Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ellenberger Woods--1913/2013

The city of Indianapolis purchased several acres of woods from John Ellenberger for a city park in 1910.  The neighbors loved the forest and had been using it for years.  When it came time to pay for the site in the form of an assessment, some neighbors fell out of love and vociferously protested; however, the naysayers did not hold the day and Ellenberger Park remains a valuable green space in the twenty-first century.

Shortly after the purchase of the woods, the city hired landscape architect, George Kessler, to develop a boulevard system throughout Marion County.  One leg of his design included Pleasant Run Parkway.  Kessler envisioned a beautiful drive along the stream and he planned to incorporate the park into his plan.  As this photo demonstrates, Kessler clearcut most of the brush and trees near the stream.  In his vision, the driver or stroller would saunter down a lovely paved road and be able to see the meandering stream nearby.  Nature would be tightly controlled and yet be an integral part of the experience.

Ellenberger Park in 1913

Ellenberger Park in 2013

Path in Ellenberger Park in 2013

By 2013, a new vision had emerged.  Irvingtonians have spent much time replanting native trees, grasses, and flowers along the stream.  Like Kessler, they have strived to control nature by removing invasive species, a never-ending Sisyphean feat.  A special thanks to Bob Alloway for the use of this historic image.  Mr. Alloway has an extensive collection of historic postcards of Indianapolis and Irvington.

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