100th post for 2009: In praise of Monument Circle

In this blog, I have spent a good deal of time talking about areas for improvement and new proposals. However, I have not properly addressed the place that works best in this city, Monument Circle.

  • It is the historic focal point that basically shuns most of the traffic-based planning decisions that have been common throughout the rest of the city.
  • The bricks, along with the tall Monument itself, cause a visual cue for vehicles to slow down.
  • There are no stop signs, or traffic lights.
  • Many of the buildings that face the Monument curve to provide a wall, to make it feel like you are in an outdoor living room.
  • The Monument is, of course, exquisitely carved, and approaches its subjects with appropriate reverence.
  • Pedestrians feel at ease in crossing the street.

Not everything is perfect, of course. It could use more street-level retail. The building that replaced the English Opera House should be taller, more attractive, or both. But on the whole, it is the type of space that proves that Indianapolis is capable of providing a quality, human-scaled environment.

Comments 6

  • I don't disagree, in general, but I really do wish the city would stop it with the "World's Largest Christmas Tree" business during the holidays. I say this as someone who loves Christmas and especially Christmas trees, but it would be better called the "World's Largest Defacement of a War Memorial." It's really pretty offensive if you think about it for too long…

  • That is a decent point. I can't really quibble with it.

  • …and people call ME a Scrooge!

    There's no reason to jettison all old corny traditions. This time of year, it's kind of nice to see bright lights at 5:30pm instead of gray gloom.

  • They are temporary, so there is that. I really don't have an opinion on it one way or the other, to be honest.

  • Maybe if they could actually add some more garland or greenery horizonatlly across the lights, it would then be more of a xmas tree, and prevent the lights from swaying too much in high wind. I like it though. My family comes in to town over the holidays and they always enjoy going down there and sitting underneath and looking up at the Worlds Tallest Xmas Lit Monument.

  • Okay, leaving aside the World's Largest (but-not-quite) Christmas Tree, I'd like to address the building in the northwest quadrant of the circle, formerly the home of the English Opera House. It always impressed me that Mansur Development took pains to mimic the proportion and fenestration of the English Opera House. There really are a number of cues in the building to hark back to its predecessor. Which is actually quite a feat as I believe the building is built around the shell of the former JCPenney department store, which shared no cues (other than location) with its predecessor.

    (From a former Indianapolis resident now living in Massachusetts)

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