Why the Campaign for Crown Hill
The cemetery had become a place in which the people felt a pride. They followed the old custom of little towns and brought their visitors out to see it. One visitor is on record as saying, when something was said about his entertainment: "If you are thinking of taking me to Crown Hill, please don't. I have been there five times already since I came!" There were no parks in those early days; the country roads were seldom in condition to invite pleasure driving, and Crown Hill was sought, not necessarily because it was a cemetery, but because it was a beautiful spot. And though it may be suggestive of the old village fashion of taking visitors to the graveyard, Indianapolis people still include Crown Hill in their drives when they have out-of-town visitors because they are proud of it and think it a place worth seeing.
The Story of Crown Hill by Anna Nicholas, 1928
Some cities seem born to national prominence. Others compete to achieve or enhance it. Our country's roots as a nation lie on and near our eastern coast, a testament to settlement patterns, limited early transportation, and ports of call. Eastern cities have taken full advantage of their heritage, developing strengths which enable them to compete for commercial and cultural stature. To their west lie younger urban areas, rich in their own history but without their eastern cousins' claims to early landmarks.
Today's society pits city against city in a metropolitan contest whose prizes are commerce and industry, culture, political influence, and international renown. When cities present their competitive credentials, they are measured not just in real estate, tax incentives, and on other commercial criteria, but also on civic worth.
Indianapolis has fought a long, public, well-documented campaign to distinguish itself and its significance. Its population places it just below our country's top ten largest cities; its focus on competitive endeavor places it in the international spotlight; its roster of commercial and cultural achievements includes many firsts and foremosts; and when Indianapolis enumerates its credentials, Crown Hill Cemetery belongs high on the list.
Our city's founders and early leaders realized that honoring those who have gone before us is fundamental to human nature - and that the ways and places in which we show our respect are a measure of our humanity. By establishing Crown Hill as a non-profit corporation whose proceeds benefit the facility itself, not those who govern it, they sent a clear message that their intent was to create a symbol of civic maturity, a place available to all for the many purposes it can serve. Its design as a rural cemetery makes it a green beautiful place which citizens seek out not just to reflect on those interred here, but also as a place to enjoy on its own scenic merits. In those respects, Crown Hill is Indianapolis' Central Park.
Crown Hill benefits its community in myriad ways. It provides a venue for grief and remembrance, honor and respect. It serves as a measure of our city's good citizenship, its ability to celebrate its people in the ways they wish to be honored. Because it has no religious affiliation, it honors all beliefs with equal grace. Because it is open to all, its population represents the rainbow of humanity. Just as it has endured, embodying its founders' foresight for nearly 150 years, its caring service enables us to celebrate those we love as we commemorate them.
In support of its history, civic significance, cultural and historic importance, Crown Hill must assure its access to the funds necessary to maintain and enhance an infrastructure larger than that of many towns. Along with public monuments, the treasures entrusted to it include many private monuments no longer supported by the families they have honored for many decades. Its public buildings require ongoing upkeep. Its trees require care. Nurturing a facility of this size and significance requires financial support to assure that a central element of Indianapolis' identity remains a splendid landmark, attracting visitors from all over the world, teaching life's lessons, telling our city's story, and defining Indianapolis as a place worthy of distinction among its metropolitan peers.
We invite you to reflect on all the ways in which Crown Hill defines the best in - and of - Indianapolis.