About the Post

Author Information

Tania is currently the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker and an Associate Editor at Womanista. With past writing credits as a freelance writer and journalist with Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), and NBC News' Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists—one of the oldest organizations in the US that promotes and represents journalists. As a writer by vocation and entrepreneur by nature, Tania is a life long learner who enjoys traveling and meeting new people. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley, and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and road-tripping across the great United States. She is currently attending Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and studying journalism. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Sleepless in Indianapolis: A Walk Through Circle City

Road trip enthusiast and Hoosier at heart, Tania Hussain traveled south to Indianapolis this past summer and takes readers on a tour through her experiences in the famed Circle City, in the first part of her two-part series exclusive to The Hudsucker.

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The Soldiers and Sailors Monument situated in Monument Circle, Indianapolis. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

Call it wanderlust but I’ve always felt traveling is the key to personal purpose and living. Traveling is more than just escaping your day-to-day life. It serves a definite cultural purpose in life, not to escape from it but to live through it, and learn much about man and other people. Traveling and seeing places is an important part of one’s education; seeing a sight and wandering off, exploring surroundings—it’s about that transformation you can feel inside of you upon discovery. The experience one gains through traveling and meeting different people provides an entirely different meaning and knowledge that one cannot get through reading alone.

I’ve been told by my parents that I was the kind of kid who literally grew up running before I could walk because I was so eager to be on the move and explore the world around me. Growing up it always felt like summer was the longest season and that those sunny weeks, accompanied by flawless blue skies and a snug humid haze would delicately envelope one day into the other with genuine amusement. Some afternoons found me playing in our backyard for hours at a time, or walking around the creek near my home and discovering new things; while some evenings found me sitting on my porch as the crisp cool summer wind would blow my pigtails into a loose mess while counting stars in the moonlit night sky. It was endless fun for me and at times I wish I could go back to such a point, but the reality is that time trickles by and life evolves. In that process we tend to lose sight of ourselves, of who we are, and the ever-lasting excitement of exploration.

However, this past August I got to relive that kind of childhood nostalgia in the gorgeous city of Indianapolis! I felt like a big kid running around the city and discovering history and culture amidst lavish architecture, and all while interacting with “Hoosiers”. At one moment I literally spun around while in awe of Monument Circle, situated in the heart of the city and though it was a moment straight out of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I didn’t get to toss a hat in the air. I just could not believe I was in Indy and it was a time that I would never trade for anything because it was not only a fun experience, but pure adrenaline excitement. For this, I am ever so grateful to the city, the hospitable residents and the amazing staff at the Visit Indy tourism board.

The Indianapolis Canal Walk from the Indiana State Museum. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

Forbes and Livability ranked Indianapolis as one of the best downtowns in the United States, mentioning an abundance of retail shops and hotels; to restaurants and food options, to theaters, sports venues, museums, art galleries and parks. It’s all very true too. The city has a wondrous opulance of sights and sounds, and though at times it can be overwhelming to absorb so much in a week, it is a very exciting adventure for thirsty culture savvy travelers like myself. Each night I would turn into my cozy hotel bed and be ever so eager and excited for the next day to arrive. It would literally take me hours to get to sleep because I would sleep in expectation and anticipation of what tomorrow would bring in a city like Indy! What would I see and learn? What would I love? Who would I meet? Exploring cities and their neighborhoods, mingling with residents—all of it is something that I adore and throughout the week, I was fortunate enough to quench my wanderlust.

On my itinerary I was able to explore Indy by foot throughout the week, indulge in fine dining, check out four museums, and squeeze in some shopping at three different malls while exhausting my wallet on a majority of Colts, IU and Notre Dame merchandise.

Walking around the buzzing metropolis, also known as Circle City was the utmost fun! Personally, I love going on walks in new places and this city takes top honors. Discovering the city’s culture through the sumptuous architecture and history was breathtaking, and though at times it felt almost foreign, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen on my road trips throughout North America.

After my visit to the Indiana State Museum, one of the first places I knew I had to check out was the White River State Park and Canal Walk located on West Washington Street. It’s literally just a step away from the museum. The Canal Walk stretches north through White River State Park to 11th Street and is a great recreational asset to the downtown community, acting as a waterside promenade for tourists, runners, walkers and cyclists. It’s a place that becomes immediately amiable to the senses as it’s quiet and peaceful, yet fun and brings a great relaxation to the hustle and bustle of our active lives. At the time of visiting, I wasn’t aware of the reserved gondola rides tourists and residents could book, but I’m excited I can go around my bucket list and fulfill such a wish with Indy’s clever canal travels! Lying back, relaxing and watching the gorgeous views of the city on a gondola, while a Gondolier serenades you in Venetian stylings adds a great charm and romanticism to the whole feel of visiting Indy. Of course, I would be so excited and break out into Fred Astaire’s “Cheek to Cheek” while on a gondola because that too is on my bucket list, but one thing at a time.

