Near as can be determined, from 1937-47, the park land sat idle. The pool was drained. The buildings were locked and shuttered. It’s possible that fixtures were sold off during the war years as scrap metal prices soared.

As 1948 dawned, changes were coming...

Indianola Park Shopping Center with Indianola Junior High in the background, Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 9, 1948

When the war ended, the neighborhoods around the park began changing.

Funded by the G.I. Bill, thousands of new students were flooding into the area. In 1945, Ohio State's enrollment was 11,207. By 1947, it had more than doubled to a record of 25,403. Before the war, enrollment had peaked at only about 17,000 students.

There were so many new students in the area that the university was forced to house them in tent and trailer cities on the Ohio State Fair grounds and along Olentangy River Road north of Lane. There were so many new students that the university briefly considered (but rejected) leasing the old dance pavilion as a lecture hall to relieve the overcrowding of campus buildings.

At the same time, a baby boom was underway. Everybody, everywhere was having babies. One of every six new Ohio State students had a family.

These new students and young families didn’t need an amusement park—much less a closed one. They needed a place to shop.

In 1948, crews went to work. The pool was filled in and paved over to make a parking lot and surrounded on the east and north with storefronts. The old dance pavilion was spared from destruction and remodeled.

On December 9, 1948, to great fanfare, the first of the new businesses in the amusement-park-turned-shopping-mall opened. Ohio Giant Market operated a grocery store inside the old dance pavilion building. Where their parents had danced the foxtrot and Charleston, young families now shopped for frozen peas, Buckeye potato chips, and Borax.

The park was rechristened Indianola Park Shopping Center and thrived for the next twenty years.

Indianola Park Merchants, 1952
Ohio Giant Market
Flowers by Jerry
G. Wonderly Beauty Shop
Petitfour Inc. Bakery
Wetzel Gift Shop
Indianola Appliance & Linoleum
House of Fashion
Colonial Finance
Lang Cleaners
Sloan's Drugstore
Indianola Laundromat
Grant Hardware Store
Major's 5¢ and 10¢
George Chaker's Restaurant