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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Whose Side are You on?

Evansville has directional sibling rivalries.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Evansville’s “sides of town” discussion is kind of like a sibling rivalry mostly focused on high school sports. But Evansville resident and history buff Kelley Coures says divisions between the West Side and East Side date to the 1800s, and it had a different tone then.

To this day, West Siders are a proud lot with distinct character. Coures says that reflects a time long ago when today’s West Side was not even a part of Evansville yet.

The town of Lamasco was incorporated in 1839. Evansville annexed Lamasco east of Pigeon Creek in 1857. The area west of Pigeon Creek became known as Independence, and it was swept into Evansville in 1870, over the opposition of some residents there.

Independence and Lamasco both had a heavy German immigrant population. Coures says neighborhoods on Evansville’s growing East Side, meanwhile, attracted mostly middle-to-upper-class people into subdivisions built after World War I.

Over time, the East Side’s footprint expanded. Areas to the north did, too, and North Side housing, businesses, and schools give that area its own feel.

Evansville’s inner core, meanwhile, is referred to as the Center City, or simply Downtown.

Boundaries of all these informal “sides of town” are not easily defined or agreed upon, but Coures says he still considers Pigeon Creek the main east-west divider.

Germania Maennerchor, a club on the West Side, hosts a three-day Volksfest every summer — a nod to the area’s German heritage. But it attracts people from across the city.

Coures considers any serious rivalry among sides of town to be a thing of the past.

In modern times, “it’s mostly colloquial,” he says.

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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