Hoosier History Live is brought to you by:

 

 

 

Indiana State Library

 

Lucas Oil

 

 

Your contribution helps keep Hoosier History Live on the air!

Donate button.

Email newsletter

 

Check us out on social media!

Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.

 

Books by Nelson Price

Book cover of The Quiet Hero, A Life of Ryan White, by Nelson Price.

Indiana Legends book cover.Book cover of Indianapolis Then and Now, 2016 edition, by Nelson Price and Joan Hostetler, featuring photos by Garry Chilluffo.

Acknowledgments

Hoosier History Live thanks our partners who help the show to go on!

Monomedia
Website design, email marketing and PC consulting.

Fraizer Designs
Graphic design and illustration.

Visit Indy
Promoting Indy and providing us with wonderful prizes for our History Mystery contest, including museums, sporting venues and great places to dine.

WICR
Our anchor radio station, on the campus of University of Indianapolis.

Heritage Photo and Research Services

 

April 17, 2021 - coming up

Bear pit at Riverside Park and other bygone animal attractions

This vintage postcard depicts the bear pit at Riverside Park in Indianapolis that was a popular attraction for almost two decades beginning in 1899.

Bears at Riverside Park in Indianapolis? Not for the last century. But for nearly two decades beginning in 1899, a bear pit was among the most popular attractions at the park near the White River.

Consisting of a fenced, circular pen with two arched doorways that allowed the bears to enter a sheltered den, the bear pit at Riverside was featured on thousands of postcards that have become collectibles.

And the Riverside bear pit, although the longest-lasting and most significant local animal attraction during the era (it even sometimes was casually referred to as a "zoo"), wasn't the only collection of wildlife on display in Indianapolis parks.

The popularity of the attraction at Riverside led to a public exhibit of bears at Garfield Park beginning in 1905, according to research by attorney Ed Fujawa, who will be Nelson's guest. Monkeys also were exhibited for a few years at Garfield Park - as well as, even more briefly, at Brookside Park, where visitors also could gaze at exotic birds.

Ed, the creator of the history blog Class 900: Indianapolis, has written about the Riverside bear pit. An adventure lover, Ed hiked around Riverside to find remnants of the bygone bear pit, discovering the two arched doorways for the den amid trees, rocks and brush.

A family views a bear (at right, poorly visible against the dark doorway of the den) in a snapshot annotated "Riverside Park Sept. 24 1911."The Riverside animal attractions - which even included deer, elk, wolves and (briefly) two sea lions, - and at the other parks long predate what is considered to be the first official Indianapolis Zoo. It opened in 1964 in Washington Park with a collection of about 500 animals, according to the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. The zoo at Washington Park closed in 1987, with a spectacular reopening later that year of the zoo at its current site in White River State Park.

Of the bygone Riverside Park bear pit, Ed Fujawa writes: "While the bears and other animals were popular with visitors, the conditions in which the animals were kept were not ideal." He describes letters of complaint in 1900 to Indianapolis newspapers. 

Ed elaborates on the poor treatment of park animals at the time, calling them "disgraceful, especially when compared to modern standards. The animal pens were too small, especially for the bears, and the staff of the parks often did not take action to protect the animals from outside influences, such as visitors to the park, or natural disasters."

His blog post recounts floods of the nearby White River that resulted in "close calls" for the bears, who "climbed trees and logs placed in the pit to escape the encroaching water."

According to Ed, a female bear at Garfield Park named Minnie died in 1905 after being fed buckeyes by the public. Local newspapers speculated that buckeyes were poisonous to the bear.

With his Class 900 blog, Ed focuses on unearthing Indy history that's often been overlooked or forgotten. In 2020, he was a Hoosier History Live guest for a show about tree-planting crusades in Indy that began in the 1850s. Even then, city residents were worried about the loss of tree canopy in the urban area.

Copyright 2021

 

What people are saying about Hoosier History Live

 

"...'Live' - and 'Lively' as well..."

"Hoosier History really is 'Live' - and 'Lively' as well. The program brings to new audiences the delight and wisdom that comes with knowing more of our past and our connections as Hoosiers."

James H. Madison, Emeritus History Professor, Indiana University

 

"... a compelling and engaging media project..."

"Molly Head and Nelson Price are Indiana-based visionaries who have created a compelling and engaging media project with Hoosier History Live. Podcasts, website, enewsletter, and live call-in radio show; it’s all there!"

- Keira Amstutz, President and CEO, Indiana Humanities

 

"...a great way to represent what I do..."

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with Nelson Price and the Hoosier History Live team. I feel being on the show was a great way to represent what I do with motorsports history. I am particularly excited by the show's new distribution through a podcast and making it accessible live through the Web.”

-Mark Dill, owner, FirstSuperSpeedway.com


"...great value to sponsors..."

"Hoosier History Live has amassed a vast library of content over the years, both with the show audio and newsletter material. I believe that the Hoosier History Live content has great value to sponsors and advertisers via widespread online distribution. Nowhere else do you find the fresh new material each week, the depth of stories, the richness of detail, and the long-term consistency."

- John McDonald, CEO, ClearObject in Fishers, Indiana, Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing IT company in Indiana for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

 

"...best Americana-themed show..."

"Hoosier History Live is the best Americana-themed show anywhere on radio!"

- John Guerrasio, former IRT actor

 

"...always a great show"

“Hoosier History Live is always a great show.  We did a small  sponsorship as a gesture of support, and I didn’t think a little history show would have much impact. But many people mentioned to me that they had heard our credit on the radio.”

G.B. Landrigan, Realtor, Certified Residential Specialist 

 

"I love the podcasts..."

"I love the podcasts! I work on Saturdays and cannot always hear the live broadcasts. Sometimes I also like to listen a second time."

- Terri Gorney, Fort Wayne listener

 

"...fun and interesting..."

"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."

Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer

 

"...does more to promote Indiana history..."

"Hoosier History Live does more to promote Indiana history than does any single source."

Andrea Neal, Indianapolis author and educator

"...infuses joy into the pursuit of history..."

"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live."

Marsh Davis, President, Indiana Landmarks

"...enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable..."

 "Hoosier History Live is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live and be prepared to be surprised."

James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre

 

"...a great way to learn more about history..."

"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."

Jill Ditmire, Omni Media Specialist

"...I want to call in!..

"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"

Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007

"...interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant'..."

"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant', Hoosier History Live seems to have mastered that formula."

Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener

 

Podcast Listening 101: The Basics

With voice searching on Google, it's incredibly easy to listen to Hoosier History Live podcasts.

We still broadcast live every Saturday on WICR 88.7, but more and more of our listeners are getting their Hoosier History Live shows by podcast - and it's easier than ever!

It's really this simple: If you have a smartphone, go to the Google search engine, click on the microphone button, and say "Hoosier History Live podcasts." Or if you don’t use the microphone, type in the words "Hoosier History Live podcasts" at the Google search bar.You'll immediately get a list of recent shows to choose from. Click on one of them - and let the listening begin!

If you have a preferred podcast provider like Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, you can use their search function to call up Hoosier History Live as well. When you see our yellow Hoosier History Live logo, just click on the episode you want to listen to. 

And don't forget to share! You can post links to our podcast on your social media page or send them by email or text. 

 

 

Home | About us | Support the show | Contact us | Archives | Listen

© 2008-20 Hoosier History Live. All rights reserved.