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Indianapolis Parks Department Landscape Architectural Records Collection

Identifier: DADA-040

Scope and Contents

Approximately 50 cubic feet of drawings, presentation panels, "Damage Assessment Rolls," and other records for over 200 Indianapolis parks, parkways, golf courses, bridges, boulevards, playgrounds, stadiums, and other public facilities managed by the Indianapolis Parks Department, 1898-1988. Well documented are Brookside Parkway, Fall Creek Boulevard, Kessler Boulevard, Garfield Park, and Pleasant Run Parkway.


  • 1898 - 1988


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Drawings and Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Drawings and Documents Archive.

Biographical Note

Early efforts at creating city parks in Indianapolis can be traced back to the early 1860s. As the city developed, citizens became concerned over the loss of recreational areas and urged the city council to set aside land for public parks. The city council was suspicious of this movement in the beginning, but by the 1870s public momentum spurred them to acquire several properties. For the next two decades, private citizen involvement joined forces with the city to improve these few parks with plantings and playgrounds.

In 1895, the city council created a public park commission to develop a public park system for Indianapolis. Several nationally recognized landscape architects were consulted to guide the development of the parks, including John C. Olmstead and George E. Kessler. In the first decade of the 20th century, over 1,100 acres of land were purchased to implement park plans. Much of the land from this purchase is today part of Riverside Park. Although both World Wars and the Great Depression slowed the progression of development, the city park services grew to accommodate a wide variety of recreational facilities such as wading pools, community club centers, and playgrounds.

The Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation was created in the 1970s. It is organized into five divisions: Administration, Eagle Creek, Golf, Parks Management, and Recreation. They now claim over 73 properties, 16 community recreation centers, 13 pools, and 12 golf courses. Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve, covering 4,500 acres and one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, attracts almost 300,000 visitors each year.


50 Cubic Feet (24 rolled drawings boxes, 5 OVB boxes, 1 OVC box)


The Indianapolis Parks Department Landscape Architectural Records are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

The Indianapolis Parks Department Landscape Architectural Records were received by Drawings and Documents Archive as a donation from Don Colvin, President, Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation in 1998.


No additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed. Finding aid created 2005/4/28 by Daniel Hartwig; revised 2011/11/1 by Julie Edwards; revised 2012/2/21 by Carol Street.

Indianapolis Parks Department Landscape Architectural Records
Created by Daniel Hartwig; revised by Julie Edwards in 2011 and by Carol Street in 2012.
Created 2005/4/28; revised 2011/11/1 and 2012/2/21.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Andrew Seager Archives of the Built Environment Repository

Architecture Building, Room 120
Muncie IN 47306 USA
765-285-3726 (Fax)