The Indiana Statehouse is the state capitol building of the state of Indiana. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

Moving east on West Washington Street is the Indiana Statehouse, a lavish attraction, bordering mid-century Parisian posture. The Statehouse is classic architecture at its best; constructed of limestone, white oak and other materials used from the state, it’s an impressive statement marking Indiana’s fingerprint. It is one of the largest capitol buildings in the United States and remains one of the most important Neo-Classical Revival buildings in the state of Indiana, sitting on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a gorgeous palatial structure with quiet grounds that are well-maintained and green, abundant with artworks surrounding the mature building. I will mention I was chased by a large tree squirrel while admiring the exterior of the Statehouse on the lawn. Is this something the squirrels do in Indiana? At one point I was backed into a tree by this squirrel, but I’m sure it was all within reason because I did have a brownie in my purse and well, who doesn’t love brownies?

There are about 40 public artworks on display inside and around the grounds of the Statehouse, along with the Indiana Government Centers North and South. There are sculptures all over, but the most visible ones are positioned on the east and south lawns. Noteworthy artworks include the statue of George Washington; a pedestal remaining from the Robert Dale Owen Memorial which is made of three stone blocks and has a commemorative plaque as the bronze portrait bust has been missing since 1970; a bronze statue of Thomas A. Hendricks, the 21st Vice President of the United States; and my personal favorite, the Oliver P. Morton Monument located at the main entrance of the Statehouse which overlooks West Market Street’s entrance to Monument Circle, and the famed Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

Known as the heart of Indianapolis, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument stands tall in Monument Circle. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

An essential spot all travelers must take a look at is the heart of the city: Monument Circle, the city’s majestic anchor that connects the importance of history to residents, while maintaining traditions. In many ways, it serves as the focal point not just of the city or downtown, but the whole of Indiana because it’s expressively unique and one of a kind. When I first set my eyes on Monument Circle from the Indiana Statehouse, I cheered and in some ways felt like that kid at Christmas who is highly ecstatic even before unwrapping their presents. From the distance you could see this gorgeously structured monument but as you get closer, you can’t help but gasp at the massive grandeur such a monument can even hold.

Situated at the core of it all, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is a 284 ft tall neoclassical monument designed by German architect, Bruno Schmitz that was built from 1887 to 1902. The limestone monument includes tall sculptures on all four sides, created by Rudolf Schwartz; a figure sits atop the monument and is known as Lady Victory or what locals endearingly call her, “Miss Indiana” and two astragals created by George Brewster; and an Army astragal created by Nicolaus Geiger. One of the really interesting things is you can either walk up the staircase (which is great exercise and well worth the walk up) or take the elevator to the top of the monument and absorb a breathtaking view high above, around the city. It was truly stunning to see everything surrounding the monument and the city landscapes from afar.

Around the monument stands marvelously intact bronze statues reflecting Indiana’s participation in war and the four leaders who stood for the state: William Henry Harrison, first governor of the Indiana Territory and general during the War of 1812 and future 9th President of the United States; James Whitcomb, governor of Indiana during the Mexican-American War; George Rogers Clark, military conqueror of the Old Northwest; and Oliver Morton, governor during the Civil War.

What I loved most about Monument Circle was the easy-going mood from everyone around. Even though there are shops and businesses surrounding the monument—and one very tempting South Bend Chocolate Company: Chocolate Cafe—people would be sitting on the steps of the monument, reading, eating their lunches, and having meetings or even be on a date, and it just held such idealistic romanticism of a humble city with genuine heart. I couldn’t help but be completely smitten with the overall character. It looked no different from any European city center with impressive buildings and statues.

An aerial view of the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza from the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

Going north on North Meridian Street found the appreciative traveler in me heading by foot towards the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza. It’s a very humbling trek and because the grounds are so large, you do want to take your time here, which is why I recommend very comfy shoes to take along with you. The history and culture surrounding the plaza is a great reflection of the state’s character and an honorable representation of Indy’s dedication to those who served. The cubical structure of the World War Memorial Building is an architecturally wondrous sight and in some ways, looks like Turkey’s Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. However, that being said, it doesn’t mean the building has none of its own character or depth—far from it! The building is its own, constructed from genuine Indiana limestone and stands on a raised terrace with an extraordinarily wide colossal staircase. Rocky could work out there, it’s that epic! The stairs can look intimidating at times, but there is a museum past the staircase that reveres to the contributions of those who stood for the state. There are shield-bearing limestone lions on the north and south entrances, with urns sitting on each corner of the terrace, that you can’t help but wonder signify strength, loyalty and undying love. Standing proudly on a pink granite base on the south side is Pro Patria, depicting a young man draped in the American flag and reaching heavenward. It’s a sculpture that embodies the American soldier and epitomizes perseverance and hope. The whole area is exceptionally pleasant to walk around and sight-see, especially when strolling towards University Park.

