Indianapolis began life in 1821, when a tract of barely inhabited marshes was designated the state capital. While its location in the middle of Indiana's rich farmland bore immense commercial advantages, the absence of a navigable river prohibited the transportation of bulky materials such as coal and iron to sustain heavy industry. Though home to more than sixty car manufacturers by 1910, the city never seriously threatened Detroit's supremacy. Nevertheless, it's now one of the biggest cities in the world that's not accessible by water, having attracted food, paper, and pharmaceutical industries, including the giant Eli Lilly Corporation.
Although Indianapolis continues its focus on sports – in recent years, it has constructed several world-class sports arenas, including the retro-styled Conseco Fieldhouse downtown – there is more to the city than could perhaps once be said. Along with new hotels, a gaggle of top-class museums, and a zoo, its old downtown landmarks have become cultural, shopping, and dining complexes. No longer is it (quite) true that nothing happens here except for the glamorous Indianapolis 500 car race each May.