“Big Things” In Indianapolis

Over the last few years, I’ve covered most of the city of Indianapolis, photographing all of the Roadside Giants and "Big Things" with the help of my family, friends and totals strangers helping me spot their locations. I’ve covered almost everything Indianapolis has to offer. Please let me know if I missed any Big Things, or if there are updates to the big things you see here.

Lost Big Things – Sadly, lots of Indianapolis "Big Things" are lost to time due to businesses closing or natural disasters. Fortunately, I’ve captured pictures of many of them.

Temporary Big Things – Also, there are many "Big Things" that are inflated and these are often seasonal, and therefore temporary. I’ve given them their own page as well.

Mr. Bendo of Ralph’s Muffler shop on West 16th Street

Roadsideamerica.com also has a lot of information about my favorite big thing in Indy, Mr. Bendo, and how and where he was originally constructed, as well as the locations of hundreds of muffler men and lumberjacks like him throughout the United States. The owner of Ralph’s had duplicates made of Mr. Bendo, but he wasn’t able to install them at his other store locations due to zoning laws, so he keeps them stored in his basement. My fondest wish is to one day have a Mr. Bendo of my very own.

In January of 2002, I was interviewed by Dick Wolfsie for WISH-TV Daybreak News (see photos below with Barney) live from Mr. Bendo and Ralph’s Muffler shop, where I talked about this site and all the photos I’ve taken. — Dick Wolfsie and Barney from WISH-TV News. Photo 1 High Resolution   Photo 2 High Resolution

Dick Wolfsie & Barney

Modoc The Elephant

We spotted Modoc in the parking lot of a Marriot on the east side of town. I’m not sure why he was there; no other circus or parade-like objects were around. Stephanie wouldn’t let me hook him up to my truck and bring him home.

Giant Head on Mass Avenue.

Giant head made of bricks. We happened to be in the middle of a scavenger hunt when this photo was taken. Someday I’ll snap a picture without the wackiness.

Headless Giant Chicken – South Indy

This guy was located on South Madison, but he lost his head (literally) in the tornado in 2004. Headless chicken photos courtesy of my brother Todd. 2007 Update: I thought the chicken was gone, but Stephanie discovered him at 10420 E. 59th Street, in front of VanTreese & Associates food service equipment. Their mascot is a chicken. Not sure why the have the headless guy on display, but nice to see he wasn’t trashed.

Big Red Arrow

The Big Red Arrow was a promotion by the city of Indianapolis to highlight their "2005 Cultural Convergence" which was a number of significant arts and culture related events that have all came together in the same year, including the expansion of the Eiteljorg and IMA, and the opening of the new Herron School of Art. They moved the big red arrow around town to each event. Sadly, after the 2005, we discovered the arrow stuck in a overgrown empty lot on south west street, where the city has storage facilities for various public works projects. Dunno if it will make an appearance at future events, but it looked sadly abandoned.

Big Art by Todd Anders and Gary Abner at ADAPT 3D

After I posted photos of the giant shoes in Newcastle, Indiana (one located at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the other at the Steve Alford Inn), one of the artists who created them, Todd Anders, contacted me and sent me pictures (which are copyrighted) and information about their history, and other advertising art he created in Indianapolis with partner Gary Abner, who died of cancer in September 2004.

The giant shoes were created by Anders and Abner in 1990-1991 as part of an ad campaign for the then new Reebok Pump tennis shoes. They were in a huge shoe box on a billboard at 82nd St. and I-69 as a welcome to the people coming to the NCAA championships in 1991. The tagline was "NBA Starter Kit." Anders sent me with pictures of the models of the shoes and them under construction, as well as in their original location on the billboard.

The Milk bottles were done in 1991 as a tie-in to the Indy 500, because the winner drinks a glass of milk. They were 14 foot high, four feet deep and about 5 feet wide. They are made of chopped fibreglass with a polystyrene laminate on the back side in order for them to retain their shape in the hot sun.

The giant Whale’s Tail was originally at the Indianapolis Zoo, but is now gone. And the 7-foot tall rooster was on Laughner’s Cafeteria, where Loon Lake Lodge is now. Gary also designed and built the "tree" sign that now sits on the property. It is a pole cover made of hand cast fibreglass. It also garnered a 2nd spot in the yearly national sign contest by the "Sign of the Times" magazine for The Sign Group here locally when it was originally built.

