital sound system and the bright, crisp picture make you feel as though you are in the movie, not just watching it.
IMAX film prints are ten times the size of normal films projects images that are brighter, clearer and sharper and seem to reach out and grab the audience. Theatergoers wear polarized glasses to watch IMAX 3D films, and it is the latest in cinematic technology. Indiana State Museum
The Indiana State Museum, which opened on May 22, 2002, tells the state's story in high-tech, high-touch exhibits that chronicle Indiana's past, present and future. Museum officials hired internationally renowned Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the firm best known for its work on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., to design the 60,000 square feet of permanent exhibits. In addition to the permanent exhibit program, which explores Indiana's art, culture and natural science, the new museum has 12,000 square feet reserved for changing exhibits.
While there is a lot to see and do inside the museum, the museum's exterior also teaches visitors about Indiana. Designed by Indianapolis' Ratio Architects, the museum is constructed of Indiana materials, including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass. As visitors walk around the building, they will find 92 sculptures built into the facade, sidewalk and a handrail. These 92 sculptures, each representing one of Indiana's counties, make up the 92 County Walk.
The new Indiana State Museum also features a two-story gift shop and two restaurants - the family-friendly Crossroads Cafe and a re-created landmark, the L.S. Ayres Tea Room, featuring the famous chicken velvet soup along with other traditional menu favorites.
Indianapolis Indians Baseball @ Victory Field
In its December 21, 1998, issue, Baseball America said Victory Field was "The best of everything in one ballpark." The magazine reviewed 73 minor-league ballparks that have been built within the past ten years. The editors deemed Victory Field the "clear-cut choice" as best. Sports Illustrated also agreed - deeming Victory Field as "The Best Minor League Ballpark in America" in 2001.
The open-air, natural grass ballpark is home to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, top farm team of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This 15,500-seat park includes picnic areas in the outfield as well as luxury suites, combining traditional features with modern amenities. The skyline view from behind home plate is breathtaking. The ballpark was designed by the same architectural firm responsible for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Coors Field in Colorado.
Victory Field opened its doors to an eager public on July 11, 1996. Since the ballpark's opening in 1996, the team has continued to provide affordable entertainment for the entire family. Indianapolis Zoo
With nearly 350 species of animals and almost 18,000 plant specimens, along with one of the country's only totally enclosed environmentally controlled dolphin pavilions, the Indianapolis Zoo is accredited as a zoological park, botanical garden and aquarium. Opened in 1988, the 64-acre zoo is one of the few zoos in the country to be built from the ground up.
The Zoo features a beautiful African Elephant Preserve exhibit that opened in 2002, along with animals grouped together in "biomes," or areas representing the wildlife and habitats of African and Australian Plains, Forests and Deserts around the world, plus various watery environments. Highlights include a polar bear, Amur tigers, Pacific walrus, reef sharks, lemurs, giraffes and sea lions. New in 2003 saw the arrival of white rhinos. In 2005, the nation's only underwater dolphin pavilion exhibit opened for visitors, and the Meerkats exhibit opened in 2006. 2007 included the opening of The Oceans exhibit and shark petting area. Upcoming additions include a new biosphere for Gorillas!
Take the whole family on Kombo, the safari-themed family coaster presented by AUL, watch the kids on a hot day enjoy the Enchanted Mill water playground or ride a pony, or take in the popular daily dolphin shows and the 4-D simulator ride. White River Gardens
The Indianapolis Zoo opened this showpiece garden attraction adjacent to the east end of the Zoo in June 1999. Even though it is just steps from a bustling urban environment, the complex offers a secluded green haven of over 3.3 acres of interior and exterior gardens, with a resource room, a wedding garden, a gift shop and the Flora Cafe, all set against a dramatic view of the downtown skyline and waterfront. One of the focal points is the 65-foot-tall, 5,000-square-foot glass-enclosed Hilbert Conservatory that includes a mezzanine level and features seasonal exhibits, including the popular spring and summer "Butterflies" show, orchids in the winter, bonsai for the all and a train show for the holidays.
