Indianapolis takes the prize for spending the most money on improving their downtown. Lucas Field, home to the Indianapolis Colts – brand new. Conseco Field – home to Indianapolis Pacers – brand new. A slew of sparkling museums, including the Eiteljorg, featuring Native American Art, Indiana History Museum, Indiana State Museum, and the massive NCAA Hall of Champions, showcasing college athletics.
Throw in a monstrous Convention Center that seems to occupy four square blocks, along with the upscale hotels serving the conventioneers – a Westin and a Sheraton, at least four Marriotts, and an Omni – all recently built.
Still, the most impressive element of this redevelopment is the canal that bisects town for a couple miles – an area fitting called the ‘Canal District’. Azure water lined with wide sidewalks, where people of all ages jog, stroll, rent paddle boats, sit on the benches, or amazingly take a ride in a gondola (for a pricy $150). I was OK up to the gondola part.
Apartments and lofts occupy much of the canal side real estate, with surprisingly little in the way of cafes and outdoor restaurants. Along the way, fountains of unique design spew water into the canal. Halfway through, there is an outdoor memorial to the 3,459 Medal of Honor winners, with each honoree etched into a glass display, arranged by major conflict (going back to the Civil War). Background audio plays 24 hours a day, relating stories told by many of the recipients. Amazingly, 19 people haved received this medal twice (only one woman has ever been given the Medal of Honor).
At one end of the canal is Indiana University Medical School, where our nephew Danny attends his third year of medical school, while the other terminates downtown, along the way passing by the museums described above.
We visited the Eiteljorg Museum (nice Western art with Native-American themes), and the state capital building, walked the canal, and enjoyed this rebuilt urban mecca. However, growing up with Johnny Unitas (number 19 in black high tops) and the real Baltimore Colts, it is difficult for me to accept the wayward, re-branded Indianapolis Colts. Too bad, since I love Peyton Manning.
Finally, marketing Indianapolis, with the newly built canals, as something mimicing Venice, is maybe not such a good idea. It is pleasant enough to walk along the waterways without the obviously miscast Venetian gondoleers – and could we have a few more restaurants or open-air cafes along the water, please?