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Encyclopedia > Indianapolis, IN
The Indianapolis skyline

Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana. As of the census of 2000, its population is 791,926, also making it Indiana's most populous city. It is the county seat of Marion County.



Indianapolis in the 1910s

Indianapolis was founded as the state capitol in 1821 by an act of the Indiana General Assembly. Prior to its official founding, Indianapolis was a sparsely settled swampy area. The first white settler is generally believed to be George Pogue, who on March 2, 1819 settled in a double log cabin along the White River in what is now White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. The state commissioned Alexander Ralston to design the new capital city. Ralston was an apprentice to the French architect Pierre L'Enfant, and he helped L'Enfant plan Washington, DC. Ralston's original plan for Indianapolis called for a city of only 1 square mile. Under Ralston's plan, at the center of the city was placed the Governor's Circle, a large circular commons, which was to be the site of the Governor's mansion. It was used as a market commons for over six years. Although an expensive Governor's mansion was finally constructed in 1827, no Governor ever lived in the house at Governor's Circle, as the site in the city center lacked any privacy. The Governor's mansion was finally demolished in 1857. (See HISTORY OF INDIANAPOLIS AND MARION COUNTY INDIANA by B.R. Sulgrove, 1884). Later, Governor's Circle became Monument Circle after the impressive 284-feet tall neoclassical limestone and bronze State Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, designed by German architect Bruno Schmitz, was completed on the site in 1901.

While the city lies on the old east-west National Road, the portion of that road that crosses Indiana was not completed until a decade after the city's founding. Indianapolis was founded on the White River under the incorrect assumption that the river would serve as a major transportation artery; however, the waterway was too sandy for trade. Through the mid-1800s, a horse-drawn barge canal by-passed the river bringing goods into the city. The Central Canal was one of eight major infrastructure projects authorized by the state's Mammoth Improvement Bill of 1835. The Central Canal was intended to run 296 miles (476 km) from near Logansport, through Indianapolis, and to Evansville. The Central Canal was planned to connect the Wabash-Erie Canal to the Ohio River, completing a link between Lake Erie in the State of Ohio with the portion of the Ohio River flowing through southern Indiana in order to promote trade and commerce along its length. Construction of the Central Canal commenced in 1836, but Indiana went bankrupt in 1839 from the loans taken out under the aforementioned bill and all work on the project ceased. At the time, the 24 mile (39 km) portion of the Indianapolis section of the canal was dug and filled, but only an 8.29 mile (13.34 km) portion connecting downtown Indianapolis with the village of Broad Ripple to the north was ever operational.

The first railroad to service Indianapolis, the Madison & Indianapolis, began operation on October 1, 1847, and subsequent railroad connections enlarged the town. The population soared from just over 8,000 in 1850 to more than 169,000 by 1900. Later, the automobile, as in most American cities, caused a suburban explosion. With automobile companies as Duesenburg, Marmon, National, and Stutz, Indianapolis was a center of production rivaling Detroit, at least for a few years. With roads as the spokes of a wheel, Indianapolis was on its way to becoming a major "hub" of regional transport connecting to Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, and St. Louis. Today, four interstate roads intersect in Indianapolis: routes 65, 69, 70, and 74. The city is a major trucking center, and the extensive network of highways has allowed Indianapolis to enjoy a relatively low amount of traffic congestion for a city its size.

