The Canal's Troubled Waters
For all that downtown’s Central Canal is—mainly, a lovely spot for fresh air—it may forever be known for what it is not.
The downtown canal was supposed to be used for transportation, but the city ran out of money in the 19th century before fully realizing the vision. Nevertheless, 21st century Naptowners have found ways to use the water, and the IUPUI Regatta is our favorite. Tomorrow’s canoe-race festival gives us a reason to lounge on the north basin’s large terrace steps, which we usually jog or bike past, thinking, One of these days, we’re going to hang out on the steps and watch the world go by. The regatta—one of downtown’s best free festivals all year—is the perfect time to make good on that promise. The event has gotten so big after just four years, it attracts 112 teams, thousands of spectators, and live bands, and it even has its own app. It also answers that burning question: Would you contract a skin disease by falling into the canal? The verdict appears to be no—members of the IUPUI swim team actually stand chest-deep in the cold water to position the boats, and so far, none of them have gotten E. coli. “It may seem gross because there are a lot of different things floating around in the canal, like leaves and bugs and other squishy things, but it is such a help to those who plan the regatta that it is definitely worth it,” says Elizabeth Bourgeois, a swimmer taking her fourth plunge in the canal tomorrow.