Here in Indianapolis, we love our monuments. Not long ago, I learned that Indianapolis is second only to Washington, D.C. in the number of monuments in our downtown area memorializing our war heroes; in fact, someone told me it was why we saw “so many German visitors in Indianapolis.” I don’t know if any of that is true–the parts about lots of German visitors or the fact that they like war memorials, I mean. We definitely have lots of monuments in Indianapolis.

It’s also definitely true that our most prominent and famous landmark–the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument–was designed by Bruno Schmitz, a renowned German designer of national monuments. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument has lived at the center of Monument Circle in the heart of Indianapolis since 1902. It stands 284’6″ tall–just 21 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty. At the top stands Lady Victory–herself 38 feet tall and weighing in at 19,300 pounds. It’s been estimated that building a similar structure today would cost half a billion dollars.

At the 1902 dedication of the Soldiers' and Sailor' Monument.

It’s an amazing work of art that also happens to be at the very center of our public life. Monument Circle is the most important public place in Indianapolis. We celebrate here. We rally here. We bring our guests here. We’ve been doing so for more than a century.

So it’s pretty cool that, here in Indianapolis, we’re talking about the future of Monument Circle. No, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument isn’t going anywhere. But right now, a bunch of organizations, including the State of Indiana, The City of

Indianapolis, Central Indiana Community Foundation, and Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., have partnered to create theĀ Monument Circle Idea Competition to solicit thoughts, plans, and dreams about what Monument Circle could be. Oh, and there’s a $5,000 first prize for the winning entry.

Monument Circle today, dolled up for the holidays.

The competition is looking for entries from designers, architects, urban planners, and big thinkers from Indianapolis, across the country, and around the world. There’s a $30 fee for an official entry, so it’s a serious deal.

But the competition is also interested in everybody’s ideas. They’ve created a blog where you can add ideas of your own; in fact, over the next six weeks or so, the stakeholders are looking to gather a thousand ideas about Monument Circle and its future.

And not just design ideas. What sort of programming should be there? What kinds of attractions? What should people be able to do there? How does that incredible Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument fit into the next century?

Don’t be shy. Add your ideas here. Better yet, add them at the Monument Circle Idea Competition blog. And help a great American City envision the future of its most public place.

Want a little inspiration? Check out this video that does a beautiful job of showing off our downtown monuments.

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