Indianapolis entered a period of great prosperity at the beginning of the 20th century, and during this time the city witnessed great economic, social, and cultural progress. However, this golden era came to an abrupt and dark end with the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan movement in the United States. The Indiana chapter of the Klan was founded in 1920 and quickly became the most powerful Klan organization in the United States. In 1922, D.C. Stephenson was appointed the Klan Grand Dragon of Indiana and 22 other states; he promptly moved the Indiana Klan's headquarters to Indianapolis, which was already coming under the Klan's influence. The Klan became the most powerful political and social organization in the city during the period from 1921 through 1928. The Klan continued to solidify its stronghold on the state, taking over the Indiana Republican Party, it used its new political might to establish a Klan-backed slate of candidates which swept state elections in 1924. The elections allowed the Klan to seize control of the Indiana General Assembly and place the corrupt Governor Edward Jackson in office. By then, more than 40 percent of the native-born white males in Indianapolis claimed membership in the Klan. Klan-backed candidates took over the City Council, the Board of School Commissioners, and the Board of County Commissioners. Foreign-born immigrants, Jews, African-Americans, and Catholics endured a reign of terror. Through the Klan, Stephenson ruled over the State of Indiana, leading a powerful national movment set on gaining control of the United States Congress and the White House. However, the power of the Klan would quickly begin to crumble after Stephenson was convicted at the end of 1925 for the rape and murder of a young Indianapolis woman, Madge Oberholtzer. Following Stephenson's conviction, the Klan suffered a tremendous blow and quickly lost influence. When Governor Jackson refused to pardon Stephenson, he retaliated by going public with information of corruption which brought down several politicians throughout Indiana. The Mayor of Indianapolis and several local officials were convicted of bribery and jailed. Governor Jackson was indicted on charges of bribery, but he was acquited in 1928 because the statute of limitations had run out; he completed his term in disgrace. The Klan continued to dwindle in popularity in Indiana and nationwide, and the national organization officially disbanded in 1944.

Years later, Indianapolis would witness an historic moment in the Civil Rights Movement. On April 4, 1968, while on route to a presidential campaign rally in Indianapolis, Robert F. Kennedy would learn of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. earlier that day. Kennedy would deliver an impromptu speech on race reconciliation to a mostly African-American crowd in a poor inner-city Indianapolis neighborhood. While rioting broke out in cities across the United States following the news of King's assassination, Indianapolis was the only major city where rioting did not occur.

As the result of a 1970 consolidation between city and county government (known as "Unigov"), the city of Indianapolis merged most government services with those of the county. For the most part, this resulted in a unification of Indianapolis with its immediate suburbs. Four communities within Marion County (Beech Grove, Lawrence, Southport, and Speedway) are partially outside of Unigov arrangement. Also, 11 other communities (called "included towns") are legally included in the Consolidated City of Indianapolis under Unigov, per Indiana Code 36-3-1-4 sec. 4(a)(2), which states that the Consolidated City of Indianapolis includes the entire area of Marion County, except the four previously mentioned "excluded" communities. The 11 "included towns" elected to retain their "town status" under Unigov as defined according to the Indiana Constitution (there were originally 14, but 3 later dissolved), but the Indiana Constitution does not define "town status." These "included towns" are fully subject to the laws and control of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, but some still impose a separate property tax and provide police and other services under contract with township or county government or the City of Indianapolis. Additionally, throughout Marion County certain local services such as schools, fire and police remain unconsolidated. However, the mayor of Indianapolis is also the mayor of all of Marion County, and the City-County Council sits as the legislative body for all of Marion County. Currently, Indianapolis is undergoing serious internal debate over how much, or whether, more of local taxation, government, and services should be further integrated.


Location of Indianapolis in Indiana
The Capitol of Indiana in Indianapolis

According to the United States Census Bureau, "the balance" (that part of Marion County not part of another municipality) has a total area of 953.5 km˛ (368.2 mi˛). 936.2 km˛ (361.5 mi˛) of it is land and 17.3 km˛ (6.7 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 1.81% water. These figures are bit misleading because they do not represent the entire Consolidated City of Indianapolis (all of Marion County, except the four "excluded" communities). The total area of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, which does not count the four "excluded" communities, covers approximately 966.3 km˛ (373.1 mi˛).

