The Hoosierist: Ice Skating On Monument Circle
Downtown’s once-popular winter amusement, littered streets, and our little libraries. Ask The Hoosierist.
Q: Why don’t they have ice skating on Monument Circle anymore?
A: The Hoosierist fondly remembers the 1970s, when they used to freeze the pools around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for skating. Today’s urban planners would call it a great way to “activate” the space. But while it was fun, it wreaked havoc on the Monument itself. “It did an unbelievable amount of damage to the stone, and the repairs were very expensive,” says Stewart Goodwin, executive director of the Indiana War Memorials Commission. When water freezes, it expands by 9 percent, putting a lot of strain on pools made of comparatively soft limestone. For a while, the city toyed with the idea of putting up a temporary rink, but it would have interfered with traffic. Not to mention the fact that the Monument is a war memorial, and perhaps not the best place to install a public amusement. Kind of like putting up a bounce house at Arlington National Cemetery.
Q: Why are Indy streets so full of trash? Do we have exceptionally high litterbug activity?
A: The Hoosierist doesn’t know how much litter Indy residents generate, but he does know we’ve always been slobs. Citizens of a certain age may remember Mayor William Hudnut’s iconic public-service commercial pleading with us to pick up after ourselves. It featured the mayor tossing rubbish into a trash can using his signature “Hudnut Hook,” and asking us to “put litter in its place.” Unfortunately, based on the evidence, most folks think that “place” is road shoulders, vacant lots, and creek banks. There’s currently another media campaign called “It’s My City” encouraging us to discard our old McDonald’s bags in trash cans as opposed to, say, Walmart parking lots. But things could be worse. The janitorial company Busy Bee recently released a list of the 40 dirtiest cities, and Indianapolis isn’t even on it.
Q: I see those “little free libraries” everywhere now. Does anyone actually use them?
A: Based on the depletion rate of the books in the tiny repositories in The Hoosierist’s neck of the woods, the answer seems to be yes—unless they’re being stolen by raccoons. The Little Free Library group, which oversees many of these tiny, breadbox-sized shelves, recently placed its 75,000th unit worldwide, and estimates it has “shared” some 54 million books in 2018 alone. Locally, Rachel Simon, founder and executive director of The Public Collection, a group of artist-designed mini-libraries around Indy, says it has distributed more than 65,000 books between August of 2015 and August of 2018. That’s an impressive number of readers—or, possibly, raccoons.
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