You may have lived in the Circle City all your life or be relatively new to town. But have you ever really listened to what others say about Indianapolis? Two decades ago, it may have been, “Why do I have to spend my weekends here?” Indianapolis has been recognized as the amateur sports capitol of the world over the years; it has blossomed into much more.
Not only is Indianapolis the 11th largest city in the United States, but it’s a terrific place to live, work, play, eat, shop… and the list goes on and on.
In April 2011, Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Williams exclaimed, “We said Indianapolis was perfect. Because if like most Americans you come from a small- to average-size metropolis, Indy is a perfectly sized, bustling jewel with plenty to do, including museums, upscale dining, an outdoor sculpture garden and the symphony.”
Most people who reside in Indianapolis are proud of their city, but may not know ALL the fun facts that can be shared with friends, relatives and visitors. Consider this your Indianapolis “Brag Session.”
- Indianapolis Cultural Trail, A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick is a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities, and serves as the Downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system. The eight-mile path allows users to pass by and through many destinations that make Indianapolis a recognized leader in the arts community. The trail will be completed by 2012.
- Indianapolis boasts The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, not only the largest museum of its kind in the world, but also rated as one of the “top ten museums in the U.S. for families” by AOL Travel online and “the best museum” by Child magazine. Among the interactive, hands-on attractions are the Dinosphere featuring life-size, roaring dinosaur skeletons and simulated fossil digs. In 2006, the 43-foot Fireworks of Glass was installed, the largest permanent sculpture of blown glass ever created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Since then, the museum has expanded even more, adding a fabulous new lobby, new exhibits and more.
- Indianapolis is home to the Madame Walker Theatre Center, which stands as a memorial to America’s first female self-made millionaire, Madam C. J. Walker.
- The Indianapolis Museum of Art was ranked by USA Today as one of the top 10 locations for marriage proposals -- in front of the famous LOVE sculpture. Adjacent to the Museum and located on 100 acres that includes woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake is the 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. The park opened in June 2010 and is one of the largest museum art parks in the country, and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific artworks.
- The Indianapolis Zoo is the first institution to be triple-accredited as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. The zoo's Oceans exhibit features the world's largest shark touch tank; while the Dolphin Adventure offers the world's first totally submerged dolphin viewing experience. In March 2011, the zoo opened its two newest exhibits: Warthogs and Bats; in May 2011, Tiger Forest.
- The Old National Centre (originally named the Murat Temple when it opened in 1910) is the largest Shrine temple in North America.
- The Indiana State Museum features art, science and culture. The museum not only has exhibits inside, but is an exhibit itself with its 92-county walk, Indiana material-made exterior and more. Enjoy the Summer Sounds Concert Series on the Canal Cafe Terrace each third Wednesday of the month, May through August.
- Indianapolis houses the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, one of only two museums east of the Mississippi with both Native American and Western art.
- Indianapolis is second only to Washington, D.C. in its number of monuments and memorials commemorating veterans.
- The 36th Running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon will take place May 5. The Mini has sold-out for the past nine years with 35,000 registrants, and an additional 4,000 participants in the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K. The Mini-Marathon is the largest half-marathon in the U.S., and overall, the sixth largest running event in America.
Anyone would agree there’s A LOT to do in Downtown Indianapolis. People of all ages can be entertained at numerous museums and historic sites, performing arts and theatres, memorials and parks, major sports venues and various unique attractions.
If you want to see what’s only in Indianapolis, discover Indianapolis’ Cultural Districts.
Indianapolis is bursting with pride over its six unique Cultural Districts: Broad Ripple Village, The Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave and Wholesale District. Four of the six districts have homes directly in Downtown Indianapolis, while Fountain Square is just a mile southeast and Broad Ripple Village nine miles northeast. The districts showcase distinct pockets of cultural opportunity thriving in the city. You’ll find delightful public art, unique galleries, inspiring museums, quaint shops and engaging recreation. Satisfy your appetite at exquisite restaurants, ethnic eateries and cafes. Laugh out loud or dance the night away at one of dozens of night clubs and theaters. The districts also have your ticket to professional sports and performances.
Downtown is home to baby elephants, Duckpin Bowling, a working indoor carousel, a world-class symphony orchestra, a 55-foot “Indiana” sculpture, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and so much more to explore.
In recent years, Indianapolis has continued its reputation for Amazingly Always New attractions such as Rhythm! Discovery Center in 2009, Cheetahs: Race for Survival at the Indianapolis Zoo in 2010 and plenty of new Downtown residences to be close to the action!
- Circle Centre, Downtown’s world-renowned shopping and entertainment complex, celebrates its 17-year anniversary in 2012.
- Indianapolis is home to the 1886 City Market, which has remained a ‘market’ ever since and recently underwent a makeover to further enhance the market.
- Indianapolis’ Mass Ave, one of the few remaining diagonal streets on the original 1821 plat, is Downtown’s premier arts and entertainment district where people live, work and play in the same eight-block area.
- Downtown Indianapolis has nearly 300 eating and drinking establishments to enjoy.
