1820

Founding of Indianapolis.  Pioneer John McCormick, one of the first settlers of Indianapolis, builds his cabin where the White River and Fall Creek meet.

 

1822

Indianapolis’ first documented Fourth of July celebration in what is now known as Historic Military Park.

 

1831

The steamboat, Robert Hanna, is the first to make it to Indianapolis using the White River.  It runs aground on its return trip, proving the river is not navigable enough to be a major trade route.

 

1836

Development of the (Historic) Central Canal begins.  This waterway is planned as a trade route for commercial goods.  However, construction stalls and only nine (9) miles are built from downtown Indianapolis heading north to the nearby Broad Ripple Village.

 

1852

Indiana’s 1st State Fair is held at (Historic) Military Park.

 

1861

(Historic) Military Park is used as a Civil War encampment until 1865.

 

1870

The (Historic) Pumphouse opens, providing pressurized water for drinking and fire protection to the majority of the city of Indianapolis.  This is especially helpful to local industry.

 

1913

A flood devastates the area, killing 200 people.  City officials attempt to contain the river with concrete floodwalls and earthen levees.

 

1916

The Washington Street Bridge opens.  Designed by renowned bridge designer Daniel B. Luton, it is part of the National Road (U.S. 40).  The National Road is a major thoroughfare, linking the east and west coasts of the United States of America.

 

1920′s – 1950′s

Factories fill the banks of the White River.  Meatpacking, paper mills, and flourmills are just some of the industries located along the White River.

 

1950′s

City officials begin re-examining the White River and the potential for waterfront development.

 

1960′s

Factories along Washington Street begin moving out, leaving in large part because of the growth of Indianapolis’ new urban university — Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

 

1969

The Indianapolis Water Company closes the (Historic) Pumphouse.

 

1971

The (Historic) Central Canal is dedicated as an American Water Landmark by the American Water Association.

 

1976

The (Historic) Pumphouse and surrounding property, in excessive disrepair after being abandoned, is gifted to the City of Indianapolis.

 

1979

The Indiana General Assembly creates the 10-member, governor appointed, White River (State) Park Development Commission.  Several of the early obstacles facing them were the relocation of Washington Street — so it would not run through the center of the Park — and acquisition of deteriorating factories and property.

 

1980

The Historic Pumphouse is accepted into the National Registry of Historic Places.

 

1988

The Indianapolis Zoo opens at White River State Park.

 

1989

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art opens at White River State Park.

 

1994

The Washington Street Bridge renovation begins.  The original exterior structure and arches are retained.  The facelift leaves a beautiful pedestrian walkway between Park attractions on the west and the east banks of the White River.

 

1996

Victory Field, home of Indianapolis Indians baseball, opens at White River State Park.  The $20 million dollar (Historic) Central Canal extension is completed.  The IMAX Theater, Indiana’s first (and still largest), opens at White River State Park.

 

1999

The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial is dedicated and opens at White River State Park.  The Indianapolis Zoo adds a botanical garden and observatory — White River Gardens.  White River State Park begins a biennial “Sculptures in the Park” program to showcase Indiana (and regional) artists.  This two-year program makes art accessible and free to all visitors of the Park.  The sculptures are for sale by the associated artists.

 

2000

The NCAA® Hall of Champions opens at White River State Park.

 

2002

The (new) Indiana State Museum opens at White River State Park.

2003

The Beveridge Paper Company site demolition and the infrastructure to connect all of the Park’s attractions were completed.  This phase included the greenspaces now called Celebration Plaza, The Oval, The (Governor’s) Lawn, and more.  The Dr. Frank P. Lloyd, Sr. Visitor’s Center was completed as well.  These spaces were dedicated in August of this year.  The first concert at The Lawn at White River State Park was held in conjunction with the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association.  This concert featured Carrie Newscomer and Steve Wariner.  Governor Frank O’Bannon died a month later, and the Commission voted to rename The Lawn as The Governor’s Lawn in honor of this event.

 

2004

The Lawn at White River State Park continues a successful outdoor concerts series.  Since opening in 2003, featured performances by top musicians include: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Lyle Lovett, The Allman Brothers Band, George Benson, Ben Folds, The Roots, Trey Anastasio, String Cheese Incident, O.A.R., Indigo Girls, Huey Lewis and the News, 311, Guster, Chris Robinson (of the Black Crowes), Matisyahu, Keller Williams, Rufus Wainwright, Will Downing, and Paul Thorn – to name a few.

 

2005

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art 47,000 square foot expansion opens that includes expanded gallery space, a state-of-the-art education facility, a performance/special event area, and dining restaurant – doubling the Museum’s square footage.  Highlights include adding the Mel and Joan Perelman Wing and three new galleries and the outdoor art sculpture court. The Indianapolis Zoo opens the new Dolphin Adventure. This fully-submerged dome allows visitors a 360 degree view of the mammals. The Zoo also began offering in-water experiences, taking participants waist deep in the water and face to face with the dolphins.

 

2006

The Deserts Dome at the Indianapolis Zoo reopens in May following a renovation and expansion.  A new permanent exhibit, “Meerkats,” opens in conjunction with the renovated Deserts Dome.

 

2007

The Indianapolis Zoo opens The Oceans exhibit and shark petting experience.  Future additions include a new biosphere for Gorillas.

 

2008

The Lawn at White River State Park continues fan experiences upgrades for the outdoor concerts series.  The Lawn at White River State Park enhances accommodations for over 7,000 people per concert.

 

2009

The Park initially partners with Urban Earth Indy (Growing Places Indy) and Big City Farms to create and manage a 6,000 square foot (organic and urban slow food) garden at the Park’s cross-point.  This provides opportunities for visitors to observe and engage in a working urban farm.  Each crop variety is chosen based on at least one of these distinctions: 1) suitable to urban growing conditions; 2) promotes Indiana’s crop biodiversity and/or sustainable farm practices; 3) heirloom, rare, or endangered that preserves agricultural and/or socio-cultural heritage; 4) more.

 

2010

The Lawn at White River State Park continues fan experiences upgrades for the outdoor concerts series.  The Lawn at White River State Park enhances accommodations for over 8,000 people per concert.

 

2011

The WISHARD Growing Places Indy Slow Food Garden at White River State Park continues the mission to cultivate the culture of urban agriculture and healthy lifestyles, empowering individuals and communities to Grow well, Eat well, Live well and Be well.

2012

The NCAA® Headquarters expansion opens.  FREE Shakespeare on the Canal at White River State Park returns with “Othello” performed by Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre (HART)!