Why is Indianapolis the Capital of Indiana?

Why is Indianapolis the Capital of Indiana?
Why is Indianapolis the Capital of Indiana?

Indianapolis, the capital city of Indiana, is a great place to visit for the whole family, and the capital is filled with wonderful places to go whether you’re vacationing or just traveling through.

Where Is the Capital of Indiana Located?

Where Is the Capital of Indiana Located
Where Is the Capital of Indiana Located

Indianapolis, the city with the highest population in Indiana, is located just north of central Indiana. It spans over 368 miles  and, by land area in the US, is the 18th largest city. It’s bordered to the north by Michigan, Illinois to the west, Ohio to the east, and Kentucky to the south.

Brief History of Indianapolis

Indianapolis is a place rich in historical significance and has been inhabited by indigenous peoples as far back as 10,000 BC. In 1818, native Lenape people surrendered their properties under an agreement titled the  Treaty of St. Mary’s, after which Indianapolis the dedicated seat of Indiana’s state government.

Under the leadership of two contractors, the city was divided into subdivisions in a grid spanning one mile by the White River.

The city would start to boom as a transportation and manufacturing hub after the construction of two major roads, the Michigan and the National, in addition to a railroad which brought goods in and out of the city.

In fact, Indianapolis has so long been associated with commerce that its two nicknames, “Crossroads of America” and “Railroad City” reflect its historical origins.

As it stands now, Indianapolis is among the largest regions of economy in the US, reflected on the successes of various professional services, manufacturing, and leisure activities.

Notably, it’s famed for its auto racing, including the Indianapolis 500, and has a massive following in various amateur sports.

When Did Indianapolis Become the Capital of Indiana?

Central Canal Indianapolis
Central Canal Indianapolis

The history of Indianapolis is tied into the fates of the indigenous peoples. In 1816, when Indiana established statehood, Congress donated several sections of land for Indiana to partition into a seat of state government. The only issue was that the natives were already residing in the area.

The Treaty of St. Mary’s

The Treaty of St. Mary’s in 1818 is, perhaps, the most significant document in the history of Indianapolis.

The treaty was not just one, but six treaties established between the US and the native people of central Indiana. The treaty established that the state would pay for the land, and, in return, the natives would vacate the land within three years.

The treaties included in the Treaty of St. Mary’s were made with the following indigenous people:

  • The Wyandot
  • The Wea
  • The Delaware
  • The Miami
  • The Potawatomi

The main tribe in Indiana at the time were the Miami, who gave up a substantial portion of their land in exchange for various goods, including cash, sawmills, salt, and other valuables.

The treaty also resulted in the movement of the northern boundary of Indiana up to the Wabash River and the creation of Indian reservations. The process of removing the natives was also continued under the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.

After the treaty was signed and carried out, the Miami people were confined to the reserve as agreed in the treaty.

The Growth of a City

After the indigenous people agreed to leave the area before 1821, a new tract of land was dubbed the New Purchase and included the site which would eventually become the city of Indianapolis.

Naturally, with federal land open to buy, settlers flocked to the area, mostly of European descent. In January of 1820, the General Assembly of Indiana designated a committee to select land in central Indiana that would become the state capital.

Once approved, Indianapolis was established and became the seat of government in Indiana after Marion County was established on December 31, 1821.

Why is Indianapolis the Capital of Indiana?

Downtown of Indianapolis by Indiana Central Canal
Downtown of Indianapolis by Indiana Central Canal

Indianapolis is the capital of Indiana for several reasons. First, the Indiana General Assembly wanted a plot of land that was centralized in Indiana to oversee the rest of the state and to facilitate commerce throughout.

In addition, the topography of the land made it ideal for a center of commerce, and following the construction of two successful major roads and a railway, Indianapolis proved its merit as a center of trade.

Best Places to Visit in Indianapolis

There are lots of great places to visit that reflect the culture and history of the city, many of which are great for the whole family.

Indianapolis 500

Held annually before Memorial Day, this is the world’s most recognizable sporting event, drawing a myriad of racing fans to the side of the track to celebrate the history and evolution of motor sport racing.

The circuit was originally built as a test track, but became so successful that it evolved into the single-day racing event we know and love today.

The Central Canal

The Central Canal is a beautiful link between Indianapolis’ storied past and bright future. Once used to transport goods in and out of the city, it’s now a great place to spend a day out on the water. Paddleboat, kayak, canoe—you choose your adventure on the waterways. You can also walk the three-mile Canal Walk on both banks of the water.

The walkway is populated with lots of little shops and tourist attractions to fill your time.

White River State Park

A beautiful reflection of Indiana’s natural beauty, White River State Park is a beautiful place to explore expansive greenery and see numerous attractions, such as the Indiana State Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial.

Final Thoughts

Indianapolis is a beautiful city filled with vibrant sights and sounds, and the city has grown over the years.

Once a plot of land in the newly fledged state of Indiana, it has since become a center of trade and commerce well-recognized among the states and is a wonderful encapsulation of everything that makes Indiana great.

If you haven’t visited yet, then it’s time to hit the open road and see what wonders Indianapolis has to offer for you!

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!