Frederick Douglass Park, which is part of Indy Parks, is a community park located on the near east side of Indianapolis at Andrew J. Brown and East 25th Street. The 43-acre park was established in 1921 and is in the Martindale-Brightwood Community. A swimming pool was added in 1927. Martindale, in the late 19th and throughout the 20th Century, was a segregated community for African Americans, which is still reflected in the predominantly African American population you see in the area today.
Brightwood was settled by European immigrants, primarily German, Irish, British, and their recent descendants in the late 19th and through the mid-20th Century. All these groups were attracted to the area by work created by several railroads and industries that had primarily developed in the Brightwood community. By the 1960s, the European-American families began to migrate out of Brightwood, a void filled by African Americans.
After WWII and through the 1960s, Martindale experienced growth in lower-middle to middle-class African American families, which in turn created greater and more diverse recreational demands on Frederick Douglass Park and its community center. A nine-hole golf course on the northeast part of the park was established, a new swimming pool was built to replace the old one, and some minor renovations to the existing family center were some of the improvements completed to meet these new demands. During this period, Douglass Park became very popular and well-used city-wide, especially by those in the African American community. Community meetings, popular city basketball games, and traditional family gatherings were just a few of the heavy uses for the park and the center.
Although the Martindale-Brightwood area experienced an economic decline from the 1970s and on, as did many urban areas nationally, in more recent years, a positive turn in the community is clearly evident. The recent infusion of new middle-income homes and younger families holds new promise for the community. Newer small businesses, churches, and greater racial diversity all point to a resurgence for the area. This is increasing demand for updated recreational needs as well as a location for community and health services.
About Indy Parks
Indy Parks connects communities by providing places and experiences that inspire healthy living, social engagement, and a love of nature. Indy Parks serves 8 million people annually and offers 212 parks, 153 miles of trails, 129 playgrounds, 23 recreation and nature centers, programs, pools, sports fields, and so much more. Visit parks.indy.gov or call (317) 327-PARK for more details.