Indianapolis is probably best known for hosting the largest, annual, single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500. But that's not all this city has to offer. We'll wow you with some of the lesser-known Indianapolis facts.
Only real locals know the ins and outs of their city. But if you want to learn about Indianapolis' facts, you're in luck! We're about to show you some enthralling facts about this city. These facts are interesting and unusual — some are even mind-boggling. In the end, we're sure these facts will make you fall in love with the city and perhaps even decide to find an apartment to rent in Indianapolis.
32 interesting Indianapolis facts only the locals know about
1. You must be a sports fan to live in Indianapolis. Alright, it's not really a requirement but it definitely helps. Sports is a big deal in this city as it's home to 11 professional sports teams, three national collegiate teams and multiple minor league teams. Of course, it's also home to the Indianapolis 500. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations have their headquarters in the city, too. Suffice it to say, if you live in Indianapolis, you're going to hear a lot about sports a lot of the time.
2. Indianapolis isn't just a hot foodie destination, it's one of the top farm-to-table foodie destinations in the country. It is, after all, in farm country. However, what's cool about Indianapolis is that urban farming has taken off in recent years. Locals don't just rely on food from farms on the outskirts of the city — they can get it directly in town. There are over 134 urban and community farms in the city.
3. If you're a fan of history and/or the macabre, you might find it interesting to know that Indianapolis is home to the third-largest cemetery in the U.S. The Crown Hill Cemetery encompasses 555 acres and is the final resting place of some well-known historic figures like John Dillinger and James Whitcomb Riley.
4. Another place to visit for those who love macabre history is the Indiana Medical History Museum. This sounds like it's simply an educational destination, but it's much more than that. The site was the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane. On display are old and quite intimidating medical instruments (why do old instruments always look like medieval torture devices?), as well as an anatomical museum (yes, body parts are on display) and a 19th-century autopsy room. Paints quite the mental picture, doesn't it?
5. Contrary to popular belief, Indianapolis doesn't get blanketed with snow each winter. Instead, it averages less than the national average and typically occurs in an occasional dusting of snow, rather than a blizzard or downfall type scenario. It does get pretty cold, though, averaging in the 20s to 30s (Fahrenheit), though it can occasionally dip into the single digits. So, be sure to invest in some warm clothes (long johns, anyone?) for those brisk winter months.
6. Indianapolis is the home of Wonder Bread. The Taggart Baking Company created the white, fluffy bread in 1921 and was the first major company to sell sliced bread. Which in turn, gave us something we all know and love — the sandwich.
7. Want in on one of the top Indianapolis secrets? For such a big city, Indianapolis has one of the most affordable cost of living rates in the country. Overall, the cost of living is about 8 percent lower than the U.S. average. And housing costs are nearly 20 percent lower — ideal for anyone looking for apartments to rent in Indianapolis. That's not to say there aren't neighborhoods in the city with higher-than-average rental rates. Every city has to have those, right? But for the most part, the cost of living in Indianapolis is quite affordable.
8. Another common misconception about this part of the country is that it's all cornfields. Indiana actually has an abundance of trees (you totally need to see them in the fall – gorgeous!), hills and stunning parks. Locals love visiting Holliday Park and hiking its beautiful trails, particularly around the White River. Residents of the city say it's one of the top three parks in the city
9. One of the interesting facts about Indianapolis is that it's one of the most hospitable cities in the Midwest, if not the country. Locals are so hospitable and provide such great service, in fact, that “Hoosier Hospitality" is an actual thing.
10. If you want a taste of what it's like to ride around the Indianapolis 500 raceway, you can pay admission to the Indy 500 museum for the Kiss the Bricks tour. You'll ride a bus once around the track and kiss the bricks at the starting line.
11. Indianapolis was home to Oscar Charleston, a man who had a 43-year career in baseball. His induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame took place in 1976.
12. Indianapolis has multiple slogans and nicknames, including Indy, Crossroads of America, Circle City, Naptown, The Hoosier Capital/City, The Capital City, City of Churches, Home of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and The Railroad City.
13. Speedway, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis (approximately 12 minutes away), is home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From Sept. 1 through Sept. 6, 1978, there was a series of eight random bombings known as The Speedway Bombings. The bomber put bombs in trash cans and dumpsters, as well as an abandoned gym bag. No one died from the bombings, but a police cruiser exploded, a man was severely injured and the bomber shot a woman at her home before his arrest.
14. The Indiana State Museum is home to one of the most important Abraham Lincoln collections in the country. The collection includes copies of the 13th Amendment signed by Lincoln, as well as copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and personal belongings of the Lincoln family.
15. One of Indianapolis' best-kept secrets (to outsiders only, of course) is that the Indiana State Museum holds an IMAX theater. This is truly one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a film.
16. Indianapolis is host to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon — one of the largest half-marathons in the country and also named one of the best and most iconic races in the world. The race starts with an IndyCar driver leading each wave of the race in a pace car and includes a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
17. According to locals, some of the best places to get away from the hustle of city life include Monon Trail, Canal Riverwalk and Ft. Harrison State Park.
18. Indianapolis is the birthplace of several famous people in entertainment and politics, including:
- Kenneth “Babyface" Edmonds (singer, songwriter, producer)
- Benjamin Harrison (23rd President of the United States)
- David Letterman (comedian, talk show host)
- Colonel Eli Lilly (soldier, industrialist, founder of Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals)
- Wes Montgomery (one of the greatest modern jazz guitarists)
- Jane Pauley ("Today Show" and "Dateline NBC" correspondent)
- Dan Quayle (politician, 44th vice president of the United States)
- Oscar Robertson (basketball player, Mr. Basketball)
- Major Taylor (track cyclist, world champion, bicycling Hall of Famer)
- Kurt Vonnegut (author)
- Madam C.J. Walker (first self-made female millionaire)
19. This city is also the final resting place of several famous people including Ray Brown, a Grammy-winning bass player.
20. Art and culture are important to Hoosiers, so they've made them accessible to nearly anyone. For instance, the Newfield's Museum of Art has free admission one day a week. The Indianapolis Symphony has a Summer Lunch Series — tickets are only $5.
21. Massachusetts Avenue is one of the unique hotspots in the city. It's great for a night out on the town, as well as some daytime shopping. You'll find public art that many describe as visionary and live theater that will leave you feeling inspired.
22. It's an Indianapolis fact that if you want great music and amazing food, you need to go to The Rathskeller. This is a premier fine dining experience where you'll get to enjoy delicious German cuisine while listening to some of the hottest local bands.
23. Most people know that Indianapolis is the state capital of Indiana. (If you don't, ask a 5th grader.) But did you know that Indianapolis wasn't the original state capital? Corydon was the state's first capital. In 1820, the state authorized a committee to select a new city to become the state capital. After finding a location, the legislature passed a year later to name the new site Indianapolis.
24. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a great place to take your kids — especially on a hot, summer afternoon. And while the attractions and exhibits within the museum are awesome, what's equally interesting is the fact that this is the largest children's museum in the entire world.
25. You definitely need to spend an evening at the Slippery Noodle Inn. Not only will you get to hear some of the best live blues in the city, but you'll love the history of the place. First, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Second, John Dillinger once shot the place up. And finally, it's the oldest continuously operating bar in Indiana.
26. This city has the most interstate legs in the country. Four interstate highways and two auxiliary interstates — I-65, I-69, I-70, I-465 and I-865 — intersect in the midst of the city.
27. A Hoosier penned "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The song is incredibly well-known but not everyone knows or remembers who wrote it.
28. Tony Hinkle is a legend in this city. He was a football, baseball and basketball player, coach and eventually administrator. He also invented modern-day basketball. Hinkle is so popular that the basketball court on the Butler University campus — Hinkle Fieldhouse — was named in his honor. The court is famous for the 1954 state championship game that inspired the film "Hoosiers," as well as for the fact that famous names like Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson played on Hinkle's court.
29. Elvis Presley performed his last concert in Indianapolis. He died three months later.
30. Duckpin bowling is a sport that was popular in the city (really, what sport isn't popular in Indianapolis?) in the early 20th century. It's since gone the way of the dodo in most areas but there are still a few of these bowling alleys in Indianapolis, including Atomic Bowl Duckpin and Action Duckpin Bowl.
31. While the Indy500 is the most iconic motor race in the world, Indianapolis also offers another kind of racing at the Indianapolis Speedrome. It's basically junk cars racing around a 1/5-mile oval track that's approximately the size of a restaurant parking lot. Sometimes, they even race old school buses.
32. The gondolas in the downtown canal are authentic. They're Italian-made and weigh one ton each.
Are you intrigued by our Indianapolis facts?
Learning about a new city is always fun. And even if you're a resident of Indianapolis, there's always something new to learn. That's one of the great things about living in a large city. There are always fun people to meet. Seeing a city from their perspective or from their personal/familial experiences can give the city new life and make you fall in love with it all over again.