Once exclusively known as a high-octane racing town, Indianapolis has blossomed into a booming metropolis throughout recent years, with a lively cultural scene creating buzz across the country. As Indiana's capital and largest city, Indianapolis is home to 876,804 residents, making it the 13th largest city in the United States and the 2nd most populous capital behind Phoenix. Massive revitalization of the downtown core has given Indianapolis a new spirit, bringing a fresh, sophisticated vibe that still manages to remain faithful to the area's elaborate history and famous Hoosier hospitality.
Prior to its founding, the area that is now Indianapolis consisted of dense forest and prairieland. When it was selected as the capital of the Union's 19th state by the Indiana General Assembly in 1821, Judge Jeremiah Sullivan invented the city's name by merging Indiana with polis, the Greek word for city. Spanning 396 square miles across America's heartland, Indianapolis is located in the geographic center of Indiana where four interstate highways (I-65, I-69, I-70 and I-74) and four federal highways meet. Indianapolis is also home to the first railroad to have all of its lines meet at one station, resulting in its being known as the "Crossroads of America."
An emerging hotbed of arts and culture, Indianapolis has six thriving cultural districts: Broad Ripple Village, Fountain Square, the Canal and White River State Park, Massachusetts Avenue Arts and Theater District, the Wholesale District and Indiana Avenue. Each with its own distinctive offerings, these charming boroughs provide visitors with an eclectic mix of eateries, theaters, historic sites, galleries, boutiques, one-of-a-kind attractions and recreational activities. From the art collection at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art to the racing vehicles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, Indianapolis offers an appealing blend of culture from both the past and present. Peppered amid Indianapolis' scenic canals, greenways and waterways, these distinctive districts offer visitors all of the exciting cultural benefits of a major metropolis within an easily managed, pedestrian-friendly setting.
Although the city has progressed in recent years, Indianapolis has not lost its status as the world's place to race. It is home to the world's two largest single-day sporting events, the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400, as well as the largest drag racing event in the country, the National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals. Beyond racing, it has been host to the 2002 World Basketball Championship, the 1987 Pan American Games and both men's and women's NCAA Basketball tournaments. In addition to the magnetic draw of Indianapolis' acclaimed sports culture, there are a number of must-see attractions that sweeten the city's flavorful appeal, such as the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Conner Prairie, the Indianapolis Zoo and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial.