The Fascinating and Rich History of Indianapolis

Discover the captivating history of Indianapolis - from its founding in 1821 to its consolidation into Unigov in 1970. Learn about its first inhabitants and its African-American community.

The Fascinating and Rich History of Indianapolis

Indianapolis is a city with a captivating and abundant history. Founded in 1821, it was officially declared the state capital of Indiana in 1825. The city's growth was propelled by the Cumberland (National) Road, which crossed the city in 1827, and the arrival of railroads. Indigenous peoples had been living in the area since 10,000 BC, and in 1818 the Lenape renounced their tribal lands under the Treaty of St. Alexander Ralston and Elias Pym Fordham designed the city on a 2.6 km (1 square mile) grid along the White River.

The construction of national and Michigan highways, as well as the railroad, further solidified Indianapolis' position as a major transportation and manufacturing center. This is reflected in two of its nicknames: Crossroads of America and Railroad City. In 1970, Indianapolis and Marion County were consolidated into Unigov, with an elected 25-member city-county council headed by the mayor. In his book The History of Indianapolis, published in 1916, historian Jacob Piatt Dunn provided an extensive overview of the city's past. He devoted an entire chapter to reviewing evidence about the first inhabitants of the area, as well as topics that had not been previously examined, such as ethnicity and suburban development.

Dunn was also the first historian to recognize that Indianapolis had an African-American community. In 1876, the nation's centennial celebration triggered an avalanche of historical writing that reached its peak in the 1880s. One such work was The History of Indianapolis, written by William H. Holloway in 1887. In his preface, Holloway referred to the progress of Indianapolis from “a town full of trees to a city full of business bustle”.Today, Indianapolis is a lively city with a rich history that continues to be explored and documented. Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images or recommend new entries related to this topic to help fund new content and features.

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