Evansville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 121,582, and a metropolitan population of 342,815. It is the county seat of Vanderburgh County and the regional hub for the Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois tri-state area.
Settled in 1812, the city is situated on a gentle horseshoe bend on the Ohio River and often referred to as "River City." One of the most popular attractions in the region is Casino Aztar, the first riverboat casino in the state of Indiana. Evansville is also home to both the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana.
The broad economic base of the region has helped to build an economy which is known for its stability, diversity, and vitality. In 2004 Evansville was named an "All-America City" by the National Civic League and in 2008 it was voted one of the best cities in the country by Kiplinger.
Settled by immigrants some 200 years ago, the city of Evansville is situated on a gentle horseshoe bend on the Ohio River. The first cabin built in Evansville was built in 1809, home of George Miller. As testament to the Ohio's grandeur, the early French explorers named it La Belle Riviere ("The Beautiful River"). Initially settled by Americans in 1812, the city was laid out in 1817. It was named in honor of Robert Morgan Evans (1783-1844), one of its founders, an officer under then General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812.
It soon became a thriving commercial town, with an extensive river trade. It was incorporated in 1819 and received a city charter in 1847. The completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio River, greatly accelerated the city's growth. Evansville's first railroad company, Evansville & Crawfordsville Railroad, was built in 1850. By the U.S. census of 1890 Evansville ranked as the 56th largest urban area in the United States, a rank it gradually fell from in the early 1900s.
The first bridge to cross the Ohio River and connect Evansville with Henderson, Kentucky, was built in 1932. After the devastating Ohio River flood of 1937, the city established the Evansville-Vanderburgh Levee Authority District. It built a system of earth levees, concrete walls, and pumping stations designed to protect the city.
During World War II, Evansville was the largest inland producer of LSTs (Tank Landing Ships). Evansville also produced a specific line of the P-47 Thunderbolt known as the P-47Ds. These planes were also produced in Farmingdale on Long Island, New York. The Evansville craft were given the suffix "-Ra" while the Farmingdale planes were given the suffix "-Re". Evansville produced a total 6,242 P-47s and 167 LSTs during the war.
In the early 1950s, industrial production in the city expanded at a rapid pace. Culturally, Evansville evolved in the 1950s with the construction of subdivisions on the outer reaches of the community. This shift in population led to other developments as shopping started to shift from the downtown area into suburban shopping centers. In 1963, Washington Square Mall became the first enclosed mall in the state of Indiana.
During the final third of the 20th century, Evansville became the commercial, medical, and service hub for the tri-state region. A 1990s economic spurt was fueled by the growth of the University of Southern Indiana, which now has 10,000 students. The arrival of giant Toyota at nearby Princeton and AK Steel plants, as well as Casino Aztar, Indiana's first gaming boat, also contributed to the growth of jobs.
On November 6, 2005, an F3 tornado struck the Evansville area and killed 25 people. The tornado began in Kentucky and crossed the Ohio River. It struck Ellis Park Racecourse, East Brook Mobile Home Park, and then Newburgh, leaving a of path of destruction for more than . Nearly $85 million in damage was done. Following the Evansville Tornado of November 2005, the coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted, "I don't think I've ever seen a community of people come out so quickly to help each other. All communities come together after a disaster, but this one is exceptional.
The city faces the Ohio River along its southern boundary. Most of the city lies in a shallow valley surrounded by low rolling hills. The west side of the city is built on these rolling hills and is home to Burdette Park, Mesker Amphitheatre, and Mesker Park Zoo. The eastern portion of the city developed in the valley and is protected by a series of levees that closely follow the path of Interstate 164. A notable landmark on the east side is the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve.
The Evansville Metropolitan Area, the 142nd largest in the United States, includes four Indiana counties (Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick) and two Kentucky counties (Henderson, and Webster). The metropolitan area does not include Owensboro, Kentucky, which is an adjacent metropolitan area about southeast of Evansville. This area is sometimes referred to as "Kentuckiana," although "Tri-State Area" is more commonly used by the local media.
There are 52,273 households out of which 26.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% are married couples living together, 13.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.6% are non-families. 35.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.24 and the average family size is 2.90.
