A building straight out of “The Great Gatsby”

Ever wondered why the Circle Tower looks so different from its surrounding buildings?


Glory-June Greiff wrote a book about Art Deco architecture in Indy, for those craving even more info.

Photo by INDYtoday team

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If you’ve walked by Circle Tower and felt the sudden urge to sport a bob and do the “Charleston,” that’s because the building screams “Art Deco.”

Not literally, of course, but from the golden doorway to the geometric flower designs, it has all the ingredients for a 1920s-style masterpiece.

Under construction

Circle Tower was the city’s first downtown skyscraper following Monument Circle’s relaxed zoning ordinance in 1922, which expanded the previous limit of 86 ft to 108 ft. Why the strict rules? We all know Lady Victory always takes center stage when we talk about the Circle, so the restrictions were to ensure she was never hiding in a building’s shadow.

Structures could go even higher if they set back upper stories (think: lego style), which the Circle Tower did by staggering each floor after the 10th. It was the first building in Indy to incorporate this style of construction.

The finished product

Marbled walls, golden elevators, Italian terrazzo flooring, and bronze ornamentation are just a few of the lasting details that make Circle Tower one of Indy’s greatest remaining pieces of the Art Deco era. If you’re wondering why there are so many Egyptian motifs throughout the building, that’s because King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922, which was a source of inspiration for artists and designers at the time.

The cost of building the structure plus a 99-year lease reportedly totaled just $1.7 million, which is a bargain compared to the $250 million two-tower downtown project that was proposed adjacent to Gainbridge Fieldhouse earlier this year.

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