Evansville, Indiana — the state’s third largest city nestled along a bend in the Ohio River is unique for many reasons. Simply ask our residents, the 4.7 million visitors who come to town each year, our business owners and civic leaders, and those who grew up in the River City.
We offer big-city amenities with our numerous attractions, shopping and dining options, and events. But we also keep our small-town, Midwestern charm and hospitality.
Today, nearly 118,000 people call Evansville home (a number that is likely to increase as the U.S. Census kicks off in 2020). It’s a large difference from the humble beginnings of the city back in 1812. Hugh McGary Jr. founded the town, purchasing 441 acres of land in March 1812, a spot that today is Downtown Evansville. The city has a beautiful seat along the Ohio River — set in a prominent bow of the waterway, which gives Evansville residents and visitors multiple eye-catching spots to watch river traffic, a staple of our city’s growth from its inception.
Originally named McGary’s Landing, the city was incorporated in 1817 under the name Evansville in honor of Colonel Robert Morgan Evans. Settlers to the southern Indiana town brought their work ethics into the growing industries here. Along with river trade, the city grew with the use of railroads and steamboats to transport coal, manufactured products, and hardwood. By the turn of the 20th century, our town along the Ohio had one of the largest hardwood industries, boasting 41 factories. Over time, we also would become known for our strong automotive and appliance industries.
Though our main industries have changed, companies still take advantage of Evansville’s prime spot in the Midwest by making the city their home. Companies like Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company; Accuride; Berry Global; Lewis Bakeries; Old National Bank; Atlas World Group; and more have established their headquarters here.
We also are the home of two major universities — the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville — and have a strong technical school in our Ivy Tech Community College campus. In 2018, partnerships with USI, UE, and Indiana University — along with several area medical systems — resulted in the creation of the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences campus, which currently is training tomorrow’s medical workforce right here in southern Indiana.
But it’s not all about work for us Evansvillians. Each year, our venues across the city welcome in big name concerts, basketball tournaments, special show events, local musicians and acts, and much more. The historic Downtown Victory Theatre plays home to our Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra as well as ballet performances, dance troupes, plays, and more.
Art, history, and science come together in our museums. Children can learn and explore through play on the levels of the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville. History and science come alive at the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science. Our heritage is remembered and celebrated at the Evansville African American Museum and LST 325 ship.
Residents and guests connect with nature at many stops in the city. Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden on the West Side is home to hundreds of animals from various regions of the world. Wesselman Woods — the largest urban virgin forest in the U.S. — showcases plants, trees, and small animals native to our region. Just north of Evansville in rural Vanderburgh County, visitors can take in the splendid views of golden fields and green farmlands.
If a day of shopping and dining has brought you to Evansville, there is a range of options to get your fix. Local shops and boutiques dot our city from the East Side and Downtown to the West Side and our neighbors in Newburgh and New Harmony, Indiana — check our curated list on page 20 to plan your shopping trip. And with more than 300 dining options from cafés and taverns to fine dining and foods from all over the world, you’re sure to find a new favorite spot (browse through our dining guide).
Evansville is a vibrant city through and through — don’t believe us? Just flip through our feature story “Our Colorful City” on page 26 to see how vivid, bright, and multi-colored the River City is.
There’s so much our big, small-town city has to offer, and we hope you have fun exploring it. Welcome to Evansville!