A Brief History Behind Indianapolis

The Founding of Indianapolis

Indianapolis is the capital city of Indiana and was founded in 1820. It was originally named Indianapolis meaning land of Indians or Indian land. The history of Indianapolis dates back to 1680 when French explorers arrived at the site now known as Indy. The climate here is humid subtropical with four distinct seasons including hot summers and cold winters. The summer season is from mid-May to early October and the fall, winter, and spring seasons last from November through April.

Indianapolis was originally founded as a trading post by Alexander Ralston, who came up with the name Indianapolis for its convenience. The city’s first settlers were immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Italy. In 1847, Indianapolis was made the capital of Indiana and in 1852 became a major railroad hub. In 1970, it hosted the Pan American Games which brought attention to Indy as one of the fastest-growing cities in America at that time. Indianapolis is most well known for 6 things:

  • The Crossroads of America
  • Lots of delicious corn
  • Racing & the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • The well-known Butler University
  • One of the First Cities to Start Playing Basketball
  • The Indianapolis Colts

Becoming the Crossroads of America

The history of Indianapolis is quite interesting with lots going on from its initial settlement to becoming the 15th largest city in the US. Indy is known as the Crossroads of America because of our large interstate system. One of our most notable is I-70 which stretches from Pennsylvania all the way to Utah. Indiana is the 5th busiest state for freight trucks with a whopping 724 million tons being transported every year.

Farmland in Indiana

Other than transportation, Indiana is also known for its delicious corn. Corn counts for a majority of farmland in this very flat state, but there’s also plenty of Soy Bean farms as well. Soy Beans count for at least 1 third of farmland within Indiana. If you’re wondering how good the corn really is, I’ll put it in comparison for you. Corn from Indiana is like pizza from NY; it’s literally the absolute best corn in the country!

Indiana’s Famous Racecar Driving Scene

Another major piece of Indy is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Opening in 1909, IMS was originally a test track for local car manufacturers. It wasn’t until 1911 when the first 500-mile race was hosted at the track. Eventually, the automotive plants left Indianapolis to get further north to cities in Michigan like Detroit and Flint. The Indianapolis 500 is one of the world’s biggest car races and has been running for a total of 110 years now in the year 2021.

The Famous Butler University

Indiana is also home to the well-known Butler University. Butler was formed in 1855 by the Disciple Christ Church. The school started in Indianapolis but then moved to the small suburb town of Irvington. Eventually, in 1928, Butler moved back to the north side of Indianapolis. Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse and Arthur Jordan Memorial Hall are both registered as historic places by the National Register of Historic Places.

Basketball in Indiana

The last major fact about Indiana is basketball. Basketball was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts by a man named Dr. James Naismith in 1891. A young reverend from Indiana named Nicholas McCay was on a YMCA teaching trip in Springfield during 1891 and was watching Naismith teach basketball to the YMCA instructors. He fell in love with the sport and brought the game back to his hometown of Crawfordsville, Indiana. Just after a year, Hoosiers across Indiana were playing basketball and by 1911 Indiana’s high school basketball tournament was born. One very notable movie is actually called “Hoosiers” which recalls the history of Basketball in Indiana.


Indiana is a state that has been around since the 1800s, and Indianapolis has been going strong for over 200 years now. There’s truly so much history to this city as well as Indiana itself! If you were ever interested in learning more about Indiana or Indianapolis, I would highly recommend searching up some local Indianapolis historical museums/galleries, Pacer games, or check out the Motorspeedway to learn even more from those experts.

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