Part I: A Matter of Perspective

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Indiana...

Image via Wikipedia

After sharing chicken and waffles and catfish filets with old and new friends in one of our favorite downtown restaurants, I embarked on a “Sense Safari”. This time the intent was to experience a childhood memory through the sense of sight. Little did I suspect I was about to get an eye-full this afternoon and a boat load of memories were about to flow toward me.

I meandered around the streets of downtown Indianapolis, heading west on Market Street with no particular place to go in mind. I looked in the windows of the small store fronts along Market Street; an Arby’s restaurant, a newsstand and a Starbucks Coffee shop. Around the corner I found the Hilbert Theatre, home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and just beyond this place, the building that houses the headquarters of the Indianapolis Power & Light Building. The window decorations of the ISO and the P&L building were beautiful shades of blue, green and red. But I still wanted more.

Crossing the street in front of the P&L building, I found myself watching a man walking his dogs. What a cute sight as the adult female pit-bull and her little, white, pudgy, offspring puppy climbed the stairs on the south side of Monument Circle. The baby dog was barely able to climb those stairs and his round, stubby little body struggled with every step. But he made it! Lending moral support, I followed them at a distance, hopeful that the little pup would be able to clear the last of about 25 steps. Moments later, I reached the platform at the base of the memorial, and sat on the embanked side for a moment to catch my breath. Looking to the right, while getting my bearings, I noticed that the Observation Deck of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was open for business.

Should I? Why not? I decided to go in and investigate.

For the price of $2 I rode the elevator to the top of the memorial. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is 284 feet tall; I learned that it is a mere 15 feet short of the Statue of Liberty. On the ride up, in the claustrophobic  3’ X 3’ elevator, occasionally I could see buildings and sky flying by through the slit windows along the sides of the structure. Surely no more than 2 or 3 people could fit inside this little gear-driven box that squeaked and strained as it pulled me skyward.

Here I was alone. What if something happened and I became trapped forever at the top or even worse, somewhere between the first and the 32nd floor. But as usual, I worried for nought as I reached the top by elevator and then climbed about 15 or 20 more stairs to reach the Observation Deck without incident.

When I got to the landing, I walked to an enclosed platform that faced east. Although the sky had gone from bright, clear and sunny to partially overcast, I still had an amazing view of the city. The platform was a steel construction with “I” beams that jutted at 45 degree angles on all four sides to form a choo choo-train-red painted steel and concrete peak.  

First thing, I noticed window washers walking across scaffolding that hung from the top of a building while they cleaned the windows on the 10th or 11th floor of a building to the east of me. I know not its name. The horizon meets the sky about where Market Square Arena used to stand. It is now all parking lots and flat, ugly spaces. Why doesn’t the city do something about this?

Looking north, I was struck by the Chase Tower, a stately monstrosity of brick and mortar that sits on the northeast corner of Meridian and Ohio streets. It has simple yet comforting architecture that is striking and beautiful. The building is a combination of reddish marble and golden sheetrock, smooth on the surface. I imagine the surface of the building would be cold, even on the inside. Turning south, I find the condominiums at the Conrad hotel fascinate me. I saw at least 16 with open air balconies on both the north and south-facing sides of the upper floors of the hotel. Wonder how much money must be stuffed in a mattress to own one of these residences?

Hey, is that a helicopter pad on your roof, or are you just glad to see me???

Finally, I turned south to see Lucas Oil Stadium, the Convention Center and the magnificent J W Marriott; the largest J W Marriott in the world. All of it is within walking distance, just a couple of miles away. Our state capital building finished off the western corridor and I admired from this lofty height its copper-turned-green-in-the-rain dome.

Around it all is a circle of highway known as I-70 that picks up east to west and I-65 that picks up north to south depending on which way I face. And while I watched cars careening around the ring of the city, I’m struck by the thought of how important it is to from time to time change perspective.

To Be Continued . . . Part II: Thanks for the Memories

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