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The Circle City: An Indianapolis Tradition

The buzzing metropolis known as Indianapolis is sometimes affectionately referred to as the “Circle City,” but few who use the term know its centuries-old origin. You don’t have to wonder any longer: the name comes from the original design of the city. In 1821, surveyor Alex Ralston carved his place in history by drawing up the plans for the now booming state capital.

Aeriel view of Monument CircleAeriel view of Monument Circle

Ralston was influenced heavily by the design of another famous city: Washington DC, the nation’s capital. He placed his circle design squarely in the middle of a mile-wide space, with the intention of putting the governor’s mansion there. In 1902, the term “Circle City” was officially christened when the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was placed in the spot intended for the mansion. Thus, the Circle City was born, as was Monument Circle.

Soldiers' and Sailor's Monument during the annual Circle of LightsSoldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument during the annual Circle of Lights

The city is no stranger to nicknames; it’s more commonly referred to as “Indy” than its given moniker. “Racing capital of the world” is another popular one among Indianapolis residents, which refers to the enormous popularity of the biggest event in Indianapolis sports, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. But there’s a certain appeal to the term “Circle City.” It gives off a glossy, sophisticated vibe, which indeed does describe the heart of downtown Indianapolis, Monument Circle.

Fans at the Indianapolis 500 Mile RaceFans at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

As far as terms of endearment go, Indianapolis also heartily appreciates its title of “the Crossroads of America.” The name is appropriate, given that more interstate highways bisect our fair city and state than any others in the United States. In addition, half of the country’s population lives within a short day-long drive of the city.

If you want to check out downtown Indianapolis now with your new perspective, make sure to visit the many Indianapolis attractions that grace the circle. Besides the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, you can pay tribute to fallen Hoosiers at the Indiana War Memorial Museum.

Indiana War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis DowntownIndiana War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis Downtown

Sculptures on the War Memorial DowntownSculptures on the War Memorial Downtown

If Indianapolis media interests you, stop in the home of Indianapolis Monthly, the most-read Indianapolis magazine. You can also pop in the RadioNow 100.9 studios, which are housed right next the the magazine’s headquarters. 100.9 is one of the kings of radio with Indianapolis music lovers. A day spent exploring the circle is guaranteed to be a pleasant one; it’s hard to run out of things to do in Indianapolis. Just gazing out at the Indianapolis skyline as the sun sets makes for a pleasant evening.

Emmis Communication Tower in Indianapolis DowntownEmmis Communication Tower in Indianapolis Downtown

Media outlets located on Monument CircleMedia outlets located on Monument Circle

Next time you find yourself bored at home, get out and explore all the offerings the great Circle City has to offer. You won’t be disappointed with what you find.

A view of the Indianapolis skylineA view of the Indianapolis skyline

Aerial view of the Indianapolis skylineAerial view of the Indianapolis skyline

Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis downtownCircle Centre Mall in Indianapolis downtown

Indiana War Memorials DowntownIndiana War Memorials Downtown

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail runs through the Circle CityThe Indianapolis Cultural Trail runs through the Circle City

The canal through Indianapolis downtownThe canal through Indianapolis downtown

The Indiana War Memorial PlazaThe Indiana War Memorial Plaza

A view of the Capitol from Monument CircleA view of the Capitol from Monument Circle

Skyline of Indianapolis downtownSkyline of Indianapolis downtown

View of Downtown from Mass AveView of Downtown from Mass Ave