The state of Indiana, located in the Midwestern United States, is the 38th largest by area and the 17th most populated of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis, located in the central part of Indiana. It is the twelfth largest city in the United States and is a planned municipality, its design resembling that of Washington, D. C.
The climate is typical of the center-east of the Midwest, with warm to hot summers and cold winters; rainfall is moderate and distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. Beginning in the 1880s, meat packaging and metallurgy emerged as important industries in Indianapolis. The latter led to the development of automotive manufacturing as a central element of the city's economy. The population of Indianapolis surpassed 100,000 in 1890 and continued to grow rapidly in the 20th century.
The city was also a center of labor organization in the late 19th century, and several influential unions, including the Carpenters and Carpenters Union, the International Typographic Union, and the United States Mining Workers Union, established their headquarters there. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 in the suburbs of Speedway as a test track for local automotive plants. The first 500 mile (800 km) car race, held there in 1911, was won by a locally manufactured Marmon race car. Although automotive manufacturing eventually left the city, the Indianapolis 500 (held annually in late May the weekend before Memorial Day) has become one of the world's leading car races and attracts a huge audience. Indianapolis is one of the most populated cities in the world, it is not found in navigable waters, although it is a hub for road, rail and air transportation. These facilities and the city's position in the middle of the Corn Belt, close to large coal deposits and consumer markets, have combined to turn it into an important commercial, financial and industrial center.
Pharmaceutical and chemical products, machinery, plastics, wood and paper products, and electrical and transportation equipment (including televisions and audio equipment) are major products. It is also a regional center for distribution, retail and health care, and tourism has grown in importance. Beginning in the 1970s, Indianapolis worked to become an international amateur sports center, an effort that produced significant economic growth. In addition to the NCAA, the city attracted organizations such as the National Institute of Fitness and Sport, a research center in sports physiology. Other facilities for fans include the Indianapolis Tennis Center (197) and the Major Taylor Velodrome (198), a bicycle racetrack.
Lucas Oil Stadium (200) is home to the Colts professional American football team, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse (1999; formerly Conseco Fieldhouse) is home to the Pacers (men's) and Fever (women's) professional basketball teams. The Indiana State Fairgrounds, with more than 55 permanent buildings, including the Art Deco Pepsi Coliseum (193), is a hub for business and social activities. The annual state fair (August) draws big crowds, as does the Indiana Black Expo summer celebration (July) and the Indy Jazz Fest (June). President Benjamin Harrison (187) and poet James Whitcomb Riley (187) have been preserved as museums. Other prominent residents of the city include Charles Warren Fairbanks (vice-president of Theodore Roosevelt), authors Booth Tarkington and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Indiana is committed to increasing its use of renewable resources such as wind, hydroelectricity, biomass or solar energy; however progress has been slow due to its abundance of coal reserves located mainly in southern Indiana.
Two museums and several city memorials commemorate armed forces or conflict veterans such as Colonel Eli Lilly's Civil War Museum or Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum. The largest educational institution is Indiana University whose flagship campus was approved as an Indiana seminary in 1820. The governor of Indiana serves as executive director of state government according to Indiana Constitution. Indiana University (Purdue University), Indianapolis (196) includes Herron School of Art (190) as well as an internationally renowned medical center.
The other three independent state universities are Vincennes University (founded in 1801 by Indiana Territory), Ball State University (19) and Southern Indiana University (1965 as ISU Evansville). Indiana was first Western state to mobilize for United States during war; Indiana soldiers participated in every major confrontation during war. In northwestern Indiana there are several ridges and sand dunes some reaching nearly 200 feet high; most are located within Indiana Dunes National Park. Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) is quasi-governmental agency organizing regional car/van pools operating three connections from Indianapolis to employment centers located in Plainfield/Whitestown.