Shiel Sexton’s Structure Man

Giant steel man holding up a girder at Shiel Sexton at 902 N. Capitol Avenue, in Downtown Indianapolis.The Indianapolis Colts jersey photos are courtesy employees of Sheil Sexton, who put together the tribute to our local team during the playoffs.

Ossip’s Giant Eye Glasses and a Giant Eye/Clock

on two different Ossip Optometry signs. The Eye glasses are well known and are located on Broadripple Ave near the Applebee’s Restaurant. The billboard has been painted recently, and the background is now a cloud scene instead of the lime green color. The giant Eye clock is on I-69 near the Castleton exit. These are two of my favorite big things because they remind me of "The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg" from the Great Gatsby. I have a similar optical sign at home in my house.

Two Giant Gardening Trowels

at Habig’s Gardening Centers. The one on the left is at 52nd and College, the other is north on U. S. 31. The trowel at 52nd and college was gone briefly, but it reappeared recently with a shiny new paint job.

Two Giant Cows On Pendleton Pike

The first of these cows is at a lawn ornament/produce shop. It was originally brown and white, but was repainted later in a strange purple/gold combo, with bright red lips. The other cow is located at Cohron’s Manufactured Housing shop, and has been repainted several times to celebrate the Colts, Pacers, and other events. In 2007, we revisited both cows for new photos. The Cohnron Cow has been repainted back to cow colors, and is on a customized elevated platform now – very nice. The multi-color cow now sports cartoon bubble signs; very cute.

Giant Cow at Crossroad Farms Dairy, 400 South Shortridge Road

I took the first photo in the dark in 2001, but returned in January 2005 to get better photos. The second time, though, they wouldn’t let me drive in to take pictures of the cow (apparently there’s an official rule about it!) so I had to take photos from the road.

Giant Cougar at Crossroad Ford Lincoln Mercury Cougar on South Madison.

The Cougar gets decorated for the holidays, and at Christmas, he wears a large green wreath. Recently he moved to a back lot of the business and no longer has a prominent location.

Giant Uncle Sams

At Eastgate Chrysler Car Sales on Shadeland near U.S. 40/Eastgate Mall. The first two pictures are of the smaller Sam (who’s still pretty large) and there’s a bigger Sam, who’s gigantic. I took one photo back in 2001, and returned in January to get some better shots.

Giant Chicken – Noblesville

Outside the Chanticleer Home Store on Allisonville Road in Noblesville, Indiana. When I was in High School, it used to be Aunt Bee’s Restaurant, but the chicken recently got a coat of paint and a new name. Apparently my older brother has photos of himself on top of the chicken back in High School. The chicken was for sale the last time I drove by; the Chanticleer business is gone. I’m saving my pennies, but I don’t think I’d be able to buy the building.

Giant Stone Mermaids at 5601 S. Madison St.

My friend Lori Beth sent me to see these mermaids; they belong to her uncle’s business. These mermaids were originally part of the 30th and Fall Creek Bridge, which was designed by Lori Beth’s grandfather. When the bridge was redone, Lori Beth’s family stored the mermaids on behalf of the city. When the city never claimed them, ownership reverted back to the family.

Giant Bowling Pins

at Four different bowling alleys around town. The first two photos were at an alley somewhere off of South east I-465, and the pin is now gone due to structural problems. The second pin (the blue sign) is Downtown near Fountain Square. The white pin at a tilt up on a pole is at 96th and Keystone, and the last two photos are of the pin at 71st and Michigan.

Giant Totem Pole at the Eiteljorg Museum Downtown

It’s a recreation of an original Alaskan Haida Totem Pole that once was featured in the 1904 World’s Fair, and then lived in an Indianapolis neighborhood for many years, giving the street “Totem Lane” it’s name. It eventually relocated to the Eiteljorg Museum’s lawn, but has been brougt indoors to preserve it. More on the totem pole here.

Two Giant Horses

outside the P. F. Changs restaurant at Keystone at the Crossing. Apparently in other cities the size of the horses was a source of controversy and zoning issues.

The Indiana State Fair 2003 – Giant Ear of Corn, Giant Strawberry, Giant Pineapple, Giant Root Beer Barrel and Cornucopia

Also, a creepy inflatable Titanic ride, which is a slide made to imitate sliding down the deck while the boat was sinking. Why am I the only one who finds that morbid?

