Indianapolis Monument Walking Tour
Experience downtown monuments and memorials with the Indianapolis monument walking tour. Our city devotes more acreage than any other U.S. city to honoring our nation's fallen, and is second only to Washington, DC, in the number of war memorials.
Review the landmarks below and all the while you'll only be steps from our hotel. This Indianapolis monument walking tour takes you from Monument Circle north to explore these impressive structures that pay homage to those who fought for our freedom.
100 W. Washington St.
It's tough to miss the Indianapolis Artsgarden. This seven story tall glass dome sits suspended over the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, with traffic passing under it. The base is 118 ft. in diameter and the interior has about 12,500 square feet. The shape itself, and the multiple circles of lighting on the underside, echo nearby Monument Circle, the physical and spiritual center of the city.
140 W. Washington St.
The National Road, later known as US 40, was a major driver in the development of downtown Indianapolis, and where the road cut through the city- it was known as Washington Street. By the turn of the century, Washington Street was the most cosmopolitan shopping district in the state, and became home to dining, hotel, and entertainment venues.
Indiana State House
150 W. Washington St.
The Indiana Statehouse was built in 1888 and is the fourth building to house Indiana state government. $2 million was originally approved for the project, but Gov. James Williams, known for his Hoosier frugality, was able to complete the project for just $1.8. The remainder of the money was returned to the general fund.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is the physical and spiritual heart of Indianapolis. But in a city where so much was planned, this was not what was supposed to go on the site at all. Indianapolis was originally planned by Alexander Ralston, an assistant to Washington, DC designer Pierre L'Enfant, as a grand capital city. He put a circle at the intersection of Meridian and Market Streets, intending for it to be the location of the Governor's Mansion, and it was originally known as the Governor's Circle.
Hilbert Circle Theater
45 Monument Circle
The Circle Theater opened in 1916 as the city's first "movie palace" - and one of the first such buildings in the Midwest. Today it is the second oldest building on Monument Circle after Christ Church Cathedral, and is home to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Christ Church Cathedral
125 Monument Circle
Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest building still standing on Monument Circle, dating to 1857, and one of the oldest in the whole city. It's actually the second church on this spot. This building replaced the original 1838 church. There used to be five churches on Monument Circle, but this is the only one left.
Birch Bayh Courthouse
46 East Ohio St.
Covering the entire block bounded by Ohio, Meridian, New York, and Pennsylvania Streets, the United States Court House and Post Office Building was the first and largest local example of the monumental Beaux-Arts style, a type of neoclassicism that became popular nationally in the wake of the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. This style is used for many US government buildings, as well as other prominent civic structures such as art museums, across America. The Court House anchors the southern end of the seven block war memorial mall, a grand City Beautiful space that is amongst the finest in America.
300 North Meridian St.
The State of Indiana, in the 1827 legislative session, designated this land as property for a state university. However, that idea never came to fruition. Twenty-five years later, campus buildings were constructed for a seminary. The seminary used this site for a mere eight years, from 1852 to 1860. Once vacated, this site was used to prepare Union troops for a confrontation with the Morgan's Raiders during the Civil War.
Indiana World War Memorial & Museum
50 E. Michigan St.
The architects for this memorial and museum were Walker and Weeks out of Cleveland, OH. The memorial honors the Indiana men killed in World War I. The Military Museum inside also lists all of the Hoosiers killed or missing in action through the Vietnam War. Construction began in 1926, but was not completed until 1965 due to construction delays. The cornerstone was set by General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing who was the American Commander in Europe during WWI. He died in 1948, and never saw the memorial complete.
Minton-Capehart Federal Building
575 North Pennsylvania St.
It's hard to miss the Minton-Capehart Federal Building. Its very modern design style strongly contrasts with that of the classical formalism of the war memorial mall across the street. This 1975 office building was designed by the local firm of Woollen and Associates in a style known as Brutalism. The name Brutalism actually comes from the French phrase for "raw concrete", which is one of the signature elements of the style. It emerged from the utopian theories of the famous architect Le Corbusier.
Veterans Memorial Plaza
North Side of Michigan St. between Meridian and Pennsylvania
Centrally located in the seven block war memorial district listed as a National Historic Landmark, the Veteran's Memorial Plaza honors all Indiana veterans. The centerpiece is an Obelisk that reaches 100 feet. It was constructed out of black Berwick granite in 1930.
World War II Memorial
Designed with the intent to be similar to the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, this monument is on the east side of the American Legion Mall. It is just shy of 20' wide, much larger than the other two, reflecting the size and scale of World War II, and is truly a half-circle.
Scottish Rite Cathedral
650 Meridian St.
Scottish Rite is one of the variants of Freemasonry. It was very popular during the 1920's, as this building attests. Completed in 1929 at a cost of $2.5 million, it is the largest Scottish Rite Cathedral in the world.
American Legion Mall
700 North Pennsylvania St.
The American Legion Mall stretches between two city blocks, from St. Clair Street on the north to North Street on the south. The mall is flanked by two American Legion facilities- the National headquarters, built in 1950, on the east, and the headquarters for the American Legion's Dept. of Indiana, built in 1925, on the west.
40 East St. Clair St.
The north end of the war memorial mall is book ended by the Central Library. The library was built in 1917 to plans by Paul Cret, a Philadelphia architect, who designed it in a neoclassical style. The land for the library was donated to the city by the poet James Whitcomb Riley.