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Forty years before Indianapolis Star columnist Lowell Nussbaum organized a fundraising drive for an Indianapolis Zoo, Riverside Park housed two bears, five foxes, two eagles, one monkey, 12 alligators, and eight deer. Built at the turn of the century, a November 9, 1910 photograph of the circular Bear Pit became an postcard iconic image.

Here are two looks into the lives of Indianapolians from July 1911.

Postcard #1

Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND. JUL 31, 1911 7:30 PM

BearPit11Front

The Riverside Park Bear Pit postcard sent from Indianapolis, IND. on JUL 31, 1911.

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This version of the Bear Pit postcard was printed by the Majestic Publishing Co. in Indianapolis, IND.

Message:
Dear Annie,
Hope you are well and will let me know when you are coming up to Indpls to see us.
As ever KH Barns
best wishes to your mother and all

Addressed to:
Mrs. Annie Volz
815 E. Central Ave
Greensburgh, Ind

Postcard #2

Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND. JUL 30, 1911 – 8:30 PM

BearPit2Back1911

The Riverside Park Bear Pit postcard sent from Indianapolis, IND. on JUL 30, 1911.
(postcard image: Indianapolis Public Library Digital Postcard Collection)

BearPit2Front1911

This version of the Bear Pit postcard was published by The Indiana News Company in Indianapolis, Ind.
(postcard image: Indianapolis Public Library Digital Postcard Collection)

Message:
Indianapolis
Dear Mother
Was glad to hear from you
We are all O.K.
Come home with “Bubbly” when he is ready.
Lovingly,
Horace

609 W. 10th

Addressed to:
Mrs. Francis Lericbo
Carthage, Indiana
Rush Co.

A penny for your thoughts … The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and the International Motor Speedway are two of Indianapolis’ most iconic images. However, in the 1910s, the Riverside Park Bear Pit was a very popular postcard image. What are the most frequent Indianapolis landmarks you find on old post cards?

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Learn more about Riverside Amusement Park by checking out Gwen Sunkel’s article, In The Park: Riverside Amusement Park.

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