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Welcome to Indianapolis, Indiana


Indianapolis, the largest city in Indiana and seat of Marion County, is located in the central part of the state on the West Fork of the White River. Its name derives from combining “Indiana” with “polis,” the Greek word for city.

Indianapolis was settled in 1820, and five years later it was chosen as the state capital. It was incorporated as a city in 1832 and reincorporated in 1838. The city's growth began when the railroad reached it in 1847. Toward the end of the 19th century, the discovery of nearby natural gas and the start of the automobile industry hastened its industrial expansion. In 1970, Indianapolis merged with surrounding Marion County.

Indianapolis is at the center of a rich agricultural region and is a major grain and livestock market. It is also a focal point of commerce, transportation, and manufacturing for the region. Some leading industries are electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food processing. The financial sector and service and insurance industries are growing rapidly.

Indianapolis has shed its image as a Rust Belt city, due in part to an aggressive downtown revitalization campaign. The diversification of the city's economic base since the 1960s has also contributed to this transformation. A large part of this diversification involves the hosting of events, especially sporting events. The labels of The Amateur Sports Capital of the World, and The Racing Capital of the World, have both been applied to Indianapolis. The city has hosted the 1987 Pan American Games, both Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the United States Grand Prix (2000-2007), and is perhaps most famous for the annual Indianapolis 500. The attendance at both the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400 makes them the largest two single day sporting events in the world, with well over 250,000 fans in attendance at each. Indianapolis has the second most monuments inside city limits, behind only Washington D.C.[citation needed]. There have also been two United States Navy vessels named after Indianapolis, including the famous USS Indianapolis (CA-35) which suffered the worst single at-sea loss of life in the history of the U.S. Navy.

The Indianapolis metropolitan area is among the fastest growing in the Midwest and the United States, with growth centered in the surrounding counties of Hamilton, Hendricks, and Johnson. Hamilton and Hendricks Counties are currently the fastest growing counties in Indiana. Currently, the Combined Statistical Area stands at 1,984,644, making it the 23rd largest in the U.S.

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in 1898.
 The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in 1898.

In the 1970s and 1980s Indianapolis suffered at the hands of urban decay and white flight. Major revitalization of the city's blighted areas, such as Fall Creek Place, and especially the downtown, occurred in the 1990s and led to an acceleration of growth in and around the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. The city's relative flat terrain allows for easy access to areas in and around the city.

The opening of Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis signaled a revitalization continued. Currently, the city is experiencing growth in the hospitality industry with the Convention Center expansion and the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium. A new Conrad Hotel will be built to add more hotel rooms. This adds to the growing list of downtown accommodations and restaurants. Indianapolis International Airport is currently building a new midfield airport terminal. Both the stadium and aiport are expected to open late in 2008 with the hotel and convention center sometime in 2010.


According to the United States Census Bureau, "the balance" (that part of Marion County not part of another municipality) has a total area of 368.2 square miles (953.5 km²)—361.5 square miles (936.2 km²) of it is land and 6.7 square miles (17.3 km²) of it is water. The total area is 1.81% water. These figures are slightly misleading because they do not represent the entire Consolidated City of Indianapolis (all of Marion County, except the four excluded communities). The total area of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, which does not count the four excluded communities, covers approximately 373.1 square miles (966.3 km²).

At the center of Indianapolis is the One-Mile Square, bounded by four appropriately-named streets: East, West, North, and South Streets. Nearly all of the streets in the Mile Square are named after U.S. states. (The exceptions are Meridian Street, which numerically divides west from east; Market Street, which intersects Meridian Street at Monument Circle; Capitol and Senate Avenues, where many of the Indiana state government buildings are located; and Washington Street, which was named after President George Washington. The street-numbering system centers not on the Circle, but rather one block to the south, where Meridian Street intersects Washington Street — National Road.)

Indianapolis is situated in the Central Till Plains region of the United States. Two natural waterways dissect the city: the White River, and Fall Creek.

