Downtown Indianapolis, believe it or not, has something in common with the City of Love aka. Paris. (France that is … because for those non Hoosiers in the house, there happens to be a little town in Indiana by the name of Paris. Who knew?)
In the center of Indianapolis, is a two-lane roundabout (designed in part by a French architect) that not only resembles the many circular driving patterns found in Paris but also has “legs” extending to various sections of the city; directly north, south, east and west. The circle used to be the site of the Governor’s mansion but was torn down in 1857. Today, the center of the city is marked by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument—the first war memorial built in honor of the common soldier.
Completed at the turn of the 20th century, the limestone statue stands a mere 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty and is the focal point of downtown Indy. But while it’s a sight not to be missed, what many don’t realize is that the foundation rests on top of a 9,000 square foot Civil War museum filled with memorabilia and exhibits describing the war and how it impacted people throughout the state of Indiana.
The monument’s cornerstone, laid August 22, 1889, contains a copper box filled with
memorabilia including a list of all Indiana soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War, replicas of the state’s two constitutions, a thirty-eight-star American flag, and other items donated by the Grand Army of the Republic, the Women’s Relief Corps, the Sons of the Republic, and others.
FACT: There is no other city in the country—outside Washington D.C.—that has more monuments dedicated to our veterans and war dead.
So when you visit Indy, make sure you take the time not only for a great photo opp at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, but also explore the surrounding area, read the inscriptions, and pay homage to the men and women who served our country, and who will continue to do so in the future.