In the city the population consists of 22.7% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 88.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $31,963, and the median income for a family is $41,091. Males have a median income of $30,922 compared to $21,776 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,388. 13.7% of the population and 10.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.0% of those under the age of 18 and 8.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
A wide variety of concerts, plays, and other special events are held at the 2,500-seat auditorium at The Centre downtown. Outdoor concerts and special events are held at the 8,500-seat Mesker Amphitheatre on the city's west side. Larger concerts, sporting events, and special events are held at the 12,500-seat Roberts Municipal Stadium on the city's east side.
The New Harmony Theatre is a professional theatre produced by the University of Southern Indiana and operating under an agreement with the Actors Equity Association. Well known actors such as Polly Holliday and Louis Zorich have appeared on the NHT stage, which presents a three play season every summer. The University of Southern Indiana also features a robust theatre program with a professional repertory season in the Fall.
Evansville Civic Theatre is Southern Indiana's longest running community theater, dating from the 1920s when the community theater movement swept across the country. From its humble beginnings at the old Central High School auditorium, Evansville Civic Theatre has had many homes – Memorial Coliseum, Bosse High School, the Rose Room of the McCurdy Hotel, the Elks Ballroom, and the Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences. In 1974, Evansville Civic Theatre acquired the historic Columbia Movie Theater as its permanent home.
The University of Evansville also maintains a prestigious theater program, which features four mainstage and two studio productions a year. A small independent music scene can also be found with local bands playing nightclubs such as Club 1123 and Boney Junes.
Each July the city plays host to the Evansville Freedom Festival. It includes the Thunder on the Ohio unlimited hydroplane races, a firework extravaganza over the Ohio River, and more. The United States Navy's Blue Angels have been an added attraction in recent years along with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.
On the last weekend of August, the popular Frog Follies takes place, when over 4,000 street rods converge on the Vanderburgh County 4-H fairgrounds north of the city.
The Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science is home to one of southern Indiana's most established and significant cultural centers. It holds the Koch Planetarium, the oldest in Indiana. Also on the campus is the Evansville Museum Transportation Center, which features transportation in southern Indiana from the latter part of the Nineteenth Century through the mid-Twentieth Century.
The Reitz Home Museum is Evansville's only Victorian House Museum. It is noted as one of the country's finest examples of Second French Empire architecture. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
In October 2005 the USS LST 325 moored in Evansville and was turned into a museum (USS LST Ship Memorial) in recognition of the city's war effort. During World War II, Evansville produced 167 LSTs (and 35 other craft), making it the largest inland producer of LSTs in the nation. The USS LST 325 is the last navigable tank landing ship in operation.
The new Children's Museum of Evansville opened its doors to the public in September 2006. The museum is the result of two years of planning and was constructed in the historic Central Library downtown. The Art Deco building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum offers visitors three floors of interactive exhibits and galleries.
Located on nearly of rolling hills in western Vanderburgh County, Burdette Park features an aquatic center with water slides, three pools, and a snack bar. It also offers a BMX racing track, batting cages, softball diamonds, miniature golf, tennis courts, and locations for fishing.
Evansville's Mesker Park Zoo opened in 1928. Set on a spacious 50 acre park, the zoo features over 700 animals roaming freely in natural habitats surrounded by exotic plants, wildflowers, and trees.
Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve is a National Natural Landmark with nearly of virgin bottomland hardwood forest. It is the largest tract of virgin forest located inside any city limits within the United States. The Nature Center features exhibits, events, wildlife observation areas, meeting rooms, library, and gift shop.
Although high school athletics are a constant source of local patronage, the University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana regularly draw thousands of spectators to NCAA Division I and Division II sporting events. University of Evansville plays at Roberts Stadium. University of Southern Indiana plays at the USI PAC.
The Evansville Otters baseball team has played at historic Bosse Field in the Frontier League since 1995. Bosse Field opened in 1915 and is the third oldest baseball stadium still in use in the United States.
Evansville is also home to the Evansville IceMen professional hockey team of the All American Hockey Association and two semi-professional football teams: the Ohio River Bearcats of the Midwest Football League, and the Tri-State Titans of the Mid Ohio Football League.
Evansville offers modern sports facilities for both soccer and ice skating events. The Goebel Soccer Complex is a $3.4 million project that opened in the spring of 2004 on 70 acres of land and features nine Olympic-size irrigated Bermuda grass fields and one Olympic-size AstroPlay turf field. Additionally, the EVSC Double Cola Fields provides twin soccer fields and stadium seating for high school regular season and postseason matches. Swonder Ice Arena is a $12.5 million double-rink facility that opened in the fall of 2002 and features a fitness center, a skate park, and party rooms.