Physically, Indianapolis is similar to many other Midwestern cities. A mix of deciduous forests and prairie covered much of what is considered Indianapolis prior to the 19th century. Land within the city limits varies from flat to gently sloping; most of the changes in elevation are so gradual that they go unnoticed, and appear to be flat from close distances. The mean elevation for Indianapolis is 717 feet (219 m). The highest point in Indianapolis lies at Crown Hill Cemetery atop Strawberry Hill (the tomb of famed Hoosier writer James Whitcomb Riley) with an elevation of 842 feet (257 m), and the lowest point in Indianapolis lies at the Marion County/Johnson County line, with an elevation of about 680 feet (207 m). The highest hill in Indianapolis is Mann Hill, a bluff located along the White River in Southwestway Park that rises about 150 feet (46 m) above the surrounding land. Variations in elevation from 700-900 feet occur throughout the city limits. There are a few moderately-sized bluffs and valleys in the city, particularly along the shores of the White River, Fall Creek, Geist Reservoir, and Eagle Creek Reservoir, and especially on the city's Northeast and Northwest sides.

Indianapolis has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa). Like most cities in the Midwest, it has four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with average high temperatures approaching 90 °F (32 °C), with days approaching or exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) not unheard of. Spring and autumn are usually pleasant, with temperatures reaching around 65 °F (18 °C). Spring, however, is much less predictable than autumn; midday temperature drops exceeding 30 °F (17 °C) are common during March and April, and instances of very warm days (86 °F; 30 °C) followed within 36 hours by snowfall are not unheard of during these months. Winters are cool to cold, with daily highs barely inching above freezing. Temperatures occasionally fall below 0 °F (-18 °C). The rainiest months are in the spring and summer, with average rainfalls of over four inches per month, but these averages fluctuate only slightly throughout the year.

The city's average annual precipitation is 41 inches (1,040 mm).

The average July high is 85.6 °F (29.8 °C), with the low being 65.2 °F (18.4 °C). January highs average 34.5 °F (1.4 °C), and lows 18.5 °F (-7.5 °C). The record high for Indianapolis is 107 °F (42 °C), on July 25th, 1954. The record low is -27 °F (-33 °C), on January 19th, 1994. Snowfall varies from about 20 to 30 inches (500–760 mm) a year.

Average climate in Indianapolis, Indiana

Month[5] Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °F (°C) 35 (2) 40 (5) 51 (11) 63 (17) 74 (23) 82 (28) 86 (30) 84 (29) 77 (25) 66 (19) 52 (11) 39 (5) 62 (17)
Avg low °F (°C) 19 (−7) 23 (−5) 32 (0) 41 (5) 52 (11) 61 (16) 65 (18) 63 (17) 55 (13) 44 (7) 34 (2) 24 (−4) 43 (7)


Indianapolis looking north
Indianapolis looking north

High rise construction in Indianapolis started in 1888 when the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was completed. The 284-foot (87 m) tall monument sits at the center of Indianapolis and until 1962 it was still the tallest structure in the city.

In the 1970's the city center, like many other 'Rust Belt' cities of the United States, saw decreased economic activity, racial tension, and white flight to gentrified suburbs. As a result, Downtown Indianapolis saw little new construction. The city of Indianapolis dealt with these issues by developing plans, in the 1980's, to redefine the city's downtown. Downtown Indianapolis began to develop into the state that it is today. Neighborhoods in the downtown area were designated in relation to their proximity to the city center, and plans were initiated for them to be redeveloped. A series of modern skyscrapers were constructed, including what is currently the tallest building in downtown, the newly renamed Chase Tower. The third tallest building, One Indiana Square, is going through an exterior make over after being damaged by high winds in April 2006.


The 2006 Census estimate for Indianapolis, Balance (an unofficial area which is only a portion of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis) is 785,597. (The population of the full Consolidated City of Indianapolis contains approximately another 9,974 people--derived by adding the 2006 Census estimates for areas left out of Indianapolis, Balance and using 2000 Census data for portion of Cumberland, Indiana included in Consolidated City of Indianapolis).

Greater Indianapolis is a rapidly growing region located at the center of Indiana and consists of Marion County, Indiana and several adjacent counties. The Combined Statistical Area (CSA) of Indianapolis will likely exceed 2 million people in the 2007 estimate, ranking 23rd in the United States and 7th in the midwest. As a unified labor and media market, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a 2006 population of 1.66 million people, ranking 33rd in the United States. Indianapolis is the 7th largest MSA in the Midwest.

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 791,926 people, 320,107 households, and 192,704 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,163.0 people per square mile (835.1/km²). There were 352,429 housing units at an average density of 975.0 per square mile (376.4/km²). The racial makeup of the balance was 69.1% white, 25.50% black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.04% from other races, and 1.64% from two or more races. 3.92% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 5 largest ancestries include: German (16.6%), Irish (10.2%), American (9.3%), English(7.7%), and Italian (2.2%)[8].