In this facility, the traditional garden is presented in a contemporary way for visitors to get ideas they can duplicate at home. Original artwork by five artists is integrated into the design - an agrarian motif developed by Eric Ernstberger of Rundell Ernstberger. Whimsical ducks, tortoises and rabbits, created by Jan Martin, often pass for the real things. Muralist Andrew Reid created the stunning circular mural depicting Indiana's four seasons that greet visitors as they pass through the Schaefer Rotunda entrance.
The plant palette is always changing with the seasons in the stunning outdoor DeHaan Tiergarten. Over a hundred thousand Spring flowering bulbs burst with color. Summer fields of Black-eyed Susans waft in the breeze, accompanied by thousands of wave petunias, and almost every other summer flower you can imagine. Visitors can relax as the listen to the fountains, literally smell the roses, and are awed by the beauty of nature.
The (Governor's) Lawn @ White River State Park (Indy's Premiere Outdoor Concert Venue)
The newest amphitheater in Indianapolis, opened in August 2003, accommodates up to 8,000 concert fanatics on The Lawn. During the off-season, it is complete with a waterfront bandstand used for concerts, festivals, and other community events. When not in use for events, this area is the perfect tranquil resting place for people to relax or picnic. Over the past five years, concert goers have been experienced world-class artists like Bob Dylan, The Fray, Allison Kraus, Death Cab For Cutie, Bonnie Raitt, O.A.R., Crosby Stills & Nash, Trey Anastasio, Guster, Ben Harper, Jason Mraz, Wilco, and may more! NCAA Hall of Champions & National Headquarters
The NCAA Hall of Champions (HoC) is adjacent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association national headquarters. Set in an inspiring structure designed by nationally prominent architect Michael Graves, the Hall of Champions and Conference Center offer a stunning architectural setting for an inspiring visit.
The HoC uses a variety of interactive displays, three theater presentations and other exhibits to celebrate champions of all 22 sports in Divisions I, II and III.
It captures the action of college sports, but also emphasizes the positive values of the student-athlete. For example, the Champions Theater details a day in the life of a student-athlete, showing the hard work and sacrifice off the field that comes with juggling sports and schoolwork. Working hard, putting education first, and competing hard but fairly are values emphasized throughout the HoC's exhibits.
The HoC also hosts traveling exhibits and special displays in a 3,000 square-foot gallery. The special exhibits change seasonally and focus on a variety of sports, art, and culture.
A 1920s-era gymnasium on the second floor of the Hall gives visitors the chance to try a variety of sports equipment; it's also a great place to perfect your jump shot.
It's clear that the NCAA HoC is more than another "old cleats and uniforms" sports museum - it provides active fun for the whole family.
The NCAA Hall of Champions reopened to the public in 2009 with a completely new design and interactive experience after fire and water damage in 2008. Historic Pumphouse
The Pumphouse Visitors Center is a restored water pumping station that began operation in 1871 and provided the first public water service for the City of Indianapolis. Built in 1870, the facility used the canal's water to drive pumps and turbines to produce pressurized water for drinking and fire protection.
The Pumphouse is located in the center of the Park. Visitors may browse through the displays on the Park's development and the history of the water company. The Pumphouse serves as the administrative office for the White River State Park Development Commission. National Federation of State High School Associations
Following the NCAA's lead, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) moved its national headquarter from Kansas City into the restored Acme-Evans Grain Mill Superintendent's Building. NFHS - the national service and administrative organization for high school athletics and fine arts programs in speech, music and debate - employs about 40 people in the building, which connects to the NCAA Headquarters so NFHS can share meeting rooms. Dr. Frank P. Lloyd Sr. Visitors Center
The White River State Park Visitors Center opened in April 2003. In this facility, visitors have a chance to rest, satisfy their thirst with a drink of water, snag brochures & maps, or use the restroom.
Park Staff is readily available to answer questions about the Park and its attractions. During the summer months, a cafe offers concessions in the rear of the Visitors Center during major events.
(FREE) Wi-Fi @ White River State Park
Log-on for FREE (with e-wireless) and surf the internet in near the Park's Visitor's Center in the most relaxing outdoor setting! Segway of Indiana Tours @ White River State Park
See the Park like never before when you take a guided Segway Tour of the 250-acre Park. Glide by all of the Park's attractions and finish your tour on a scenic trip around the Historic Central Canal. A training session and helmet are included the rental and reservations are preferred.
