Author: Gwen Sunkel

In the Park: Canterbury Park

Passenger rail service was nearly eliminated by the late 1950s or early 1960s. (William H. Bass Photo Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society) Welcome to Canterbury Park!  This picturesque 1.7-acre neighborhood park is east of Meridian-Kessler and south of Broad Ripple at 5510 North Carvel Avenue, near where the Monon Rail Trail meets 54 th Street.  The park features a playground, picnic shelters, restrooms, and a sand volleyball court. The Canterbury Park neighborhood sprang up shortly after World War II, as soldiers returning from war sought affordable housing for their growing families.  Homes with ample yards and garages for family sedans brought new...

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In The Park: Forest Manor Park

Welcome to Forest Manor Park, established in 1937 Welcome to Forest Manor Park on Indianapolis’s east side. This 18.8 acre neighborhood park was established in 1937, to meet the needs of families moving out of the heart of downtown and into the city’s growing suburbs.   The park is located at 2000 Forest Manor Avenue, just south of 21st Street and east of Sherman Drive. The popularity and affordability of the personal automobile played a major role in shaping the city’s growth in the 1920s.  As cars rolled off the assembly line in nearby Speedway, they found homes in local driveways. ...

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In The Park: Haughville Park

Welcome to Haughville Park!  This five-and-a-half acre park on the city’s west side opened in 1922.  Located at 520 North Belleview Place, Haughville Park is one of the park system’s most popular family destinations. The area now known as Haughville was settled in the 1830s, when entrepreneurs began to open general stores and saloons near the west landing of the newly constructed Washington Street Bridge.  The bridge eventually gave way to rail lines; rail lines brought iron foundries, meat packing plants, and other industry. Reliable, well-paying jobs in these factories attracted Irish, German, and Slovenian immigrants, and the neighborhood’s...

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In the Park: Reverend Mozel Sanders Park

From Colonel Eli Lily to Mayor Thomas Taggart to basketball great Oscar Robertson, there is a lengthy list of people who have helped shape our city’s history.  Reverend Mozel Sanders left a particularly influential legacy of philanthropy and social justice.  Perhaps that’s why Indy Parks honored him by naming the twenty-five acre park at 1300 North Belmont Avenue for him. Mozel Sanders was born in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1924.  He grew up in Canton, Mississippi, during some of the most difficult years of the Jim Crow South era.  After completing school, Sanders enrolled in the Civilian Conservation...

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In the Park: 61st & Broadway Park

Just west of College Avenue in Broad Ripple, you’ll find 61st & Broadway Park. This quaint 2.7-acre neighborhood park opened in 1928.  The park’s amenities include a playground, picnic shelter, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, paved walking paths, and a spray park. Broad Ripple began as quiet farming settlement during Indiana’s early years of statehood.  Travelers crossing the state on horseback and by wagon found passage across the White River here when waters were low.  Grocery stores, saloons, churches, a sawmill, and a post office sprang up in the village.  In the mid-to-late 1800s, railroad and streetcar service brought...

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In the Park: Bethel Park

Bethel Park opened in 1935 Welcome to Bethel Park!  This 14.5 acre community park on the city’s southeast side is located at 2850 Bethel Avenue, and features athletic fields, horseshoe pits, a running track, and an outdoor swimming pool. Bethel Park is located in the Greater Southeast Neighborhood.  In Indianapolis’s early years, the area was sparsely settled.  The completion of the Citizen’s Street Railway turnaround at the intersection of Virginia, Shelby, and Prospect streets in 1864 brought new residents to the area.  Immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Eastern Europe made their homes near the rail yards, where jobs...

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In the Park: A Baaaaa-a-a-d Idea Turned Good

  The Indianapolis Parks system history is filled with delightful stories of united communities, honored heroes, and family fun. But there are a few tales in our city’s annals that might also raise an eyebrow or cause a chuckle. At the turn of the 20th century, the City of Indianapolis experienced a population boom. Plentiful jobs and an excellent quality of life attracted new residents to the Circle City, which in turn caused a demand for amenities and services. Mayor Thomas Taggart, who served as Mayor of Indianapolis from 1895-1901, urged the city to invest in parks and green...

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In the Park: Fall Creek & 30th Park

Welcome to Fall Creek & 30th Park! Welcome to Fall Creek & 30th Park!  This seven-acre neighborhood park is nestled into a quaint corner on the north side, where Fall Creek Parkway angles northeast.  It features benches, two full-sized basketball courts, and picturesque views of Fall Creek.  With ample parking, it makes a great location for bikers and joggers to access the Fall Creek Trail. It’s hard to believe that one of the busiest thoroughfares in Indianapolis was once a dirt road. In the 1840s, the rural area was a place for travelers to stop for picnics as they...

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In the Park: Hawthorne Park

The Near Westside neighborhood is one of Indianapolis’s oldest and most well-established communities.  In its early days, it was largely a rural area, separated from the “big city” of Indianapolis by the White River.  After the arrival of the Big Four Railroad in the mid-1800s and the Indianapolis Belt Railway in the 1870s, family farms gave way to industry.  Foundries, mills, meat-packing plants, and other factories sprang up around the railroads.  Plentiful jobs initially attracted immigrants from across Europe, followed by migrants looking to escape the Jim Crow South. This working-class community saw many changes over the years, some good and some...

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In The Park: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park

On Monday, January 19, our nation will pause to commemorate the work of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Though Indianapolis is hundreds of miles from Montgomery, Alabama where Reverend King and his fellow Freedom Riders staged the first bus boycotts and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, the Circle City played a unique role in King’s story. On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy (New York) made a routine campaign stop in Indiana during his bid for the Democratic nomination.  Shortly before he was to address...

