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Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana and the commercial, transportation, and industrial center for a large area. The city is seat of Butler University, Marian College, Indiana Central College, Christian Theological Seminary, and Indiana University-Purdue University. The American Legion has its national headquarters in a building erected as a war memorial. Landmarks are the state capitol; the state library and historical building; the home and burial place of James Whitcomb Riley; the home of Benjamin Harrison; a Carmelite monastery; the Soldiers and Sailors Monument; and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the famous annual 500-mi automobile race. The Hoosierdome, a massive indoor sports facility and convention center, is downtown; it is home to the Colts (National Football League) and Indiana Pacers (National Basketball Association). Museums include the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, and a renowned children's museum. The Artsgarden center for the visual and performing arts opened in 1995.
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Overview

Introduction

The downtown of Indianapolis, Indiana, is a cosmopolitan, ever-changing hive of activity with plenty of restaurants, hotels and activity keeping it buzzing. The convention center and a state-of-the-art sports facility have helped change the face of the city's skyline.

Lucas Oil Stadium, a 63,000-seat multipurpose facility, features a retractable roof and walls that open to showcase the skyline. Built primarily as the home of the Indianapolis Colts, the stadium was the site of the 2012 Super Bowl. It's also used on occasion for the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Indianapolis, also known for its auto-racing heritage, is home to the world-famous Indianapolis 500, NASCAR's Brickyard 400 and the National Drags, and the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts racing events as well as other large-scale festivities. Visitors can take in games of the NBA's Indiana Pacers or the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Cultural tourism hasn't taken a backseat, however. With world-class museums and officially designated cultural districts chock-full of galleries, shops, restaurants and public sculpture, the city's focus remains on the arts and tourism. Indianapolis visitors also can enjoy the famous Indianapolis Zoo.

Must See or Do

Sights—Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, especially the views from the observation deck at the top; the myriad attractions in White River State Park; the downtown canal; the series of war memorials in public parks stretching from the 1905 Federal Building on the south to the library on the north.

Museums—The Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Indiana State Museum for its distinctive, artsy limestone exhibit, IMAX theater and reconstructed department-store tearoom; the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art for its western and Native American art; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum; the Indiana History Center, especially for its music rooms; Indianapolis Art Center, for its Michael Graves-designed building.

Memorable Meals—St. Elmo Steak House for steaks and fine dining alongside Indy's who's who; Sakura Japanese Restaurant for sushi; The Rathskeller and Mesh on Mass for ambience; Iaria's for housemade pasta; Yats for the best low-cost meal in town.

Late Night—Bar-hopping in Broad Ripple Village; blues at the Slippery Noodle Inn; punk rock at the Melody Inn.

Walks—The intersecting greenways of the Indianapolis Canal Walk and the Monon Trail; Butler University's Holcomb Gardens and the nearby grounds and gardens of the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the footpaths of Eagle Creek Park; the Cultural Trail.

Especially for Kids—The world-class Children's Museum of Indianapolis with its Dinosphere and exhibits that inspire young and old alike; living history at Conner Prairie; the Indianapolis Zoo; the RB Annis Western Family Experience at Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Geography

Andrew Ralston, who worked with Pierre L'Enfant on the street layout for Washington, D.C., imposed diagonal streets on the typical midwestern city layout when designing the plan for Indianapolis. He plotted a square with mile-/kilometer-long sides named North Street, South Street, East Street and West Street.

At the center of the original plat is a circle, intended to enclose the governor's mansion on a slight rise in the flat topography of the city but now the location of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Meridian Street, which bisects Monument Circle, is the city's major north-south road. It also divides east and west addresses. The city's major east-west street is Washington Street (a block south of the Circle), and it serves as the dividing line between north and south addresses. Washington Street also marks the original location of the National Road when it came through town in the late 1820s.

The White River meanders through the city from the northeast to the southwest, eventually joining the Wabash River at the border with Illinois. The major suburbs to the north are Zionsville, Carmel, Noblesville and Fishers. To the south are Greenwood and Franklin, with Greenfield in the east and Plainfield, Avon, Danville and Brownsburg in the west. The Indianapolis International Airport is located between Plainfield and Indianapolis.

History

Modern-day Indiana is dotted with former towns and ceremonial sites constructed by ancient tribes, but at the time of colonial expansion, the native people there were nomadic hunters. Rivers were a principal mode of transportation for both the natives and early settlers. During the early days of the white migration into the area, most newcomers arrived via the Ohio River on flatboats. They settled in towns not far from its banks.

The first state capital was Corydon, but by 1820 legislators decided that a modern state should have a capital closer to its geographic center. A group rode north on horseback, eventually choosing a site at the confluence of the White River and Fall Creek. Although neither waterway proved navigable for commercial traffic, the center of the state became an early transportation hub, with the National Road (now U.S. Highway 40) and later, railroads, airports and interstate highways connecting Indianapolis with the rest of the U.S., earning the city the nickname "Crossroads of America."

The automobile industry shaped the city's early history, as it produced such famed brands as Stutz and Marmon. The industrial base has subsequently changed, but its legacy lives on in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Speedrome and the Indianapolis Raceway Park.

In 1969, Indianapolis became one of the first municipalities to experiment with consolidating city and county governments, an effort now entering its second phase. The city's public-private partnerships—business and civic leaders working with politicians to spur economic growth—have added energy to this midwestern city. From the push for amateur-sports development in the 1980s to the current effort to develop cultural tourism, the city remains a top innovator.

Potpourri

The fastest drivers in the Indianapolis 500 can reach speeds up to 240 mph/386 kph along the straightaways. If a driver blinks at that speed, he misses 50 ft/15 m of track.

Several celebrities claim roots in Indianapolis: David Letterman, Jane Pauley, Kurt Vonnegut, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar Robertson and Crispus Attucks.

Indiana Avenue, on the northwest side of downtown, became a jazz incubator during the years between World War II and the mid-1960s, and many musicians, including guitarist Wes Montgomery, honed their skills there.

The Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls and their stories were created by Indianapolis newspaper cartoonist John Gruelle.

Elvis Presley played the last concert of his career in Indianapolis in 1977 in Market Square Arena, now demolished.

Some 70 gallons/265 liters fuel the largest water clock in North America. At 26.5 ft/8 m tall, it resides in the lobby of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

More than half the population of the U.S. lives within a day's drive of Indianapolis.

The downtown of Indianapolis is considered one of the most walkable in the country.


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