In 1895, Indianapolis was a rapidly growing city, and wanted to be an attractive one, too. Mayor Thomas Taggart had just established a parks system, and famed landscape architect George Kessler was hired to create a grand vision for the city’s aesthetics—most notably, its parks and parkways.
The literal hotbed of all these beautification efforts? Indy’s oldest public greenspace, Garfield Park, which had opened as Southern Park in 1876. More than 200,000 plants were grown in the onsite greenhouses each year, including 100-plus varieties of bushes and flowers. A small brigade of florists and helpers would gather at the park to pick up the lush flowers and greenery, and then transplant them to public planters and esplanades, from Spades, St. Clair, and Indianola parks to street centers on Emerson and Fletcher avenues. The buds were laid out in patterns like stars, shields, Maltese crosses, the American flag, and other geometric combinations throughout the metropolis.
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