This iconic neoclassical civic landscape both dominates and defines downtown Indianapolis. Composed of classical buildings, fountains, sculptures, and plantings and other landscape features, the site cohesively forms one of the largest and most significant memorial settings in the United States outside of Washington, D.C.
The five-block Indiana War Memorial Plaza comprises most of the district. Bound by St. Clair, Meridian, Pennsylvania and New York Streets, the plaza was designed in 1923 by architects Frank Walker and Harry Weeks to honor those who fought in World War I. Highly visible in all directions, the imposing Indiana World War Memorial building is the central focal point of the plaza while the Veterans Memorial Plaza and American Legion Mall to its north, and University Park to its south unify the Beaux-Arts design so that it reads as a whole.
The Indianapolis Public Library and Federal Building at opposite ends of the plaza serve as the physical and visual terminuses for its principal axial relationship. Located one block southwest of the Federal Building, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (built 1888 to 1901) predates the construction of the plaza, yet is thematically linked to the rest of the district. The Indiana World War Memorial Plaza was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was formally added to the designation in 2016, at which point the district was renamed the Indiana War Memorials Historic District.