At the center of Indianapolis is the One-Mile Square, bounded by East, West, North, and South Streets. At the center of the Square is Monument Circle, a traffic circle at the intersection of Meridian and Market Streets, featuring the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. (Monument Circle is depicted on the city’s flag, and is generally considered the city’s symbol.) Four diagonal streets pass through the corners of the Square but stop one to five blocks (depending on the street) before reaching the Circle. Nearly all of the streets in the One-Mile Square are named after U.S. states. (The street-numbering system centers not on the Circle, but rather one block to the south, where Meridian Street intersects Washington Street — National Road.)


Note: The statistical data in this article represents the entire consolidated Indianapolis-Marion County metropolitan government. For statistical data on the portion of the governmental area that is Indianapolis only (i.e., not counting included towns), see Indianapolis (balance), Indiana. As of the census2 of 2000, there were 791,870 people, 320,107 households, and 192,704 families residing in the city, but the metropolitan population was nearing 1.5 million. The population density was 835.1/km˛ (2,163.0/mi˛). There were 352,429 housing units at an average density of 376.4/km˛ (975.0/mi˛). The racial makeup of the balance was 69.09% European American, 25.50% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.04% from other races, and 1.64% from two or more races. Not traditionally known for an ethnically diverse makeup, 3.92% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The majority of non-white population lives in the central and north portions of the inner-city area.

There are 320,107 households out of which 29.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% are married couples living together, 15.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% are non-families. 32.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.39 and the average family size is 3.04.

The age distribution is: 25.7% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the balance is $40,051, and the median income for a family is $48,755. Males have a median income of $36,302 versus $27,738 for females. The per capita income is $21,640. 11.9% of the population and 9.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 16.2% of those under the age of 18 and 8.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Sports and Recreation

Indianapolis is the home of the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team in the International League, the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association, the Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. In addition, the headquarters of the NCAA is in Indianapolis. The city has been referred to as "The Amateur Sports Capital of the World".

In 1987 Indianapolis played host to the Pan American Games.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Speedway, is the site of the Indianapolis 500, an open-wheel automobile race held each Memorial Day weekend on the 2.5 mile (4 km) oval track. The track is often referred to as "the Brickyard," as it was paved with 3.2 million bricks shortly after its initial construction in 1909. Today the track is paved in asphalt, yet there remains a yard of bricks at the start/finish line.

The first 500-Mile Race (804.7 km), held in 1911, was won by driver Ray Harroun driving a Marmon Wasp. (Marmon, incidentally, was an Indianapolis manufacturer.) The "500" is currently part of the Indy Racing League series.

The Speedway also hosts the NASCAR Brickyard 400 stock car race (currently scheduled in August) and the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix (recently moved from September to June).

As measured by the number of fans in attendance (estimated at close to 300,000), the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 are the two largest annual single-day sporting events in the world.


Indianapolis is the home of Butler University, the University of Indianapolis, Marian College, and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. The last was originally an urban conglomeration of branch campuses of the two major state universities, Indiana University in Bloomington and Purdue University in West Lafayette. A merged campus created downtown in 1969 at the site of the IU School of Medicine has continuously grown, with a student body today of just under 30,000, the third-largest campus in the state.

Other facts

Flag of the City of Indianapolis

The most common nickname for Indianapolis is ‘Indy’. Other nicknames include ‘Circle City’ (after Monument Circle) and ‘Naptown’ (presumably shortened from ‘IndiaNAPolis’, but often taken derogatorily to mean sleepy or boring).

Both of the US navy ships named USS Indianapolis were named for this city.

Indianapolis is the international headquarters of the pharmaceutical corporation Eli Lilly and Company and the US headquarters of Roche Diagnostics.

Indianapolis is served by Indianapolis International Airport, which is the largest privately managed airport in the United States.

Indianapolis's Union Station, one of the busiest rail depots in its time, employed a young Thomas Edison as a telegraph operator.

The mayor of Indianapolis (as of 2005) is Bart Peterson.

Indianapolis is the second most populous capital city in the United States (including Washington, DC), after Phoenix, Arizona.