From 2000 to 2004, the Hispanic population in Indianapolis increased by 43%.[9]The majority of the non-white population lives in the central and north portions of the inner-city area. Indianapolis has over 6000 immigrants from the former Yugoslavia[citation needed].

The median income for a household in the balance is $41,964, and the median income for a family is $48,755. Males have a median income of $36,302 versus $27,738 for females. The per capita income is $21,640.[10] 14.8% of the population lives below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 16.2% of those under the age of 18 and 8.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

There are 320,107 households out of which 29.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% are married couples living together, 15.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% are non-families. 32.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.39 and the average family size is 3.04.

The age distribution is: 25.7% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.2 males.

Cultural features

The Central Canal in Indianapolis
The Central Canal in Indianapolis

Indianapolis prides itself on its rich cultural heritage. Several initiatives have been made by the Indianapolis government in recent years to increase Indianapolis's appeal as a destination for arts and culture.

Cultural Districts

Indianapolis has designated six official Cultural Districts. They are Broad Ripple Village, Massachusetts Avenue, Fountain Square, The Wholesale District, Canal and White River State Park, and Indiana Avenue. These areas have held historic and cultural importance to the city. In recent years they have been revitalized and are becoming major centers for tourism, commerce and residential living.

Monument Circle

At the center of Indianapolis is Monument Circle, a traffic circle at the intersection of Meridian and Market Streets, featuring the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. (Monument Circle is depicted on the city’s flag, and is generally considered the city’s symbol). Monument Circle is in the shadow of Indiana's tallest skyscraper, the Chase Tower. Up until the early 1960s, Indianapolis zoning laws stated that no building could be taller than the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Each Christmas season, local electricians string lights onto the monument. It is lit for the holiday season in a ceremony that attracts tens of thousands of Hoosiers to downtown Indianapolis on the day after Thanksgiving. The "Circle of Lights" festival celebrates the lighting of the city-proclaimed "World's Largest Christmas Tree" which, in reality, is just the monument decked out in lights.

The War Memorial
The War Memorial

War Memorial Plaza

A five-block plaza at the intersection of Meridian and Vermont surrounds a large memorial dedicated to Hoosiers who have fought in American wars. It was originally constructed to honor the Indiana soldiers who died in World War I, but construction was halted due to lack of funding during the Great Depression, and it was finished in 1951. The purpose of the memorial was altered to encompass all American wars in which Hoosiers fought.

The monument is modeled after the Mausoleum of Maussollos. At 210 feet (64 m) tall it is approximately seventy-five feet taller than the original Mausoleum which was demolished to build a fort during the Crusades. The blue lights, which shine between columns on the side of the War Memorial, make the monument easy to spot. On the north end of the War Memorial Plaza is the national headquarters of the American Legion and the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library's Central Library.

Festivals, conventions, and organizations

Beginning in 1999 the city became host to the annual Indy Jazz Festival. The festival is a three day event held in Military Park near the canal. Past stars include: B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Hornsby, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Kool and the Gang, Ray Charles, The Temptations, Dave Brubeck, Emmylou Harris, Chris Isaak, Jonny Lang, Norah Jones and regional and local favorites.

Every May Indianapolis holds the 500 Festival, a month of events culminating in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade the day before the running of the Indianapolis 500. The Festival was begun in 1957 and the first Queen of the Festival was Ann Lawrie who was named in 1959.

The Circle City Classic is one of America’s top historically African-American college football games. This annual football game, held during the first weekend of October, is the showcase event of an entire weekend. The weekend is a celebration of cultural excellence and educational achievement while showcasing the spirit, energy and tradition of America’s historically black colleges and universities.

In 2003, Indianapolis began hosting Gen Con, the largest role-playing game convention in the nation (record attendance thus far being numbered in excess of 30,000), at the Indiana Convention Center. Future expansion of the convention space is expected by many to further increase attendance numbers in coming years. The convention center has also recently played host to such events as Star Wars Celebration II and III, which brought in Star Wars fans from around the world, including George Lucas. From October 25 to 28, 2006, the convention center was home to the 79th national Future Farmers of America convention, bringing around 50,000 visitors in from around the country. It will also host it every year up to 2012.[18]

Indianapolis is also home to the Indiana State Fair, as well as the Heartland Film Festival, The Indianapolis International Film Festival, the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, the Indianapolis Alternative Media Festival, the Midwest Music Summit and the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival.

