Encompassing just over one hundred acres, Brookside Park is one of the oldest parks in Indianapolis, established in 1898. The park design was developed by George Edward Kessler ten years later, and the Brookside Park Community Center (designed by the firm of Harrison & Turnock) opened in 1928 [3]. As part of Kessler's master plan of Indianapolis' Park and Boulevard System, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places [1]. Today, Brookside Park offers playgrounds and swing sets; tennis, basketball, and horseshoe courts; baseball, soccer, and football fields; a Frisbee golf course; picnic shelters; wooded walking, jogging, and nature trails and scenic drives; a new swimming pool, spray park, and water slide; and the Community Center amenities, which include foosball and ping pong tables, a weight room, an auditorium, and a gymnasium [1; 2; 3].


  • At Brookside Park's pool (image from Historic Indianapolis)
    At Brookside Park's pool (image from Historic Indianapolis)
  • Brookside Park Community Center (image from Historic Indianapolis)
    Brookside Park Community Center (image from Historic Indianapolis)
  • Shelter house at the park (image from the Indiana Historical Society)
    Shelter house at the park (image from the Indiana Historical Society)
  • Brookside pavilion, 1911 (image from Historic Indianapolis)
    Brookside pavilion, 1911 (image from Historic Indianapolis)

A triangular portion of Brookside Park was established in 1898 in response to the population boom resulting from the 1863 construction of the United States Arsenal on the east side of Indianapolis [1; 3]. As streetcar lines expanded and residential lots sprang up, the city purchased land from the Calvin Fletcher family in 1870, setting aside land for Brookside Park in 1898 [3]. Urban planner George Edward Kessler designed the city's Park and Boulevard System a decade later, including the development in 1904 of Brookside Park, which straddles Pogue's Run (a tributary of the White River). Kessler put trails through the northern side of the park, but left the rolling, hilly woodland in its natural state; the southern portion of the park became home to sports fields and other active recreational areas [2; 3]. Before the Brookside Park Community Center could be fully planned, Kessler died in 1923. The firm of Harrison & Turnock was hired to design the Neoclassical Revival style building, which was completed in 1928 and features arched windows, a formal terrace overlook with a fountain, an auditorium, a gymnasium, meeting rooms, and a variety of recreational activities [1; 3]. The Community Center was renovated in the late 1990s. From its first official design in 1904, Brookside Park has featured tennis courts, and the swimming pool and locker house opened in 1923. There are two historic bridges crossing Pogue's Run within the park, one near the Community Center and one in the west-central section, as well as some of the original maintenance buildings. Kessler's "rustic" theme is expressed in the cut stone north entrance, remnants of cobblestone and boulder walls and planters, and brick gutters along the drives. Around 1932, a Memorial Grove was planted along the north entrance, as noted in inscriptions on the gates [1].

Today, Brookside Park offers playgrounds and swing sets; tennis, basketball, and horseshoe courts; baseball, soccer, and football fields; a Frisbee golf course; picnic shelters; wooded walking, jogging, and nature trails and scenic drives; a new swimming pool, spray park, and water slide; and the Community Center amenities, which include foosball and ping pong tables, a weight room, an auditorium, and a gymnasium [1; 2; 3].

1. Jones, Tina, Meg Storrow, Paul Diebold, and Amy Walker. "Indianapolis Park and Boulevard System." Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places. September 18, 2002. Accessed July 7, 2016. http://focus.nps.gov/GetAsset?assetID=72bd3d95-0d7f-4874-aba2-32102834b2c4. 2. National Park Service. "Brookside Park." Accessed July 7, 2016. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/indianapolis/brooksidepark.htm. 3. Sunkel, Gwen. "In the Park: Brookside Park." Historic Indianapolis. September 6, 2014. Accessed July 7, 2016. http://historicindianapolis.com/in-the-park-brookside-park/.