You may have lived in the Circle City all your life or you may be new to town. But have you ever really listened to what others say about Indianapolis?
Not only is Indianapolis the 13th largest city in the United States, but it’s a terrific place to live, work, play, eat, shop. In July 2012, Forbes reporter Larry Olmstead said, “Indianapolis is at the top of my list because it combines so many surprising, high-profile attractions with true Midwestern hospitality.”
Additionally, The New York Times ranked Indianapolis as one of the 52 Places to Go in 2014, right among Aspen, Cape Town, Dubai and Thailand. Reporter Elaine Glusac wrote: “In the land of cars, cycling (and culture) get the limelight.”
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 is bursting with pride over its six Cultural Districts: Broad Ripple Village, the Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave and the Wholesale District. Four of the six districts have homes directly in Downtown Indianapolis, and 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 public art, galleries, museums, shops, sporting events restaurants and recreation. Laugh out loud or dance the night away at one of dozens of night clubs and theaters.
- The 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. The eight-mile path serves as the Downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system. It allows users to pass through many destinations that make Indianapolis a recognized leader in the arts community.
- 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, “the best museum” by Child magazine and recently USA Today named it “the best family museum in the country.” Journey back 65 million years to the Cretaceous Period and experience the world of dinosaurs at the Dinosphere exhibit. The 43-foot Fireworks of Glass is the largest permanent sculpture of blown glass ever created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Set to wow the world, the highly anticipated Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit opens this May. See the Emperor’s Painted Army come to life when one of the most amazing archeological finds hits Indianapolis alongside Take Me There: China.
- The Madame Walker Theatre Center 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. 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is adjacent to the Museum and includes 100 of woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake. 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. Coming May 2014, the Zoo will shock the world with the opening of its International Orangutan Center, home to eight energetic, playful and intelligent orangutans.
- Old National Centre is the largest Shrine temple in North America and hosts more than 300 concerts, performances, parties and other events throughout the year.
- The Indiana State Museum currently features Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammothsand Mastodons which brings to life the ancient elephants that once roamed Indiana.
- The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is 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 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon takes place the first Saturday of May. The Mini has sold-out for the past 11 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 the sixth largest running event in America.
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 Silver in the City, to popular national chains like Carson's and T.J. Maxx.
- Circle Centre, Downtown’s world-renowned shopping and entertainment complex, celebrates its 19-year anniversary this year.
- Indianapolis is home to the City Market, a community gathering place and one-stop shop for fresh produce, meat, fish, poultry, dairy and baked goods.
- 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.
The dining options are endless ranging from national eateries like Capital Grille, Fogo De Chao, Weber Grill, Palomino and Ruth’s Chris to the unique local hot spots such as Bru, R Bistro, Harry & Izzy’s and Bazbeaux pizza.
- St. Elmo Steak House was ranked the world’s spiciest shrimp cocktail, one of “10 Great Classic Restaurants Well Worth Visiting,” James Beard Foundation Awards "America's Classics" winner and 44th independent restaurant by sales volume.
- The Slippery Noodle Inn is Indiana’s oldest, continually-operated bar (since 1850). It won the Keeping the Blues Alive - Blues Club of the Year from the Blues Foundation.
- Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles and Yats both made Urban Spoon’s top 100 “America’s Most Popular Cheap Eats” list in Oct. 2, 2012.
- In August 2012, BBC said Indianapolis is“The culinary heart of America’s heartland.”
The Alexander hotel opened in January 2013 with an emphasis on art and design. Its multiple art exhibits were curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The JW Marriott opened its doors in 2011. This is one of the largest JW Marriotts in the world with 1,005 rooms and 145,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It joins more than 30 hotels and bed and breakfasts Downtown. Conrad Indianapolis was voted a “Top U.S. Hotel” by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine's Readers' Choice Awards for the fifth year in a row.
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 sealed the city’s sporting image. In addition, the USHL Indiana Ice is a Tier I junior hockey team.
During any given season, sports fans are sure to find an Indianapolis team to rally or event to attend. From the annual 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.
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.
- Indianapolis is the only city to boast six professional sports teams, playing within a four-block radius, all in the heart of Downtown (NBA Pacers, WNBA Fever, NFL Colts, USHL Ice, AAA Indians and NASL Indy Eleven).
- In 2012 Indianapolis hosted Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. The spectacular venue opened in 2008.
- Lucas Oil Stadium was named the Sports Facility of the Year in by Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal.
- Bankers Life Fieldhouse was ranked the best NBA arena by The Orange County Register.
- 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 hosted the NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Regional Championship in March 2013 and 2014. Downtown will host the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2015. Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments were in Indy from 2008 – 2012 and return in 2014 and 2016. 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.
- The Indianapolis 500 race is the largest, single-day sporting event in the world. Coincidentally, the second largest is the Brickyard 400.
- We hosted the 2005 VISA U.S.A Gymnastics National Championships at Conseco Fieldhouse. Circle of Stars Gymnastics Invitational was in Indy January 2011.
- Indianapolis hosted the 2013 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championships. 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 American Pianists Association supported 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.
- 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 ($150,000) 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 (2014) to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts involving a single animal species or multiple species.
- The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis takes place every four years. Music lovers from all parts of the globe focus their attention on Indianapolis. The 17-day festival features talented violinists from around the world. The 9th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis will take place Sept. 5 – 21, 2014.
You may think that Downtown is complete. Not true. Development momentum remains steady with $3 billion of new construction to be completed by 2018. Since 1990, $9.5 billion have been invested in Downtown.
- Indianapolis leads the pack of “most affordable cities for yuppies.” Indianapolis earns the number one spot after evaluating certain prices of Downtown amenities. Haircuts, manicures, gym memberships, yoga, and pet services were among the categories ranked with the lowest prices in Indianapolis. (Locality report, 2014)
- Indianapolis was ranked as having the No. 1 Downtown in the U.S. The list was based on entertainment options, beautiful architecture and green spaces and the planning that went into the city’s design (Livability.com, 2011).
- Indianapolis was ranked 11th as Best New Boom Towns in the U.S. The list was based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality including job growth, rates of family formation, growth in educated migration, population growth and attractiveness to immigrants to make money and start businesses. (Forbes, 2011)
So next time someone asks you about your city, 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.