This New Park Might Be The Most Unusual One In The Country

The Idle is now up and running.
In the words of Steve Jobs, here’s to the crazy ones: The team behind The Idle, a new highway-overlook park downtown that sounds nutty on paper but is brilliant on every other level. It quietly opened this week after five years in the making.

The Idle: A Point of View sits off the Cultural Trail between Fletcher Place and Fountain Square. A handicap-accessible stone path leads to a hill between the southbound and northbound lanes of I-65/I-70, overlooking the south split. Orange stadium seats under a sunshade invite people to sit and watch the traffic.

Everything about The Idle is counterintuitive, starting with the very notion. Who would want to watch traffic? Why does observing the chaotic convergence of the honking interstate masses have a calming effect worthy of The Idle name? And Indy is about speed, not stillness.

But it just works—maybe because it captures what Indy is right now. The Idle is a surprising, creative, resourceful, original, and practical use of an overlooked, underloved greenspace. It’s a new take on Hoosier hospitality. It represents a collaboration of local artists and nonprofits: Flatland Kitchen carved neighborhood names into tree-trunk benches; designer Amy McAdams-Gonzales did the branding; Keep Indianapolis Beautiful contributed plantings; and People for Urban Progress salvaged the Bush Stadium seats.

The tree-trunk bench is just like the one at Bluebeard with a Kurt Vonnegut quote. That’s because Bluebeard owner Tom Battista is also the crazy one behind The Idle. One of downtown’s urban pioneers, he has a romantic relationship with highways that inspired this unusual concept for a park. His primary hope is that people connect with each other at The Idle and finally start to reverse the negative effect that the highway had on Fountain Square when it was built decades ago, cutting off the neighborhood from downtown’s vitality and causing economic decline.

Go check it out, and let The Idle worship begin.