University Park is located between New York Street and Vermont Street at the famed Indiana World War Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. Occupying the southernmost block of the plaza, the stunning landscaped park is enchanting and very distinguished with a collection of statues and sculptures decorating the lawns. I took some time to just sit on a bench, soaking in some sun while observing the beauty around me (and I don’t mean the IMPD officers—at least not this time) and it really was an ever-so pleasant break from my march around the city.

The Depew Memorial Fountain located in University Park in downtown Indianapolis. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

Adorning the lawns of University Park are various sculptures and statues honoring Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Abraham Lincoln, one that is greatly reminiscent of the one in Washington, D.C; and an astonishing center piece accenting the gardens known as the Depew Memorial Fountain. I’ve seen my share of fountains and this was a rather lovely one with great attention to detail. Composed of multiple bronzed figures on pink granite, the sculptures depict children playing in the water among frogs and fish, along with a toga-wrapped woman on the topmost tier playing cymbals and watching over them. It’s a lively, yet graceful piece of art work that is a definite sight for tourists and one of my favorites now. A memorial plaque is located on the south side of the fountain and reads:

“A gift to Indianapolis from Emma Ely Depew in memory of her husband Richard Johnson Depew M.D. whose long and honorable life was spent in untiring service to his fellow men.”

The next spot I traveled to is a rather unhistorical one, unless you count the Peyton Manning posters on sale, nearly 80% off at the Colts Pro Shop in Circle Center or the end of season sale on T-shirts at the Forever 21 in the Castleton Square Mall. I won’t get into it but I will mention I shopped, as the saying goes, till I dropped in three malls throughout the week including The Fashion Mall at Keystone, and drooled on the shoe department at the last remaining Nordstrom in the State.

With that said, I did drop back to my hotel bed with the biggest smile on my face despite that burning sensation in my feet from all the walking. Walking around the city was a dream come true and as silly as it might sound, I left a piece of my heart in each spot I traveled to and in return, took a piece back with me.

One of the best feelings of being in Indianapolis is that there are many surprises in-store for everyone who visits the city because these aren’t your typical sights. Each one means something so different than the other, yet they all connect in this great sort of inspiring and celebratory way. Indiana has a rich culture and history, and walking through the city by foot has been one of my favorite things because I kind of feel like I’m at home. One tends to absorb the sights, sounds and smells of the city much better up close walking through it, as opposed to driving. It’s a captivating city with such warmth and soul and this quality is evident in each person I met and conversed with while on my trail through Indy.

Visiting the Visit Indy offices this past August in downtown Indianapolis! Left to right: Mary Bombei, Jeff Robinson, myself and Evan Strange. Image Credit: Tania Hussain

It’s a city I would love to spend more than a week in and fully immerse myself, which means I will definitely be returning in the days ahead. Like a song that never ends, the city’s melody and vibrant life lingers on even today in my heart and eyes which is why I still feel there was so much more to see and walk through, and of course, experience and feel. Time plays the coin of our life—what’s most important is how you spend it, so you’re able to invest in more next time around.

It would be a remiss not to mention the cooperation and hospitality extended to me by the ever gracious Visit Indy staff, particularly Jeff Robinson, Director of Marketing and Evan Strange, Marketing & Communications Coordinator. It was a memorable experience and their kindness and congeniality proves that with their dynamism, the team is poised to take the city of Indianapolis to greater heights.

Stayed tuned next week for the second part of “Sleepless in Indianapolis” where Tania explores four very impressive and illustrious museums of Indy.

Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!
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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sleepless in Indianapolis: A Walk-Through Circle City | westlifebunny - March 30, 2013

    […] Continue reading… […]

  2. Sleepless in Indianapolis: Museums In and Around Circle City | The Hudsucker - April 4, 2013

    […] Last week, our very own Hoosier at heart explored the famed Circle City in the first of her two-part series, “Sleepless in Indianapolis”, taking readers on a thorough walk through the city. In the conclusion, she reviews four different museums she had the opportunity to travel to in Indy and sums up a memorable summer experience. […]

  3. Adobo Grill: A Mexican Fiesta in the Heart of Indy | The Hudsucker - April 4, 2013

    […] lush city of Indianapolis. While on my trip, not only was I taking in the many sights and sounds by walking around the city or visiting museums, but I was indulging in fine dining in and around Circle City. One such […]

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