Central Canal and White River State Park

The Central Canal began with the 1836 Internal Improvements Act, as a project when man-made waterways were the main means of transporting goods. After the railroads came along, the Central Canal was never completed and seldom used, and as a result, it was abandoned in 1969. By 1980, however, steps were taken to refurbish the Canal and the district as a cultural and recreational area. Designed after the canals in Venice, now complete with gondolas, the area saw the addition of monuments and other attractions through the 90’s. Today, visitors stroll down the 1.5 mile Canal Walk, about ½ mile from Monument Circle, through the White River State Park and north to 11th Street. Here in the southwest quarter of downtown Indianapolis is a historic district and a variety of architecture in churches, monuments, and contemporary buildings. Some of the main tourist attractions include the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana State Museum, Indiana Historical Society, NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Admiral Raymond Spruance Memorial Basin at 10th Street, a tribute to the famous WWII hero from Indianapolis. The Indiana Museum of African American History will be a new addition to the district.

The old Washington Bridge, built in 1916, is now a pedestrian crossing linking the Indianapolis Zoo and the White River Gardens to the attractions on the east bank of the River. Displays of outdoor sculpture by regional artists were introduced to the Park in 1999, and every two years, selected artwork is offered for sale to the public. In addition, permanent outdoor sculpture includes Palm by John Mishler, and Convergence, by Carreno, Morales, and Thomas, consisting of two parts at street and Canal levels. The water promenade takes us past limestone carvings, the rose window, and Paluzzi’s Totem to the 17-foot waterfall at McCormick’s Rock, where the Canal meets the White River. The Rock represents the site of John McCormick’s cabin, one of the founders of Indianapolis in 1824.

City dwellers escape from urban life to enjoy the lazy days of summer in the 250-acre White River State Park. Residents and tourists come to jog, walk, roller blade, and cycle, where all types of cycles can be rented including 4-wheel surreys, choppers, and tandems. Boating along the Canal is popular, as well, with kayaks, paddleboats, and gondolas for rent. Plan a picnic and spend a Sunday in the Park, watch an Indians baseball game at Victory Field, named the best minor league ball park in the U.S., relive history and visit the museums, or just drift in a gondola doing absolutely nothing!

Outdoor concerts attract numerous visitors to the Lawn and the large terraced amphitheater, located across from Victory Field and overlooking the river. Named one of the top 100 outdoor concert arenas in the world, an average of 10 concerts are held each year. Equipped with VIP seating and excellent acoustics, the amphitheater will seat up to 6,000 people The 2007 season will include performances by the Indianapolis Symphony, Bob Dylan, and Bryan Adams with George Thorogood and the Destroyers. In addition, there are other activities held at the Park such as the Indiana Jazz Fest, Irish and Family Festivals, and walk/run events for medical and charitable causes. Outdoor and indoor cafes at city attractions along the Central Canal are popular places for visitors and residents alike, along with free Friday lunchtime and Thursday evening concerts.

The Buggs Temple facility at the north end of the Canal Walk, dating back to 1918 as a church building, was planned for redevelopment in 2003 and will open to the public this summer. The facility will house a marketplace, two restaurants, and a bar overlooking the River and the downtown skyline.

Cycle rentals: $5 – $24 (group rates available).
Hours: May 31 — Aug 15, 9:30 a.m. to sunset; August 21 — Oct 31, Friday, 11 a.m. to sunset and Saturday & Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to sunset. Open all holidays.

Paddleboats & Kayaks: $10 – $25.
Hours: May 31 — Aug 15: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Aug 21 — Oct 31, Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gondolas: Wednesday — Sunday, 5 — 10 p.m. (Private rides up to 11 p.m.)
Prices (a/o 2006): Public rides — 15 minutes @ $15/per person (includes 3 songs in Italian); 30 minutes @ $30/per person (six songs).
Private rides — 15 minutes @ $75(up to 6 passengers) 30 minutes @ $150; and 1 hour @ $300.

White River State Park Info: 317-233-2434

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