Indiana State Fair 2004 – Giant Chairs and other pics of the Giant Cornucopia

That’s my girlfriend sitting in a giant chair at the 2004 Indiana State Fair. The other chair was a photo booth on the midway, and I caught more photos of the Cornucopia this year.

Indiana State Fair 2005 – Giant Pumpkins

The Giant pumpkins were real, but that “world’s largest strawberry shortcake” was a scam.

Giant Hockey Skate at Pepsi Coliseum

Was there only a short time, promoting an event.

Giant Basketball Shoe

I believe this was outside the American One building. I think there were quite a few of them placed around downtown, and they were promoting the Pacers.

Race Car Art Series

I think there were quite a few of them placed around downtown, and they were promoting the Indianapolis 500. The city seems to do a public art series promoting the race almost every year.

Giant Backpack, Weinermobile

Some contributions from my friend Lori.

Giant shroom at Magic Bus Pizza

Just inside the door.

Elephant on Kessler

In a church parking lot on Kessler; I guess it was there for a kid’s summer school event.

Giant Bagel on The Ripple Deli in Broadripple

Okay, it isn’t 20 feet tall or anything, but it is larger than you average bagel.

Giant Horse on South Side

at Horizon Apartments on Mann Road, off south I-465. It took a lot of driving to figure out where this horse was. I could see it from 465, but once I got off the exit, it was hard to navigate back to it.

Two Giant Swans

one located at a housing development off Pendleton Pike, and one at an Apartment complex near Washington Square Mall. I think the one on Pendleton Pike is gone now; I need to go back and scour the area to be sure.

Giant Reindeer

at Glendale Mall’s Santaland Display. This reindeer has been at Glendale for Christmas several years in a row.

Giant Tin Soldiers

In a Christmas display at Keystone at the Crossing.

Giant Flamingo Sign

on North Keystone Street across from Glendale Mall. The sign is for a vet for exotic pets. This sign got a make-over recently, so I need to get new photos for comparison.

Giant Tiki

at Jillians entertainment complex downtown. That is me in the photo. I loved this tiki and wish I had one for my house.

World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock

at the Indianapolis Home Show. There are two buildings in America that are also cuckoo clocks, but technically they don’t officially count as "the world’s largest."

Giant Calendar/Clock

in the Lobby of the Children’s Museum, 30th and Meridian Street.

Dinosaurs

outside Children’s Museum, 30th and Meridian Street.

Giant Cake

During one of the anniversaries of the Children’s Museum, it was decorated as a giant birthday cake. 30th and Meridian Street.

Giant Guitar Sign

at Hard Rock Cafe, downtown Indianapolis. The’re pretty common, being a chain and all, but I thought it’s throw it in there.

Giant Fake Nuclear Waste Cask on 54th and College.

I think this was in town for a political protest of some sort.

Giant Beer Stein

at Café Heidelberg on Pendleton Pike. An article at the Cafe suggests that at one time, this was the World’s Largest Beer Stein, although that record may now be held by someone else. One of the lodges in town also has an impressively sized stein.

Frisch’s Big Boy

on south Keystone near the 65 south exit. There are a lot of these around, but it’s still pretty cool.

Metal Dinosaur Sculpture

at the Midland Antique Mall. Dunno if this counts as a "big thing" really, but I thought it was pretty cool.

Giant Hippo

I-38 just west of U.S. 31. I’m going to make a return visit to get clearer pictures in the daylight.

Giant Globe

at the Kiwanis Building in north Indianapolis. This can be seen from I-465.

Giant Stone Sundial

at Crown Hill Cemetery Mausoleum.

Litrasphere at Circle Center Mall

When the city celebrated the first anniversary of Circle Centre Mall in 1996, it remembered Larry Conrad, Indiana’s former secretary of state and a dynamic civic leader. A sculpture in his memory, “Literasphere for Larry Conrad” was unveiled in the mall’s Georgia Street Rotunda. The bronze sphere features quotations from Raintree County, Larry’s favorite novel about Indiana. The sculpture was sponsored by the Simon Debartolo Group, the Circle Centre Development Company and the Herron School of Art.

Giant Cat Sign

Somewhere on the south side of town, near a truck stop.

Curious George

At a book reading at Borders in Keystone. Technically, he’s probably not a "Big Thing" except that he’s larger than, say, a real monkey. And Curious George is pretty cool.

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