History of White River Gardens
River Gardens was the first major development undertaken by the
Indianapolis Zoological Society since the Zoo opened at its
present location in 1988. It is located adjacent to the White
River levee that flanks the eastside of the Zoo and extends
south to Washington Street and north to the main Zoo entrance.
The Zoo and the Gardens share the same main entrance at 1200
West Washington Street and the same parking lot. The
Gardens was a separate attraction from 1999 to 2006, but it is
now included as part of the Indianapolis Zoo.
donations and grants, the $14+ million plus project broke ground
in October 1997 and opened on June 13, 1999. White River Gardens
includes a glass-enclosed conservatory; outdoor design gardens;
water garden; a wedding garden for ceremonies and receptions; a gift shop;
paths and walkways; and, an indoor/outdoor dining facility with
a dramatic view of the downtown skyline and the riverfront.
complements current downtown and White River State Park
developments, including continuing the momentum of downtown
development through the Central Waterfront Project. White
River Gardens, along with other projects such as the NCAA
national headquarters, the Indiana State Museum, Conseco
Fieldhouse and others, secure downtown’s appeal as an
entertainment destination for visitors, enhance the city’s
already solid reputation as a convention destination, and create
additional appeal for new downtown businesses and residents.
renovation of the old Washington Street Bridge and improvements
along the “zoo reach,” (the land on the west levee of White
River between the old Washington Street Bridge and Washington
Street), White River Gardens is accessible from the east side of
the Park, as well as from the Zoo's current parking lot. The
Gardens ultimately will also be accessible through the city of
Indianapolis’ ever-expanding greenways system.
Ernstberger Associates in conjunction with Woollen, Molzan and
Partners, Moore Engineers, TT-CBM Engineers and Lynch, Harrison
and Brumleve, Inc., the team selected to design the new
facility, worked very hard to get every detail for the garden
planned. In October 1997, the firm of Hagerman Construction
Company was named general contractor for the project. The
designers intended to present traditional garden elements in a
contemporary way, and White River Gardens is not the traditional
garden that most people imagine. While visitors will recognize a
traditional formality in the Garden design, they will find much
of the detail refreshingly new. It's really more of an “idea”
garden where visitors can see and experience innovative garden
displays and gather information so that they can duplicate some
of the ideas at home.
the Indianapolis Zoo
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