Canal Walk - Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS CANAL WALK & RIVER WHITE STATE PARK
Whether you live on the canal in one of the many condos or apartments, work downtown or are just visiting our fine city, there is something to peak everyone’s adventurous side on this 3 mile trail. Monuments tower over the water, paying homage to fallen heroes and historical game changers. Massive works of art dazzle the senses creating an air of creativity. Informational hubs strewn throughout the experience bring in both modern and monumental history to the canal. The Indianapolis Canal Walk has become a popular destination for Indianapolis residents and visitors. It can only be described as a picturesque, inner-city oasis where one can escape a hectic day in a serene setting. Wildlife is abundant, flowers fill the air with warm scents, and music can be heard at any time, whether it’s a concert on the canal, or the sweet lullaby of Italian love songs being resounded from the gondola attendants. A unique getaway that one can experience as an all-day venture or just a short break from the stresses of life, the canal offers to every individual a “full monty” of rich heritage and cultural diversity that is the beautiful city of Indianapolis.
The canal was originally intended as a means to connect central Indiana to the rest of the world of trade and commerce, much like the Erie Canal successfully did for New York. It was a 296 mile water pathway project called the Indiana Central Canal that would connect several existing canals together, running them through Indianapolis and on into the other canal states. Construction began on several sections of the canal in 1836. Unfortunately, The Panic of 1837 occurred, and was followed by a five year financial depression. This cut the funding to the project and eventually halted all progress in the year of 1839. Only eight miles of the canal was successfully supplied with water, running from Broad Ripple to the White River. The canal was sold in pieces to private owners and came into ownership of The Indianapolis Water Company in 1871, who built a pump house on the water to provide modern power to consumers. It was also used for a source of ice in the winters and attracted boat renters in search of recreation in the warmer months.
In the late 1960’s, the canal was forced underground to make way for an interstate road system, eliminating much of the remains, and threatening a total loss of the historical undertaking. So, in 1976, the Indianapolis Water Company deeded the portion of the canal south of 16th Street to the city of Indianapolis.
MODERN DAY: THE CANAL WALK
The deeded section of the canal, now known as The Indianapolis canal walk, was lowered, rebuilt and revamped to run from 11th Street to White River State Park as a recreational hotspot and a landmark of our city. It is a three mile looped track ordained with beautiful historic architecture, mechanical marvels, inspiring monuments, and a wide array of affordable activities including bike riding, Gondola rides, kayaking and paddle boating. For the less avid spender, the canal offers a plethora of permanent art exhibits and monuments, including the USS Indianapolis Monument, the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, featured art by Kyler Ragsdale, and a monument that reads, “We Will Never Forget” commemorating the September 11th attack on US soil. Old fashioned street lamps, well groomed trees and beautiful flowers line the water. Seating is provided abundantly along the trail, both public grassy blanket spots, and semi-secluded benches shaded with ivy wrapped trellises, creating a romantic atmosphere for all types. If solo venturing isn’t for you, try a Segway tour for an informational scenic introduction to the canal with a knowledgeable guide.
There are 11 well-spaced bridges on the canal, each one devoted to a particular movement or era in the history of Indiana, accompanied with vivid art and podiums providing fascinating success stories that have made our city what it is today. Most of the bridges are able to be walked across to the opposite side of the canal, giving you an opportunity to see a breathtaking above ground view of the trail as well as making it possible for you to enjoy the canal in whatever distance is comfortable for you.
WHITE RIVER STATE PARK
White River State Park is a 250 acre park that is separated into seven attractions, several which are accessible from the canal. The Lawn at White River State Park is host to many major festivals including RIB America and the Summer Jazz Festival, as well as several other concerts and events throughout the year. Victory Field is the home of the Indianapolis Indian’s baseball team. It is a lighted baseball stadium where people come to grab a hot dog and watch the evening game. The Indianapolis Zoo houses several rare animals and provides exciting exhibits including a dolphin show and an interactive shark petting aquarium. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art houses some of the most intriguing collections of Native American artifacts and cultural art from the old west. The Indiana History Center provides tours through the Indiana Experience, an interactive museum where people can experience living Indiana history through reconstructed scenes and passionate actors, taking you back into some of the most exciting historical events of our time. The Indiana State Museum boasts displays concerning the past present and future of our state. Tour the NCAA Hall of Champions to be inspired by Indiana’s athletic all-stars.
The vintage, old-world charm of the scenery makes this trail a popular events hub. Weddings and parties can be reserved on the canal’s website. Event spaces are limited, so booking must be made several weeks to months in advance. While most attractions do cost, there is an all-day pass available for purchase, online or in person that allows access to all attractions, making it possible to amplify your canal experience at an affordable price.
The Indianapolis Canal Walk truly is an oasis. With majestic waterfalls, historic overtures, and moving surroundings, as well as regular patrols and ample emergency stations, the canal is a fun, safe, family-friendly location that is an ever flowing testament of our wonderful city.