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In the Park: Willard Park

One mile east of downtown Indianapolis on Washington Street, you’ll find Willard Park.  The land of this eleven-acre park had many identities in its history, but has always played an important role in uniting the community around it. Willard Park is named for William Willard, founder of the Indiana School for the Deaf.  Willard and his wife taught the school’s first class of twelve students in 1843.  Enrollment flourished and the school quickly outgrew its meeting space.  The state agreed to build a residential campus where Willard Park stands today, which opened in 1850.  The Indiana School for the...

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In the Park: JTV Hill Park

A cold wind whipped through the bare trees as I walked the perimeter of JTV Hill Park.  There was no denying it: winter had arrived in the Circle City.  Temperatures are dropping, Indy Parks remain open.  Though JTV Hill Park’s baseball, softball, and soccer fields stood empty during my recent visit, peels of children’s laughter came from the playground equipment as a group gathered under a nearby picnic shelter. JTV Hill Park spans ten acres in the 1800 block of Columbia Avenue.  The neighborhood park was established in 1921 to serve the residents of the Martindale-Brightwood community.  It is...

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In The Park: Christian Park

Welcome to Christian Park on Indy’s southeast side As trees begin to drop the last of their crisp leaves and the sun sets ever earlier, there’s no denying it: winter has descended upon the Circle City.  While a trip to your local park in chilly temperatures may be a bit much for  some readers, Christian Park, on the city’s near southeast side welcomes visitors year-round. Christian Park is a 64 acre community park located at 4200 English Avenue.  The park offers picnic shelters, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, baseball diamonds, football fields, and a splash pad. The east side...

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In the Park: Skiles Test Nature Park

Welcome to Skiles Test Nature Park Just across the street from Woollens Garden you’ll find another of the city’s most primitive parks, Skiles Test Nature Park.  There’s no better place to take in the sites and sounds of fall than this eighty-one acre forested area on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The Test family made their home near the center of this land in in the city’s early years.  Indianapolis businessman Skiles Test inherited the family farm upon the death of his father Charles in 1910. Skiles Test was a reclusive figure and urban myths about his eccentricities abound. ...

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In the Park: Woollens Garden

The northeast section of Interstate 465 is one of Indianapolis’s busiest roads.  Travelers speed through it on their morning commute, perhaps unaware that one of the City’s most picturesque parks lies beneath this road, just south of Fall Creek.  Its name is Woollens Garden. William Watson Woollen, great-grandfather of renowned Indianapolis architect, Evans Woollen III, was born in Indianapolis in 1838.  He grew up on his family farm, eight miles northeast of the city, and later studied law at what would become Butler University.  William inherited the family farm upon his parents’ death and continued to use it as...

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In The Park: Babe Denny Park

This fall, over half a million football fans dressed in their blue and white finest will visit downtown to cheer the Indianapolis Colts to victory.  As they trek to the stadium, many will unknowingly pass one of Indianapolis’ smallest parks. Babe Denny Park is located at the corner of Meikel and Wyoming streets.  This 1.1 acre park was dedicated in 1923 and today, serves residents on downtown’s south side. The park was originally named Meikel Park, after John Meikel, an entrepreneur who immigrated to the United States from Germany, making Indianapolis his home in 1840.  His family honored him...

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In the Park: Highland Park

Welcome to Highland Park in the Holy Cross neighborhood Indianapolis’s second highest elevation is found in a park in the Holy Cross Neighborhood, near 1100 East New York Street.  The park’s unimaginative name?  Highland Park.  But what this green space lacks in clever naming, it makes up for in beauty, history, and community involvement. The 4.09 acre neighborhood park is one of Indianapolis’s oldest and is set in one of its most venerable communities.  The area we now know as Marion County was originally inhabited by the Delaware tribe of the Miami Nation.  The United States government entered into...

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In the Park: Spades Place Park and Brookside Parkway

Just down the street from Brookside Park, you’ll find Spades Place Park.  This thirty-one acre neighborhood park at 1800 Nowland Avenue is one of the Windsor Park neighborhood’s most picturesque features.  But it’s not Spades Park’s amenities that attract visitors so much as its simplicity. If you’re a long-time reader of HI, you know that Spades Park was named after Michael H. Spades, who made his fortune in real estate.  In 1898 he donated six acres of land straddling Pogue’s Run to the city and funded the construction of a shelter house and a bandstand on the property  Two...

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In the Park: Brookside Park

One of my favorite things about Indianapolis is that the city has something for everyone.  Whether you’re looking for unique cuisine, world-class art, kid-friendly activities, or the thrill of a sporting event, you can find it in the Circle City.  If you’re in search of a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, there’s no better place to play than Brookside Park. This 108-acre community park is located at 3500 Brookside Parkway South Drive.  In the summer months, Brookside’s pool and spray park are popular destinations for families attempting to beat the heat.  Kids can enjoy the playground while their caregivers...

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In the Park: Douglass Park

Indianapolis is a city rich in sports tradition.  We have the Indianapolis Indians, minor-league baseball’s second oldest team; the Indiana Fever, who won their first WNBA title in 2012; the Pacers, three-time American Basketball Association champs between 1967 and 1976; and our beloved NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts.  Let’s not forget the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts “the greatest spectacle in racing” each May, or the NCAA Hall of Champions, a museum celebrating the achievements of collegiate athletes.  But historic athletic events have taken place throughout the city, though most on a much smaller scale.  Many of these took...

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