Indianapolis is home to Bands of America (BOA), a nationwide organization of high school marching, concert, and jazz bands, and hosts several BOA events annually. Indianapolis is now also the international headquarters of Drum Corps International, a professional drum and bugle corps association, and beginning in 2008 will host the DCI World Championships in the new Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indianapolis has been the headquarters of the Kiwanis International organization since 1982. The organization and its youth-sponsored Kiwanis Family counterparts, Circle K International and Key Club International, administer all their international business and service initiatives from Indianapolis.

The Indy International Wine Competition which is the largest U.S. wine competition outside of California is held in Indianapolis every July at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The city has a vibrant arts community that includes many fairs celebrating a wide variety of arts and crafts during the summer months. They include the Broad Ripple Art Fair,Talbot Street Art Fair, Carmel Arts Festival and the Penrod Art Fair

Indianapolis contains the national headquarters for at least 26 fraternities and sororities. Many are congregated in the College Park area surrounding The Pyramids.

Indianapolis is the headquarters for all three international Jewish fraternities, Zeta Beta Tau, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Sigma Alpha Mu.,,


Indianapolis is home to the Super Bowl XLI Champion Indianapolis Colts of the NFL, the Indiana Pacers of the NBA, the Indiana Fever of the WNBA, the Indianapolis Indians of the IL, and the Indiana Ice of the USHL.

In addition, the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the main governing body for U.S. collegiate sports, is in Indianapolis, as is the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The city has hosted the Men's and Women's NCAA Final Fours (the semifinals and final of the NCAA basketball tournament) several times, and as of 2006 the NCAA is holding the Women's Final Four in Indianapolis at least once every five years. Also, Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, will host the Big Ten Tournament for 5 straight years starting in 2008 after it won the Big Ten bid over Chicago and the United Center

Indianapolis also hosts the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, one of the many tournaments which are part of the US Open series.

Indianapolis is well known for its ability to host large events. IMS hosts 2 major races every year, the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Starting in 2008, the MotoGP Motorcycle series will host a weekend at the speedway for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. As previously mentioned Indy plays hosts to many Men's and Women's Final Fours and will continue with the opening of Lucas Oil Stadium. Lucas Oil Stadium and the city of Indianapolis also made a bid to host Super Bowl XLV in 2011 but lost to Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys New Stadium by only 2 NFL Owner votes. However, the city has announced they will bid again in trying to host Super Bowl XLVI.[19] Indianapolis also hosted the Pan American Games in 1987.

The Indianapolis Daredevils were a professional soccer team based in the city from 1978-79 and played in the ASL, the second tier of American soccer.

Indianapolis Colts

Lucas Oil Stadium under construction
Lucas Oil Stadium under construction

The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984. During the early years the Colts struggled to win many games. After a playoff berth in 1987, the Colts drifted back to mediocrity and worse until the mid '90s. In 1995 the Colts made their 1st step towards success when they made AFC Championship Game but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a last second play. Then in 1998 GM Bill Polian drafted Peyton Manning out of Tennessee turning the Colts around. Since drafting Manning the Colts have made the playoffs in 7 of 9 years and recently won Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears, 29-17. Lucas Oil Stadium will open before the 2008 season, replacing the RCA Dome, as the new home of the Colts.

Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Pacers & Fever
Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Pacers & Fever

Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers began play in the ABA in 1967 and winning 3 ABA Championships. Then in 1976 the Pacers received an invitation to join the NBA. In 1987 they drafted Reggie Miller out of UCLA and became an instant playoff perennial. In 1999 they opened their new arena, Conseco Fieldhouse, and demolished Market Square Arena where Elvis Presley performed his last concert on June 26, 1977. The Pacers also reached their first and only NBA Finals in 2000 but lost to the Lakers in 6 games. After the 2004-2005 season Reggie Miller retired and the team has struggled with their production on the court. After the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl they have struggled with their off the court image with numerous incidents.

