Welcome to Indianapolis

The Circle City has it all. Take a look.

Standout buildings and places. Two downtown landmarks, Monument Circle and Indiana War Memorial Plaza, are among America’s great urban spaces. The Circle centers the city and furnishes its “Circle City” calling card. The 24-acre plaza (think greenspace and monuments, like Washington, D.C.’s National Mall) gives Indy the distinction of devoting more acreage to honoring veterans than any other city; it’s second to D.C. in number of war memorials. The plaza, a National Historic Landmark, represents one of our defining traits: serving the country. In the Civil War, 75 percent of eligible men from Indiana joined the Union army, second to Delaware in per-capita enlistment. And since then, Indiana’s war casualties have numbered double the national average.

Innovation that attracts the eyes of the world. While famous for fast cars, our city is winning praise for reinventing the bicycle and pedestrian experience in a downtown, too. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has been called “an astonishing and amazing vision” by national civic-development experts. And the art world was paying attention when the Indianapolis Museum of Art unveiled the largest contemporary-art park (100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park) in the country in June 2010.

Hidden gems where you least expect them. Stately on the outside, the Indiana War Memorial stuns visitors with its grandiose interior spaces.

A commitment to green. Indianapolis International Airport isn’t just America’s newest; it’s also one of the world’s most environmentally friendly. More than 90 percent of the materials used to build it came from within 500 miles.

Growth and prosperity. Compared to much of the Midwest, Indianapolis has a profile closer to the Sun Belt than to the Rust Belt. In contrast to many shrinking cities in the region, Indy is attracting people, with its population growing 50 percent faster than the national average. And the city is showing impressive gains in industries such as life sciences and technology.

A diverse population. With 40,000 foreign-born moving to Indianapolis since 2000, the city is adding international residents at a faster pace than even Chicago. Indy is now home to growing Mexican, Chinese, Sikh, Burmese and Nigerian communities.

A rich African-American legacy. A century ago, cosmetics entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker of Indy made a name as the country’s first female to become a self-made millionaire. The cultural district surrounding the Walker Theatre celebrates her accomplishments. And today, the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is the largest cultural or ethnic event in the United States.

Distinct neighborhoods. With a diverse roster of residential areas, from downtown’s quaint Lockerbie Square to its retro Fountain Square to funky Broad Ripple not far away, Indy feels like home.

Unique local cuisine. Farm-to-table is more of a philosophy than a trend here. Chefs at top independent restaurants have long partnered with Indiana farmers to bring the freshest ingredients to the menu. Indy’s signature nosh, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, is often as big as the plate on which it’s served.

Championship sports. Downtown boasts three remarkable pro-sports venues. The Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl champs in 2007, rule the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, which has the largest rectractable roof in the NFL. For the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, home court is Bankers Life Fieldhouse, just named the best basketball arena in the country by Sports Business Journal. In season, the Indianapolis Indians play AAA baseball at Victory Field, one of the most picturesque ballparks in any city.

History and cherished traditions. To get a glimpse, visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, built 101 years ago, or the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse, site of the 1954 “Milan Miracle” that inspired the basketball film Hoosiers.

Mostly, it’s the spirit of the people of Indianapolis that sets our city apart. An artificial city laid down on the swampy marshes of a non-navigable river, Indy should have been a sleepy, small-town state capital. But with humility and competitive spirit, a quietly determined people created a great city from the ground up. Endowed with few natural advantages, the city was built by people who did not accept excuses. From those pioneers of the early days to Madam Walker rising to riches when African-Americans lacked opportunity to the legendary battles at the Speedway to a downtown full of construction cranes in the middle of a recession, Indianapolis is the city that won’t quit.

Today that spirit is as alive and strong as ever. We’ve come a long way, but we still haven’t reached our potential. So while you delight in our sights and activities, be sure to get to know the people of Indianapolis. Treat yourself to the famous local hospitality, and be sure to come back soon to see what our determined attitude will create here tomorrow.

Welcome to our great city. Welcome to Indianapolis.

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