Wheel Fun Rentals (Unique Bike & Boat Rentals)
We've got fun for the whole family! Try our fleet of pedal powered recreational cycles and boats. Now offering 4 Wheel Surrey Bikes, Cruisers, Tandems, Quad Sports, Choppers, Deuce Coupes, Pedal Boats, and Kayaks
Enjoy the great outdoors while exploring the miles of bike pathways or leisurely floating in the Historical Central Canal.
Bike rentals are located next to the Indiana State Museum and boat rentals along the canal walk at the corner of Ohio Street & West Street (connected to Firehouse #13). Have a family excursion or bring a group down to enjoy affordable rentals of unique bikes, boats, and more! Celebration Plaza & (White River) Amphitheater
A wide vista of greenspace extends east from McCormick's Rock to form Celebration Plaza, an open area of walkways, lawns, the "Totem" sculpture, and a grassy amphitheater with terraced seating built into the side of a gentle hill that is the home of the Park's FREE Family Arts Series.
Celebration Plaza, flanked on the west by the Renovated "Old" Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge, hosts outdoor festivals and reintroduces Park visitors to the White River.
Trees, flowers and shrubs tie Celebration Plaza, the Historic Central Canal, and the White River together with a view of the Indiana Cross Country Arena @ White River State Park (greenspace areas on the northeast bank of the White River). Children's (Play) Maze
These limestone blocks create a maze that gives children the opportunity to wind through and jump from while their parents watch and relax. FREE Family Arts Series @ White River State Park
The Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation and the Lilly Endowment, Inc make the FREE Family Arts Series possible.
In 2008, the Family Arts Series was created to provide a new stage and audience for some of Indianapolis' premiere performing arts groups in an outdoor park setting. The FREE concerts provided the opportunity for families from all walks of life to enjoy an afternoon or evening of absolutely free entertainment.
The Park's continued vision for the FREE Family Arts Series will connect family audiences and passionate community partners with White River State Park. Ultimately, each event within the series will expose visitors to the diverse cultural scene in our city.
Through free performances and community outreach, this diverse series will magnify additional opportunities to enhance visitor expectations and experiences while visiting the Park and Indianapolis.
As a testament to the quality of its first year, White River State Park was honored with the "Artful Impact Award" in early September 2008.
This award, presented by the Indianapolis Arts Council, recognizes outstanding contributions by an organization or group to Indianapolis' arts and culture. This prestigious award highlighted the importance of this type of free summer arts series in Indiana's capital city. Historic Central Canal
In 1996, the Central Canal was extended from the Indiana Government Center at West Street through the Park, emptying into the White River. The canal runs along the southern boundary of Military Park to the western edge of the former Blackford Street. At this point, the canal turns south passing under the Historic National Road (US 40).
Then, the canal turns west again narrowing to form a flume reminiscent of how the original canal provided waterpower to area industries. Finally, it ends with a 17-foot waterfall at the river's edge under McCormick's Rock, which commemorates the founding of the City in 1822.
Pedal boats and bikes are available for rent in warm-weather months throughout the Park. Memorial Overlook
This memorial, located on the east bank of the White River next to the Historic Pumphouse, is dedicated to four community leaders who lost their lives on September 11, 1992. Michael A. Carroll, Frank E. McKinney, Jr., Robert V. Welch, and John R. Weliever were on their way to Columbus, Ohio on Park business when they perished in a mid-air collision. This memorial serves as a reminder of their dedicated service to the community and White River State Park. Military Park
Once a Civil War encampment and training field, Military Park was the site of the first Indiana State Fair and the first document 4th of July celebration. The 14-acre greenspace is in the shape of a military badge. It's the site of many picnics, reunions, charity-sponsored walks and runs, concerts and festivals and other special events.
