Located on the northside of Market Street just west of Illinois Street, the Cyclorama building exhibited life-size Civil War murals and served as a menagerie during its 15-year existence.

Attached to the front of the circular Cyclorama is a long, two-story rectangular building plastered with posters and advertisements, mostly for Barnum & Bailey.
Cyclorama Building on West Market Street, ca. 1890 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

The dome-shaped structure was built in 1888 by a local cyclorama stock company to exhibit a massive mural portraying the Battle of Atlanta. The 50-foot high mural, painted in Milwaukee by German artists, stretched 400 feet in circumference around the inside of the building. Because the depiction of Civil War battles was a popular artistic theme during this period, the Cyclorama was part of a national trend in the construction of such structures.

Large crowds paid a modest fee to see the painting until the novelty wore off. Despite efforts to boost attendance, the cyclorama stock company folded and the painting was removed from the city in 1891. The Civil War mural was moved to Grant Park in Atlanta, Georgia, and remains on display there.

The brochure reads "Battle Of Atlanta". Underneath is a drawing of the building under which is written "The above cut shows the great building, over 400 feet in circumference and 100 feet high, built expressly for the exhibition of the magnificent Cyclorama."
Brochure for the Cyclorama, ca. 1890 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Several other murals, including one of a religious nature entitled “Jerusalem,” were featured in the Cyclorama building in the 1890s. At the turn of the century, one of the nation’s first horseless carriage exhibits was held in the structure.

In the fall of 1900, the Cyclorama building was home to the Frank Bostock Zoo, a collection of wild animals resembling a circus. Lions, tigers, and bears were housed in cages, which were lined around the inner walls of the structure. Animal trainers entertained the large crowds that thronged to the zoo, and an excursion to the facility became a prized outing until the zoo moved from town in 1901.

The Cyclorama building was demolished in 1903 to make room for the new Indianapolis Traction Terminal.

Revised February 2021

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