With more than 210 shops Downtown, residents and visitors can enjoy everything from the trendy, one-of-a-kind shops such as Windsor Jewelry Company or At Home in the City/Silver in the City, to the popular national chains like Carson Pirie Scott and T.J. Maxx.
The JW Marriott hotel opened its doors in 2011. This is the largest JW Marriot in the world with 1,005 rooms and 145,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It joins more than 30 quality hotels and bed & breakfasts Downtown.
- TripAdvisor named Conrad Indianapolis a Top 25 U.S. Hotel from its 2010 Traveler's Choice awards.
- In 2012, Indianapolis will host Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. The spectacular new venue opened in 2008.
- Lucas Oil Stadium was named the Sports Facility of the Year in May 2009 by Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal.
- The American Football Coaches Association will hold its annual convention in Indianapolis in 2014 and 2019.
- Indianapolis is home to a football team of world champion caliber. In 2010 the Indianapolis Colts returned to Super Bowl XLIV. In 2006, the Indianapolis Colts dominated the Chicago Bears for a Super Bowl XLI victory.
- Indianapolis is the only city to have hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four three times in a decade: 1991, 1997 and 2000. Downtown hosted again in 2006 and 2010 and is set for 2015 too. In 2005, the city hosted the NCAA Women’s Final Four for the first time and hosted again in 2011. (The Sporting News named Indianapolis as the "Best Final Four Host" stating "there's no better basketball town than Indy.")
- Indianapolis IS basketball in March. The city hosts the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments from 2008 – 2012. The Women’s Tourney also visited in 2007. Indianapolis hosted the World Basketball Championship, which is held every four years, in 2002. This was the first time in the event’s 52-year history that it had ever taken place in the United States.
- Indianapolis played host to the USA Swimming Nationals and ConocoPhillips Swimming Championships and World Championship Trials in July 2009. Indianapolis also welcomed the USA Diving Olympic Team Trials in 2008.
- The city hosted the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2006 and 2007 at the Indiana University Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium.
- Indianapolis ranked as the second best sports host city in the U.S. in May 2009 in The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live by Robert Tuchman
Of course, Indianapolis earned its bragging rights early as the amateur sports capital of the world. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long been noted as the city’s icon.
The addition of Victory Field, “the Best Minor League Ballpark in America" according to Sports Illustrated, as well as the state-of-the-art Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium, have furthered the city’s sporting image. In addition, the USHL Indiana Ice is a Tier I junior hockey team that entertains the Indianapolis community.
During any given season, sports fans are sure to find an Indianapolis team to rally or event to attend. From the annual Coca-Cola Circle City Classic or Indiana High School Athletics Association championships to the Big Ten Women’s and Men’s Basketball Tournaments, the action is non-stop.
What’s more, various national governing bodies either originated in or have moved their headquarters to Indianapolis including the Black Coaches Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association, USA Gymnastics Federation, USA Track & Field, USA Diving, Inc., U.S. Synchronized Swimming and others.
- The American Pianists Association has been supporting aspiring young artists for more than 25 years. Unique Fellowships, both classical and jazz, offer significant opportunities for American pianists, ages 18-30, to advance their careers. Each Fellowship is valued at more than $75,000 including cash awards, fees, publicity and recording opportunities.
- The Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art program has awarded more than $1.5 million in unrestricted grants and art purchases and added more than 125 pieces of art by 35 Native American fine artists to its permanent collection over the last 10 years. This biennial program is one-of-a-kind in the world for Native Americans and first nations and has led to the distinction of having “the finest collection of Native contemporary art in the world.”
- The Indianapolis Prize, presented by the Indianapolis Zoo, is the largest individual monetary award ($100,000) for animal species conservation in the world and is given as an unrestricted gift to the chosen honoree. The Prize is given every other year to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts involving a single animal species or multiple species.
You may think that Downtown is complete. Not true. Development momentum remains steady with $3 billion of new construction to be completed by 2017. Since 1990, nearly $9 billion have been invested in Downtown.
- The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis takes place every four years. Music lovers from all parts of the globe focus their attention on "The Indianapolis" - now regarded as one of the most respected music competitions in the world. The 17-day festival, the most recent being Sept. 10 – 26, 2010, featured talented violinists from around the world.
- Indianapolis ranks ninth among major metropolitan areas for economic development projects according to a survey by Site Selection magazine. The annual survey, which tallies the total number of new and expanded corporate facilities, reports 79 completed projects in the Indianapolis area in 2010.
- Compared with other large metros in the greater Midwest, Indy was No. 1 for population growth from 2000-2009, growing almost 14 percent, or close to 60 percent faster than the United States as a whole,” said Aaron Renn, Urbanophile blog writer (From the Indianapolis Business Journal, Jan. 10, 2011).
So, next time someone asks you about your town, you can quote Indianapolis native David Letterman. “I’m very, very proud of the fact that I was born and spent most of my life in that wonderful community of Indianapolis. It’s a great city."
Thanks, Dave. We think Indianapolis is pretty wonderful too.