Indianapolis is an American city that is the capital of Indiana and the seat of Marion County. It covers an area of three hundred and seventy-two miles and has a population of almost eight hundred thousand residents. It is the largest city in the state and the fourteenth largest in the United States. Indianapolis has seen moderate growth in recent years and has a diverse economy that is based on the education, health care and finance industries. Tourism is also another big chunk of its economy and the city hosts numerous sporting events and conventions.
Up until the early nineteenth century, the area on which Indianapolis is located was occupied by the Miami and Delaware Native American tribes. In 1820, the city was founded as the site for the new state capital. Indianapolis was built on the White River, so the river could be used as a transportation vehicle. This proved to be a false assumption because the river was too sandy to be used for trade. During the 1830s, the Indiana Central Canal was started and it was intended to travel three hundred miles from Logansport, through Indianapolis, and on to Evansville. It was meant to connect the Erie Canal to the Ohio River, thus forging a trade link between Ohio and Indiana. But, the state went bankrupt in 1839 and construction on the project was halted. Today,
portion of the completed Indiana Central Canal and part of the White River have become White River State Park.
In 1847, the Madison and Indianapolis railroad line began service in the city and the population of the city went from eight thousand residents in 1850, to over one hundred and sixty thousand residents by the turn of the century. This was followed by the growth of the automobile industry in the city and a growth of the city’s suburbs. Indianapolis would then earn its nickname, “The Crossroads of America”, by becoming a regional transportation hub connecting to parts of the Midwest such as Saint Louis, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati and Columbus. Four interstate highways connect at the city, these include I- 65, I-69, I-70 and I-74. During the twentieth century, the city enjoyed a period of great prosperity and made dramatic cultural, social and economic gains. This was due in part to the discovery of a large natural gas deposit in Trenton Field. A couple of years later, oil was discovered in the area. The Indiana state government started a ground breaking program that offered free gas to factories that were established there. As a result, there was a large increase in the automobile and glass manufacturing industries that existed in the city. The golden age of Indianapolis was short lived, however. By 1912, the natural gas deposits were depleted and by the 1930’s the oil deposits were also depleted.
Today, Indianapolis has a huge park system that contains two hundred parks spread over ten thousand acres. The largest park in the city is Eagle Creek Park. Eagle Creek Park covers fourteen hundred acres of a reservoir and almost four thousand acres of land. This park serves as a nature reserve, but also contains many amenities for visitors. These include a golf course, amphitheater, bait shop, boat ramp, fishing areas, bird sanctuary, pistol ranges, archery ranges, beach, ornithology center, bark park, canoe rentals, The Indianapolis Rowing Center and Earth Discovery Center. Other parks in the city include White River State Park, Southwestway Park, Southeastway Park, Riverside Park, Garfield Park and Sahm Park.
A popular attraction in Indianapolis is the Indianapolis Zoo. This zoo was originally opened in 1964 and was relocated to White River State Park in 1988. It covers an area of sixty-four acres and has over one and a half million visitors each and every year. The zoo plays a major role in worldwide conservation and research and contains an aquarium and a botanical garden. Indianapolis Zoo has five sections that represent different climates. These areas are Temperate and Tropical Forests, Oceans, Deserts, Plains and Encounters. The Encounters area allows visitors to get up and close to the animals and learn more about them by working with them instead of just observing them. This zoo has over three hundred and sixty species of animals and it has the following amenities; Underwater Dolphin Dome, Marsh Dolphin Theater, Cheetahs Exhibit, Gorilla Exhibit and Dolphin In-Water Adventure. Animals featured in this zoo include white rhinoceros, harbor seals, giraffes, grey seals, African elephants, Bonnethead Sharks, rockhopper penguins, rabbits, horses and Red Pandas.
Another popular attraction in the city is the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This art museum was founded in October of 1883. The museum has a collection of over fifty thousand works of art that serves a wide cross section of art history, Exhibits here include Eli Lilly Collection of Chinese Art, Japanese Painting, R. Norris Shreve Collection of Chinese Jade, Chinese Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Asian Textiles, The Clowes Collection, Eiteljorg Collection of African Art, African Textiles, Neo-Impressionism, Caroline Marmon Fesler Painting Collection, American Impressionism, The Josefowitz Collection of Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven, Indiana Paintings, Pantzer Collection of Works by J.M.W. Turner, English and European Porcelain of the
18th and 19th Centuries, Gifts of the Gamboliers, Fashion Arts and the Marilyn and Eugene Glick Collection of Studio Glass. Located close to this art museum is the Oldfields Lilly House & Gardens and Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.
Other popular attractions in Indianapolis include The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Medal of Honor Memorial, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum, Indiana Medical History Museum, Post Road Recreation Center, President Benjamin Harrison Home, Indiana War Memorial, NCAA Hall of Champions Sports Museum, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indiana State Museum, The Murat Center, Fort Harrison State Park, Scottish Rite Cathedral, Caribbean Cove Indoor Water Park, Hook’s American Drugstore Museum, Indiana Historical Society, Morris-Butler House, Space Quest Planetarium, American Super Heroes Museum, Indy Racing Experience and Climb Time Indy.