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TTK: Kessler Class 

TTKs are Sky Blue Window's 'Things to Know,' events, ideas and cultural creations that we think are worthy of your time and attention.

How can a city with no navigable river, mountains or other major natural assets link its inhabitants to nature? For George Kessler, the answer was a system of parks and parkways, of preserved green spaces, both wild and designed, that were themselves connected to the road arteries that would take residents to and from work and leisure. On April 16, Indiana Landmarks presents a chance to discover more about the plan, as well as what it offers Indianapolis today, in a special lecture.

click to enlarge George Kessler's 40-year career as a city planner and landscape architect included more than 230 known projects, which can be found in 23 states and 100 cities -- Indianapolis among them. - COURTESY OF INDIANA LANDMARKS
  • Courtesy of Indiana Landmarks
  • George Kessler's 40-year career as a city planner and landscape architect included more than 230 known projects, which can be found in 23 states and 100 cities -- Indianapolis among them.

If you've ever wondered how the curving Pleasant Run, Fall Creek, White River, Brookside, Ellenberger, and Burdsall Parkways came to be, Kessler is your answer. Same with Garfield Park's design and the historic bridges (some currently under renovation) that span Fall Creek and the White River. While Kessler's legacy is seen in the park system, another interesting aspect of his legacy is that several landscape architects floated many of the ideas he was able to implement before he did. But they didn't have the political know-how to avoid nasty public debates and legal challenges. Kessler made sure that his plans benefitted the entire city and that they presented a comprehensive vision.

And that vision, alongside his commitment to connecting urbanites to nature and his plan's relationship to Indianapolis waterways, seems more relevant today than it has in decades. Indy Parks' Greenways plan has been largely implemented, adding miles of trails and pathways to the city's park system. Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) is sparking new conversations about how neighborhoods can use streams and rivers to enhance citizens' lives.

Indiana Landmarks also planned a special bike tour to correspond with the Kessler-focused lecture, but it is sold out. In its place, you might want to consider the April 12 Mayors "Spring Fever" Bike Ride, which will highlight several ROW efforts.

Cover page image for this story is courtesy of Indiana Historical Society.

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Sky Blue Window Editors

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