Indianapolis (abbreviated Indy ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana, and also the county seat of Marion County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population is 820,445. It is the 13th largest city in the United States and the 29th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Historically, Indianapolis has oriented itself around government (a byproduct of its state capital function) and industry, particularly manufacturing. Over the late decades of the 20th century, the city's Unigov began a long process to revitalize the downtown area. Today, Indianapolis has a much more diversified economy, contributing to the fields of education, health care, and finance. Tourism is also a vital part of the economy of Indianapolis, with the city playing host to numerous conventions and sporting events. Of these, perhaps the most well known are the annual Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, and NHRA U.S. Nationals. Other major sporting events include the annual Big Ten Conference football championship, Men's and Women's NCAA basketball tournaments. Indianapolis also hosted the Pan American Games in 1987 and Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
Both Forbes and Livability.com rank Indianapolis as one of the best downtowns in the United States citing "more than 200 retail shops, more than 35 hotels, nearly 300 restaurants and food options, movie theaters, sports venues, museums, art galleries and parks" as attractions. Greater Indianapolis has seen moderate growth among U.S. cities. The population of the metropolitan statistical area was 1,756,241 according to the 2010 Census, making it the 34th-largest in the United States. The 2010 population of the Indianapolis combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 2,080,782, the 23rd-largest in the country. Indianapolis is considered a gamma global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2013, the city won Sister Cities International's 2013 Best Overall Program award for jurisdictions of population 500,000 and above.
Indianapolis was selected as the site of the new state capital in 1820, the old state capital having been Corydon since the formation of the state of Indiana in 1816. While most American state capitals tend to be located in the central region of their respective states, Indianapolis is the closest capital to being placed in the exact center of its state. It was founded on the White River both because of this, and because of the incorrect assumption that the river would serve as a major transportation artery. However, the waterway eventually proved to be too sandy for trade. Jeremiah Sullivan, a judge of the Indiana Supreme Court, invented the name Indianapolis by joining Indiana with polis, the Greek word for city; Indianapolis literally means "Indiana City". 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, D.C. Ralston's original plan for Indianapolis called for a city of only one square mile (3 km²). At the center of the city sat Governor's Circle, a large circular commons, which was to be the site of the governor's mansion. Meridian and Market Streets converge at the Circle and continue north–south and east–west, respectively. The Capital moved from Corydon on January 10, 1825. The governor's mansion was eventually demolished in 1857 and in its place stands a tall neoclassical limestone and bronze monument, the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. The surrounding street is now known as Monument Circle or just "The Circle".
The city lies on the original east–west National Road. The first railroad to serve Indianapolis, the Madison and Indianapolis, began operation on October 1, 1847, and subsequent railroad connections made expansive growth possible. Indianapolis was the home of the first Union Station, or common rail passenger terminal, in the United States. By the turn of the 20th century, Indianapolis had become a large automobile manufacturer, rivaling the likes of Detroit. With roads leading out of the city in all directions, Indianapolis became a major hub of regional transport connecting to Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis, befitting the capital of a state whose nickname is "The Crossroads of America". This same network of roads would allow quick and easy access to suburban areas in future years.
City population grew rapidly throughout the first half of the 20th century. While rapid suburbanization began to take place in the second half of the century, race relations deteriorated. Even so, on the night that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Indianapolis was one of the few major cities in which rioting did not occur. Many credit the speech by Robert F. Kennedy, who was in town campaigning for President that night, for helping to calm the tensions. Racial tensions heightened in 1970 with the passage of Unigov, which further isolated the middle class from Indianapolis's growing African American community. Although Indianapolis and the state of Indiana abolished segregated schools just prior to Brown vs. Board of Education, the later action of court-ordered school desegregation busing by Judge S. Hugh Dillin was a controversial change.
In 1970, non-Hispanic whites were about 80 percent of the population. The 1970s and 1980s ushered in a period of planning and revitalization for the urban core of Indianapolis. Changes came early with the reorientation of the city’s government. Unigov was created as the result of a 1970 consolidation between city and county government. The city of Indianapolis merged most government services with those of Marion County. For the most part, this resulted in a unification of Indianapolis with its immediate suburbs. This caused the boundaries of the city to grow tremendously, reflected in Indianapolis’ jump in ranking to the nation's 11th largest city in 1970. The City-County Building housed the newly consolidated government. At its completion, the City-County Building became the city’s tallest building and the first building in the city to be taller than the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Amidst the changes in government and growth, the city’s role as a major transportation hub and tourist destination was further strengthened with the Weir Cook Municipal Airport receiving its international designation in 1975.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Indianapolis suffered at the hands of urban decay and white flight. Major revitalization of the city's blighted areas, such as Fall Creek Place and Downtown Indianapolis, began in the 1980s and led to an acceleration of growth on the fringes of the metropolitan area. The openings of the RCA Dome, Circle Centre, and the Indianapolis Artsgarden revitalized the central business district. The city hosted the 1987 Pan American Games. The city and state have invested heavily in improvement projects such as an expansion to the Indiana Convention Center, upgrade of the I-465 beltway, and construction of an entirely new airport terminal for the Indianapolis International Airport. Construction of the Indianapolis Colts' new home, Lucas Oil Stadium, was completed in August 2008, and the hotel and convention center expansion were completed in early 2011.
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