Notable people from Indianapolis

External links

  • IndyGov (http://www.indygov.org/home.htm) - Official city government website
  • Indianapolis Recorder (http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/) (Local weekly, focuses on African-American issues)
  • Indianapolis Star (http://www.indystar.com/) ("Local" daily, owned by Gannett)
  • Nuvo (http://www.nuvo.net/) (Local weekly, concentrates on arts and entertainment)
  • Northside Topics (http://www.topics.com/) (Local weekly, concentrates on northern Marion County and the northern communities of the Nine-County Region)
  • Southside Times (http://www.ss-times.com/) (Local weekly, concentrates on southern Marion County and Greenwood, Indiana)
  • Indianapolis Business Journal (http://www.ibj.com/) (Local business weekly)
  • The Sagamore (http://www.sagamore.iupui.edu/) (IUPUI campus paper)
  • Butler Collegian (http://dawgnet.butler.edu/) (Butler University campus paper)
  • The Reflector (http://reflector.uindy.edu/) (University of Indianapolis campus paper)
  • Children's Museum of Indianapolis (http://www.childrensmuseum.org/)
  • Circle City Links (http://www.circlecitylinks.com/) (Directory of links to other local websites)
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=39.790942&longitude=-86.147685&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=39.790942&lon=-86.147685&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-86.147685&lat=39.790942&w=750&h=500)
Regions of Indiana
Chicagoland (includes the Chicago suburbs (Indiana) | Michiana | Nine-County Region | Southern Indiana
Largest Cities
Anderson | Bloomington | Carmel | Columbus | Elkhart | Evansville | Fishers | Fort Wayne | Gary | Hammond | Indianapolis | Kokomo | Lafayette | Lawrence | Mishawaka | Muncie | New Albany | Richmond | South Bend | Terre Haute
Adams | Allen | Bartholemew | Benton | Blackford | Boone | Brown | Carroll | Cass | Clark | Clay | Clinton | Crawford | Daviess | Dearborn | Decatur | De Kalb | Delaware | Dubois | Elkhart | Fayette | Floyd | Fountain | Franklin | Fulton | Gibson | Grant | Greene | Hamilton | Hancock | Harrison | Hendricks | Henry | Howard | Huntington | Jackson | Jasper | Jay | Jefferson | Jennings | Johnson | Knox | Kosciusko | Lagrange | Lake | LaPorte | Lawrence | Madison | Marion | Marshall | Martin | Miami | Monroe | Montgomery | Morgan | Newton | Noble | Ohio | Orange | Owen | Parke | Perry | Pike | Porter | Posey | Pulaski | Putnam | Randolph | Ripley | Rush | Saint Joseph | Scott | Shelby | Spencer | Starke | Steuben | Sullivan | Switzerland | Tippecanoe | Tipton | Union | Vanderburgh | Vermillion | Vigo | Wabash | Warren | Warrick | Washington | Wayne | Wells | White | Whitley

State Capitals of the United States

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming

  Results from FactBites:
Indianapolis - MSN Encarta (1144 words)
Indianapolis, city in the geographical center of Indiana and capital of the state.
Indianapolis is located on the Tipton Till Plain, an area of flat to gently rolling land shaped by the retreat of a glacier 18,000 years ago.
Indianapolis is at the core of a metropolitan region covering nine counties: Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby.
Indianapolis City Guide and Yellow Pages at SuperPages.com (790 words)
Indianapolis, IN Indianapolis was founded in 1821 and designed from the ground up to serve as the state capital of Indiana.
He laid out Indianapolis in a circular pattern, incorporating many of the design elements his mentor had used in designing Washington D.C. The state capital was officially moved to Indianapolis from Corydon in 1825.
Indianapolis is perhaps best known for the Indianapolis 500, a 500-mile Formula One race held every Memorial Day at the Indianapolis Moter Speedway.
  More results at FactBites »



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