Profile: Indianapolis, Indiana

Brush up on the basic facts about the capital of Indiana.
By: Susan McKee
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Population: 784,000 (city); 2 million (metro area)

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5

Major Airport: Indianapolis International Airport

Companies with a Major Presence: Eli Lilly and Company, General Motors, Clarian Health, St. Vincent Health and Hospital Corp., Purdue University, Allison Transmission Inc., Rolls Royce Corp., Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and FedEx.

Indianapolis didn't start as a commercial center. There wasn't even an ancient human settlement on the site, although a significant trail used by Native Americans passed through the area. When the state of Indiana was established in 1816, its capital was near the Ohio River, in the southern part of the state.

The new state's leaders knew that if the territory was to grow and prosper, the capital city needed to be moved to the middle of the state. So a group set out on horseback in 1820 and selected a spot for a new city where Fall Creek flowed into White River, which they thought would provide a highway to the Ohio River.

The White River turned out to be too shallow for commercial navigation, but the location of the new city of Indianapolis proved a benefit in the long run. The first major road construction by the U.S. government, the National Road, passed right through town in the early 1800s, leading to a stream of settlers from the east. And the arrival of the railroad in the 1840s made Indiana's capital go boom.

Later, Indianapolis acquired the nickname of "Crossroads of America", and today rail lines and interstate highways continue its reputation as a transportation hub. The town also has a reputation as a serious sports town: It's home to the Indianapolis 500, the NBA's Indiana Pacers and the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

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