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Indianapolis Indiana

INTRODUCTION

Indianapolis is Indiana's capital and largest city, and one of the largest in the United States. In recent years, as the city approaches one million residents, the economy has diversified, and taken an active role in promoting culture and activity, in particular amateur sports.

HISTORY

Prior to European development, the region now occupied by Indianapolis was considered mostly uninhabitable, as it was largely marshy swamp land. It is commonly believed that in March of 1819, George Pogue arrived from nearby Connersville and built a log cabin along the creek (believed to be where modern Michigan Street intersects Pogue‘s Run).

An alternative version has Pogue arriving in 1820, and claiming an abandoned cabin built by Ute Perkins in 1819 who moved to Rush County. A third version has one John McCormick as the first European settler, arriving in 1820, and building a cabin along the White River. The White River site is now part of the White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis.

Whatever the case, the site of Pogue’s cabin was along a path used by First Nations tribes, but soon became known as Pogue’s Run.

After extensive efforts to clean up the marsh, and rid the swamp of mosquitoes, the settlement began to grow. A grid pattern was laid out surrounding Pogue’s Run, and in 1821 an architect was commissioned to design the new city. Alexander Ralston, an architect who helped Pierre L’Enfant develop Washington, DC, won the job.

The city was to evolve around the plans for an elaborate Governor’s Mansion at the center of town. Apart from Pogue’s Run, the grid pattern of streets and residences fell into place smoothly. So much so, that in early 1825 the state capital was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis.

IN 1827, the Governor’s Mansion was completed, but no governor ever moved in. In 1857, the mansion was torn down, and Governor’s Circle became unused land (it would remain so until the erecting of the Civil War monument in 1888).

The Indiana Central Canal was constructed in 1836, intending to increase the reach of the capital throughout the state. Within three years, however, development stopped due to the state’s increasing debt. The completed section are now part of White River State Park.

The railroad came to town, arriving in 1847. The population began to grow as the new transportation routes boosted the economy.

In 1854, future president Benjamin Harrison moved to Indianapolis, where he reported on the actions of the Supreme Court.

In 1860, chemist Eli Lilly opened his first drug store in downtown Indianapolis. When the Civil War broke out, Lilly joined the Union Army, serving as Captain. His success in battle earned him the rank of Colonel.

In 1963, several Democrats threw weapons into Pogue’s Run to avoid capture by Union soldiers looking for illegal weapons.

In 1864, Crown Hill Cemetery was dedicated as a resting place for Civil War soldiers. The cemetery is now the resting place for several local and national figures, from soldiers to poets, inventors and athletes. Among its most famous names, former President Benjamin Harrison (and several vice presidents), Olympic medalist John Woodruff and notorious bank robber John Dillinger.

In 1876, Eli Lilly founded the Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical organization, now one of the world’s largest (and a Fortune magazine America’s Top 100 company). The company now generates nearly 20 billion dollars annually.

In 1879, Lilly began a movement for establishing a public water supply, which would grow into the Indianapolis Water Company.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art was founded in 1883. A large natural gas deposit was found in 1886, creating a new economic force. The discovery of oil soon followed.

In 1887, after leaving the Presidency behind, Benjamin Harrison returned to Indianapolis. He would die of influenza and pneumonia in 1901.

IN 1888, a impressive monument was erected on the site of the former Governor’s Mansion. The 284 foot tall Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was carved from limestone and cast with bronze to honor the veterans of the American Revolution known as Hoosiers. While the origin of the term is somewhat unclear, it is now generally accepted to refer to someone from Indiana. The monument includes an observatory and a basement museum, dedicated to the Civil War, named after veteran Colonel Eli Lilly.

In 1890, the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis formed out of the merger of DePauw University and the Benjamin Harrison Law School, named for the former president. Among its most famous alumni are former Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn.

By the end of the century, as the economy grew, the population had more than tippled. Industrial production began to shape the city’s future, and at one time Indianapolis is said to have rivaled Detroit in automotive production. The new means of transportation did more than boost the economy, it shaped the city’s culture.

In 1903, bank robber John Dillinger was born in the city. While he was killed outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, in 1934, he would be buried in Crown Hill Cemetery (Lot 94). His grave is a popular tourist site, and is often vandalized by fans looking for souvenirs.

In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened to the excitement of nearly 400,000 spectators (including the infield seating). The speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR‘s Allstate 400, is the largest and highest capacity sports venue in the world. The races would only stop for the World Wars.

Over the following decades, the city prospered as industry and shipping became prominent staples of American business. The increased vigor led to great developments in culture and changing times.

In 1925, racing hit record speeds of 100 mph (160 km/h). The city also founded the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, one of the largest children’s museums in the world.

The depression era affected the economy considerably, but the culture remained strong. Racing continued, though the prize money dropped from $50,000 to $18,000.

In spite of this, the city grew, opening the Weir-Cook Airport in 1931. The airport was named after flying ace and veteran of both the first and second world wars, Harvey Weir-Cook. The airport became the Indianapolis International Airport in 1975.

Unfortunately, the strong economy and heavy population growth led to increased tensions, and in the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan (also known as the KKK) came to town. The Indiana chapter of the Klan grew into one of the most powerful branches of the organization, and made efforts to dominate political life throughout the state. In the wake of several scandals towards the end of the 1920s, including rape and bribery, the clan began to lose its influence, finally disbanding in 1944.

Legend has it that in 1950, the CIA commissioned the Eli Lilly Company to mass produce lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as the popular psychedelic counter culture drug LSD.

The renowned Indianapolis Zoo opened in 1964, and now hosts nearly 1.5 million visitors annually.

In 1968, after learning of the assassination of civil rights icon and cultural legend Martin Luther King Jr, presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy delivered a now famous speech on race relations in Indianapolis.

1969 saw a major change in academics in the city, with the creation of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, formed out of the merger of six independent institutions.

In the early 1970s, Indianapolis merged city and county governments, forging a deeper union with the city and the suburbs. The economy remained strong, with several visionary investments boosting the economy (in 1971, the Eli Lilly Company purchased Arden Cosmetics for 38 million dollars, later to be sold for more than 650 million). By the end of the 20th century, the company would begin major expansion efforts that would create more than 7,000 jobs in the city.

Urban renewal revitalized the city, leading to the opening of several major features, such as Indiana Convention Center (1983), the innovative Hoosier Dome (1984. now the RCA Dome) and the Circle Center mall (1995). The Eiteljorg Museum opened in 1989, showcasing Western and Native American art and cultural history.

Modern Indianapolis enjoys a growing economy and reputation as one of the finest cities for sporting entertainment. Virtually all major automotive events had been hosted here, as well as several marathons and golf tournaments. In 2007, the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl XLI, and the city swarmed the streets.

In the new millennium, Indianapolis has enjoyed impressive growth. Higher education is growing in importance, and several notable national figures have studied in the city (from presidential candidates to astronauts to sports celebrities). Indianapolis is also enjoying a strong cultural surge, starting several festivals (such as the annual Indy Jazz Fest), and has welcomed several international artists from Chris Isaak to Ray Charles. International events are also flowing into the city, such as Gen-Con (the largest role playing convention in the world) and the annual Star Wars Celebration (celebrations II and III were held at the convention center), drawing Sci-Fi fans from around the world.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Power: 120 V, 60 Hz

Languages: English

Climate: Indianapolis enjoys a humid, mid-continental climate with hot and humid summers. Temperatures average below 100 Fahrenheit, with occasional spells of higher temperatures. Temperatures drop during the fall, leading to colder winters, slightly above freezing. However, occasional below freezing spells are not uncommon. As the spring sets in, and temperatures rise, the humidity increases and Indianapolis is known for frequent rains.

Currency: US Dollar

Time Zone: EST (UTC-5) - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)

ATTRACTIONS

American Super Heroes Museum
Conner Prairie
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indiana State Museum
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

There are plenty more things to do in Indianapolis.

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