Indianapolis Will Transform Into A Mini Paris This Month

For the full experience, visitors can check out the jaw-dropping 66-foot-tall Eiffel Tower.
Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Padilla

PARIS IS coming to Indianapolis. Well, sort of. This month, the city will host the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming on June 15–23. The last time Indy hosted an Olympic Trials that sent swimmers to compete in Paris was way back in 1924. So, 100 years later, Indianapolis has decided to do something special to mark the occasion: build a mini Eiffel Tower.

The freestanding structure is a 66-foot-tall tower weighing 24,000 pounds. It is presented by AES Indiana and was erected June 10th. It stands on Georgia Street and South Capitol Avenue as if to greet guests to Lucas Oil Stadium, where the swim trials will be held. It’s the first time that such an event will take place on a football field—another radical transformation the city is undergoing for the trials. Three swimming pools will take the stage in Lucas Oil Stadium.

It is set to be a big affair. Having the trials on the football field was a creative way to increase seating capacity to 35,000, making this year’s swim trials bigger than the largest crowd for any indoor swim meet ever recorded. During the trials, more than 1,000 athletes will compete for 52 spots to represent Team USA.

Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Padilla

Hence the city wanted to go big with its Paris-themed decorations as well. The Latinas Welding Guild, a local nonprofit providing underprivileged communities with industry certifications, was commissioned to build the replica Eiffel Tower made from Indiana steel. Originally, the project was to measure 50 feet, but the engineers made the trusses bigger, allowing the project to bloom to 66 feet.

“When we first received the opportunity to design and fabricate a 66-foot Eiffel Tower for the Olympic Swimming Trials, we knew it would be a monumental task,” says Consuelo Lockhart, executive director and founder of Latinas Welding Guild. The engineers wanted to make the tower bigger and grander to deter would-be climbers (24-hour security will remain in front of the tower to ensure this) but also to show off their skills.

Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Padilla

“The tower has allowed us to push our creative and technical boundaries, showcasing our ability to handle large-scale, complex structures,” she says. “Compared to our usual projects, which often focus on smaller-scale functional art pieces and community installations, this Eiffel Tower project is on a completely different scale.”

The mini Eiffel Tower will officially open at the Starting Block Party on June 14. The tower will be a great backdrop for the event, which kicks off the OneAmerica Financial Concert Series, free evening concerts performed daily from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It will also be lit at night with energy-efficient lights from AES Indiana, making the spot even more noteworthy—and a tad romantic. According to Lockhart, 20 people have already asked if they can get married under the tower.

It’s unclear if this will be possible, especially as a final decision has not yet been made about where the mini Eiffel Tower will go after the trials. But more replica towers might be on the way soon. The town of Paris, Illinois, reportedly asked Lockhart for its own miniature Eiffel Tower. She is hesitant to share all the details on future projects but says: “Following the success of the Eiffel Tower project, we are more motivated than ever to take on larger and more ambitious projects,” adding, “One of our immediate goals is to continue building on the momentum and visibility this project has given us.”

Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Padilla

But in the meantime, couples might want to take advantage of Indianapolis becoming a new “City of Love” while they can. During the nine days of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, the Parisian theme can easily be carried through all downtown Indianapolis. To fit the theme of romance in Paris, visitors can take a ride in a swan-shaped paddle boat down the city’s canal; explore the 151-acre museum at Newfields complete with a French style home and garden walks (be sure to snag a photo in front of the iconic LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana while you’re at it); or explore Indy’s thriving bakery and pastry scene. Café Babette, for instance, just opened in January as a French country style bakery. While visiting, couples might also want to check out Sarah McLachlan at the Everwise Amphitheater at White River State Park on June 16.

The Paris-ification of Indy will come to an end after the swim trials are over. The mini Eiffel Tower closes on June 23.