Be IN: George Kessler


Be like George. Be in.

When architect Alexander Ralston designed the original mile square plat for Indianapolis, he neglected to include parks. As Indy’s population exploded in the late 19th century, the lack of parks became a glaring deficiency. So city officials embarked on a plan to implement a citywide park system, but politics interfered with progress—that is, until George Kessler came to town.

Born in Germany and headquartered in St. Louis, Kessler was a renowned landscape architect with a knack for city planning and park design. His work in Kansas City and Cincinnati is well known, but what he did for Indianapolis stands among his crowning achievements.

After a year of planning, Kessler introduced a visionary Park and Boulevard Plan for Indianapolis that brought all parties into agreement. He introduced regional parks to every side of the city, as well as a comprehensive parkway system. By combining parks with green spaces in a network of corridors that manage urban growth and protect the environment, Kessler created a sustainable system that is central to the character and functionality of our city to this day.

Kessler’s visionary work made our community a better, more beautiful, and more livable place. Central Indiana needs more visionaries like George Kessler in the 21st century. Maybe you’re one of them. It all starts with a simple decision to Be IN.


What does it mean to BE IN?

Be IN is a rallying cry to be a part of something bigger in Central Indiana. To be involved in upholding Central Indiana’s long tradition of citizen-driven progress. To be inspired by those who did the same before us. To be invested in Central Indiana’s future, and to be actively involved in improving it.

In 1916, a group of business and civic leaders formed The Indianapolis Foundation, one of the first community foundations in America. For the past century, some of the area’s most generous philanthropists have used The Indianapolis Foundation to contribute to vital community projects and cement their legacies.

In 1997, The Indianapolis Foundation merged with the Legacy Fund of Hamilton County to form CICF, serving both Marion and Hamilton counties. 2016 marks The Indianapolis Foundation’s 100th anniversary. It also marks the Legacy Fund’s 25th anniversary and the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana’s (another CICF fund) 20th anniversary.

It’s a milestone year—the ideal time for the community to come together and Be IN.


Click here to view the submissions from other visionaries.

Click the image above to view the submissions from other visionaries.

All it takes is one idea?

Do you have a vision for our community’s future? A big idea that can make life better for Central Indiana citizens? That can make our city more vibrant and beautiful? That can help attract and retain creative talent? That will build on the foundation laid by Central Indiana’s visionaries from a century ago? If so, we want to hear it.

You can upload a brief 15 to 30 second video sharing your vision, or submit a written version of your vision here.

Over the next several months, CICF will review and evaluate all submissions. The best ones will be displayed on this website this fall. Some may even become eligible for funding from CICF.

Now is the time to lay the foundation for the next 100 years. To be inspired. To be involved. To be IN.