Indiana Fever

The WNBA expanded to 4 new cities in 2000 including Indianapolis. The Indiana Fever was one of the 2000 expansion teams. The WNBA awarded Indianapolis a team with the opening of Conseco Fieldhouse. The Fever won their 1st game in Miami, against the Miami Sol, on national TV but finished the 2000 season in last place thus receiving a high draft pick. In the 2001 WNBA Draft the Fever drafted Tennessee superstar Tamika Catchings with the 3rd pick, although she was forced to sit out the 2001 season with a knee injury. Catchings won the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year and each season has led the Fever in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), located in Speedway, Indiana, is the site of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (also known as the Indy 500), an open-wheel automobile race held each Memorial Day weekend on a 2.5 mile (4 km) oval track. The Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world, hosting more than 257,000 permanent seats (not including the infield area).

The track is often referred to as the Brickyard, as it was paved with 3.2 million bricks shortly after its initial construction in 1909. Today the track is paved in asphalt although a section of bricks remains at the start/finish line.

The first 500-Mile Race (805 km), held in 1911, was won by driver Ray Harroun driving a Marmon Wasp. (Marmon, incidentally, was an Indianapolis manufacturer.) The "500" is currently part of the Indy Racing League series, with the 2007 running seeing Scotsman Dario Franchitti triumph for Andretti-Green Racing.

IMS also hosts the NASCAR Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (originally the "Brickyard 400"). The first running of the Brickyard 400 was in 1994, and is currently NASCAR's highest attended event. Driver Jeff Gordon was the first to cross the finish line in the 1994 Brickyard 400. Gordon has since added three more 400 wins, totaling four, tying Rick Mears, A. J. Foyt and Al Unser for number of track victories. Tony Stewart is the most recent winner of the 400 in 2007.

In 1998 IMS began expanding the original track, to include a Formula One road course, utilizing the traditional brick start-finish line and adding a new infield road course inside the surrounding oval.

From 2000 to 2007, IMS hosted the Formula One United States Grand Prix (USGP). Driver Michael Schumacher took the first finish. The last US Grand Prix run at IMS, in 2007, was notable for firsts. Lewis Hamilton took the checkered flag, and in doing so became the first rookie to win a Grand Prix at Indianapolis, as well as the first black driver to win any Speedway race. During the summer of 2007, contract negotiations between the IMS and Formula One resulted in a discontinuation of the USGP at Indianapolis (at least for the foreseeable future). Formula One has currently not scheduled a USGP venue for the 2008 season.

The Speedway is scheduled to host its first MotoGP. The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix will take place in September of 2008.

OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Indianapolis is home to the largest mini-marathon (and eighth largest running event) in America. This year (2007) is the 30th anniversary of the Mini and it is run the 1st weekend in May every year and includes one lap around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This event is part of the 500 Festival, now its 50th year running. The race starts on Washington Street just off Monument Circle and ends on New York Street back downtown. The Mini has been sold out every year, with well over 35,000 participating. The 2006 Men's winner was Kenyan Ben Kimondiu, the 11th straight year a Kenyan has won the race. On the women's side, an American won for the first time in 13 years. She was Hoosier Native Lucie Mays-Sulewski. 2007 Race results: Joseph Chirlee (Men's Winner), marking the 12 straight year a Kenyan has won the Men's division of the Mini, & Janet Kogo Cherobon (Women's Winner).



Indianapolis has an extensive municipal park system with nearly 200 parks occupying over 10,000 acres (40 km²). The flagship Eagle Creek Park is the largest municipal park in the city, and ranks among the largest urban parks in the United States. [20]

Other major Indianapolis Regional parks include:

  • Garfield Park (established in 1881, according to the Indygov website, the oldest Park in Indianapolis. Located on the Near South Side)
  • Riverside Park (Near West Side)
  • Sahm Park (Northeast side)
  • Southeastway Park (Franklin Township, Marion County)
  • Southwestway Park (Decatur Township, Marion County)

Additionally, Indianapolis has an urban forestry program that has garnered several Tree City USA awards from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Indianapolis Zoo

Opened in 1988 the Indianapolis Zoo is the largest zoo in the state and is just west of Downtown. It has 360 species of animals and is best known for its Dolphin exhibit which includes the only underwater viewing dome in the Midwest.


Other places of interest

People mover

The Clarian people mover connects the Indiana University School of Medicine, Riley Hospital for Children, Wishard Hospital and IUPUI & Indiana University School of Medicine facilities at the north end of the Downtown Canal with Methodist Hospital. The Clarian People Mover is available for public use. Plans for a more expansive system are being considered that would operate throughout downtown Indianapolis. The existing people mover is sometimes inaccurately described as a monorail, but in fact rides on dual concrete beams with the guideway being as wide as the vehicle.

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