According to the Indiana Constitution, Military Park is one of three parcels of land that can never be sold by the state (The other two are the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and half of the State Capitol). The Oval
Located between the Historic Pumphouse and the Park's Visitors Center, this area provides seating for up to 400 for private receptions, dinners, or a great spot to catch a FREE wireless connection offered by the Park. Renovated "Old" Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge
In 1833, a bridge was built across the White River to carry travelers on the National Road (US 40). This served as the nation's first federally funded highway and now is known in Indianapolis as Washington Street.
After extensive renovations, the "Old" Washington Street Bridge serves as the pedestrian crossing that connects the Indianapolis Zoo, & White River Gardens, the (White) River Promenade, and the Art Sculptures in the Park to the other Park attractions on the east bank of the river heading toward downtown Indianapolis. The space also serves as a site for numerous public and private events.
The bridge includes decorative lighting, limestone benches, banners, and bi-annually changing sculptures. Art Sculptures in the Park
White River State Park created the Art Sculpture in the Park program in 1999 to showcase the work of Indiana artists. Sculptors from all over the state submit their designs, which are then judged by a panel that includes contemporary art professionals. The winning pieces are exhibited throughout the Park for a period of two-years and are offered for sale.
In 2007, the Park opened the program regionally to include Midwestern artists and provides an honorarium to sculptors that have their work on display along the Renovated "Old" Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge. Waterfront Project
In recent years, the city, state and federal governments have worked together on the Central Indianapolis Waterfront Project to provide more enjoyable access to the White River and downtown Indianapolis. The project included expanding the downtown canal north to 11th Street, adding new walkways on both banks of the White River, pedestrian-safe bridges, and picnic areas. The walkways in the Park connect to the City's Greenways Trail System, on which visitors may skate, bike, walk, and jog from one end of the metro area to the other based on the conditions of the various trails.
(White) River Promenade
Located along the northern boundary of the Indianapolis Zoo on the west bank of the White River, the River Promenade offers great views of the water as well as the City's skyline. The walkway is lined with flowering trees and evergreens.
Completed in 1988, the half-mile walkway is constructed of 1,272 large blocks of Indiana limestone. Highlights include stone tablets featuring carved renderings of famous buildings constructed of Indiana limestone.
One of the most unusual elements along the promenade is the hand-carved "rose window," a beautiful limestone structure measuring seven-feet, six-inches in diameter and constructed of 17 pieces of carved stone attached to a single steel frame. The Promenade received the American Society of Landscape Architects' 1992 Honor Award for Design.
Park Projects under Construction or in design stage: Indiana Cross Country Arena @ White River State Park
With an estimated Grand Opening for the 2010 cross country season, the Park has partnered with the Indiana Invaders (International Pre-Olympic Racing Team), the City of Indianapolis (Indy Parks), local schools (middle, high, and college), Olympic Training organizations, and other businesses to create a natural world-class cross country arena along the banks of the White River.
This space will serve as a testament to the entire community's greenspace renewal and conservation stewardship initiatives by providing access to championship level races (from the youngest to Olympic hopefuls) and educational pathways in a most unique downtown setting.
Plus, the Nature and Education Trail System will connect this arena to another outdoor running space and showcase the natural beauty and wildlife that has been flourishing along the White River. Most native Hoosiers are unaware of the peaceful escape back into nature right in their own back yards - the Indiana Cross Country Arena and connection to the Nature & Education Trails will open the senses to amazing world just a few yards below the busy pavement, streets, and bridges of Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Cultural Trail @ White River State Park & Historic Central Canal Cultural District
With an estimated completion by 2010, the "West Corridor" will include the White River State Park & Historic Central Canal Cultural District, Indiana Avenue, Blackford Street, Washington Street, and West Street.
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick is a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts, entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire Central Indiana Greenway Trail System.
The five downtown cultural districts connected by the Indianapolis Cultural Trail include Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave, White River State Park & Historic Central Canal, and the Wholesale District. The Cultural Trail will also connect with the Monon Trail, allowing visitors easy access to Broad Ripple Village (Indy's 6 th Cultural District) from downtown.
A large public and private collaboration led by the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the City of Indianapolis, and several not-for-profit organizations devoted efforts to building a better world-class city by making the Cultural Trail possible.