Sunday, June 1, 2014

Soldiers and Sailors Monument: Indianapolis, Indiana

Central to downtown Indianapolis is Monument Circle, with the focal point being the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which was dedicated in 1902. The structure is built on a site originally laid out for the Governor's Mansion, which was completed in 1827. That building was later demolished and during the Civil War it was first suggested that a memorial be built on the site to honor those who were dying while protecting the Union.

The cornerstone was laid in 1889 and completed at a cost of $600,000, built of gray oolitic limestone from the quarries of Owen County, Indiana. The foundation is 30 feet in depth while the height from street level to top of the Victory statue is just 15 feet shorter the Statue of Liberty.

Among the ornate statues that decorate the tower are  bronze statues of James Whitcomb, Indiana's Governor during the Mexican War and Oliver P. Morton, Governor during the Civil War and a statue of George Rogers Clark. Additional limestone figures of a calvary scout and infantryman sit near the entrance.

A beautiful, historic tribute to those who served prior to World War I, the monument beams among the modern buildings that surround the circle.

The circle is a hub of activity where you can catch a ride on horse carriage, watch street performers or pick up a bite from a food truck. The massive steps are a great spot to stop and take in the beauty of the city from this nostalgic backdrop.

I was excited on a visit this year to finally have a chance to head up to the observation deck, 231 feet above ground where you can marvel at the city with an awesome birds-eye view. The deck is enclosed in glass and can be reached by climbing the 331 steps. You can also take the elevator (for a minimal fee), which takes you up near the top. You have to finish the climb on a few narrow steps that spiral toward the top. Admission to the monument is free.

You can also visit the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum that is housed in the lower level. It highlights Indiana's contributions to the war, giving a sense of the living conditions and sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. There is no entrance fee, but donations are welcome.

Horse carriages often line the circle waiting for riders.

A view from the top.

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