The Indiana War Memorial, known more formally as the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District, was constructed in the very center of downtown Indianapolis and doubles as a stunning entrance to the commercial sector of the city from the north. The plaza and all its installations were created to honor those who fought for the values of America and to inspire patriotism in all who visit them.
On the Indiana War Memorial grounds, which occupy a full six city blocks, there are three parks and some 24 acres of awe-inspiring statues, monuments, fountains and sculptures. Inside are two large war museums and the American Legion’s state and national headquarters.
Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument
This installation is considered one of the premiere landmarks in the state. It is a 285-tall memorial honoring Indiana war heroes from the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish American War. An observation area on the top, reached by elevator, is a popular destination for visitors seeking for a bird’s-eye view of the metropolis. This monument contains the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, with 9,000 square feet of fascinating exhibits of the Civil War period. Colonel Eli Lilly, who distinguished himself in the Civil War, went on to found Eli Lilly and Company, now a super-powerhouse among the world’s pharmaceutical groups.
University Park – This gracious park is the physical entryway to the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Parks and comprises most of the exterior plaza. Used originally for war maneuver practice and drills, it was not made into a people’s park until 1876. The Depew Fountain is its crown jewel, but there are many other impressive pieces of statuary, including a monument to Abraham Lincoln and one of famous Indianapolis resident U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.
The Indiana War Memorial Museum is the centerpiece of the IWM. It consists of an enormous shrine, constructed in a Neoclassical Greek style. Its exterior is punctuated by various pieces of sculpture and five long, rectangular windows decorated by huge, sculpted columns. Inside, there are three levels containing some of the most fascinating war memorabilia in the country, and some of the most moving. The Shrine Room, on the top floor under a large domed ceiling, is one of the prime Indianapolis attractions, not to be missed.
The Veterans Memorial Plaza, also called Obelisk Square, features a large fountain out of which rises a 100-foot obelisk. Made of black granite, this simple yet somehow awesome obelisk symbolizes the continuity of all life, including the life of a nation. Flags from each state of the nation wave proudly on the north side of the park. The plaza has become a major meeting place for informal and formal gatherings.
The American Legion Plazacontains the national and state headquarters of the American Legion in two buildings separated by the Sunken Garden/Cenotaph Square, which is the plaza’s signature memorial piece. Three monolithic columns on the plaza honoring Hoosier veterans are the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.
The USS Indianapolis Memorial was built by that cruiser ship’s crew which remained after it was sunk in 1945, taking many of their shipmates with it. It took them 50 years of tireless effort to complete the job. This memorial is situated outside on the Canal Walk’snorth edge. It is a simple yet moving representation of a ship, with a memorial wall as its body.
Tours are given regularly on weekdays by the Indiana War Memorials Commission. Groups are welcome and should pre-register for an optimal experience of this magnificent facility.
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm
Seal at the Indiana War Memorial Plaza
War Memorial museum on the plaza downtown
Flags on the park at the American Legion Mall
World War II Memorial downtown
Another view of the World War II monument downtown
Korean War Monument downtown
Sculptures on the Indiana War Memorial Plaza
Indiana War Memorial Plaza Parks
431 N Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46204
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