Every year on the last weekend in June, Evansville hosts the Thunder on the Ohio unlimited hydroplane boat race on the Ohio River in downtown Evansville. Thunder on the Ohio is the first official race of the American Boat Racing Association, and has been broadcast on ESPN and the SPEED (TV channel). The Thunder on the Ohio race is part of the Evansville Freedom Festival.
|Evansville Otters||Baseball||1995||Frontier League||Bosse Field|
|Evansville IceMen||Hockey||2008||All American Hockey Association||Swonder Ice Arena|
|Ohio River Bearcats||Football||2008||Midwest Football League||Goebel Soccer Complex|
|Tri-State Titans||Football||2008||Mid Ohio Football League||Harrison High School|
The only daily newspaper is the Evansville Courier & Press, which is owned by the E.W. Scripps Company. The newspaper also publishes the monthly Evansville Business Journal for the region and owns the paper in neighboring Henderson, Kentucky. Evansville Living, a bi-monthly city magazine published by the Tucker Publishing Group, showcases the people, businesses, and community. Other publications include Maturity Journal, a free monthly newspaper aimed at senior citizens, News4U, a free monthly entertainment magazine, and Club Evansville, a magazine aimed at the youth of Evansville.
The city has 32 radio stations that include adult contemporary, big band, classical, inspirational, jazz, rock, country, oldies, and easy listening formats. The University of Evansville's WUEV FM is a non-commercial station that plays a variety of alternative, classical, and jazz music. Other notable radio stations include alternative/hard rock station 103 GBF (also known as "the River City Rocker") and pop music stations such as Hot 96 WSTO and 106.1 Kiss FM.
Evansville is the 101st-largest television market in the United States according to Nielsen Media Research. The designated market area consists of 30 counties in Southeastern Illinois, Southwestern Indiana, and Northwestern Kentucky. The 2007 population estimate of this 30-county region is nearly one million people.
The major local broadcast television stations are:
The cable Public Access Television channels are:
Vanderburgh County's delegation to the Indiana State House of Representatives comprises four representatives: Dennis Avery (District 75), Trent Van Haaften (District 76), Phil Hoy (District 77), and Suzanne Crouch (District 78). Evansville and Vanderburgh County are represented by two state senators. In general, the southern third of the county and Armstrong Township are part of District 49, currently held by Larry Lutz. The county's west side is also in District 49. Most of the county is in District 50, which extends to the east, a seat held by Vaneta Becker.
|Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center*||Charter||1,788|
|North High School||Public||1,515|
|Harrison High School||Public||1,455|
|FJ Reitz High School||Public||1,352|
|Central High School||Public||1,347|
|Benjamin Bosse High School||Public||873|
|Reitz Memorial High School||Catholic||864|
|Mater Dei High School||Catholic||638|
|Evansville Lutheran School||Lutheran||180|
|Evansville Day School**||Private||64|
|Faith Heritage Christian School***||Baptist||25|
*The Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center draws students from nine school districts.
**Evansville Day School offers grades JPK-12. The school's enrollment including all grades is 325.
***Faith Heritage Christian School offers grades K-12. The school's enrollment including all grades is 105.
Corporate headquarters include Accuride, Atlas Van Lines, Berry Plastics, Old National Bank, Shoe Carnival, and Vectren. The city is also home to American General Finance, a division of AIG, and Mead Johnson Nutritionals, a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Major manufacturing operations in and around the city include AK Steel in Rockport, Alcoa in Newburgh, Toyota in Princeton, and Whirlpool Corporation in Evansville.
The city's economy was expanded by Casino Aztar's entertainment facility in 1995. The main complex consists of a 2,700 passenger riverboat casino, a 250-room hotel, a 1,660 vehicle parking garage, and pavilion housing pre-boarding facilities, retail shops, restaurants, and lounge area. An adjacent entertainment district features a 100-room boutique hotel and additional restaurants.
The City of Evansville offers a unique pro-business tax structure for companies locating inside the Evansville Urban Enterprise Zone. Established in 1983 as one of only six enterprise zones in the State of Indiana, the Evansville Urban Enterprise Zone offers inventory tax credits and other tax credits to eligible businesses.
All exterior shots on the 1988-1997 sitcom Roseanne are still photographs taken in and around Evansville. The Connors' house is located at 619 South Runnymeade Avenue, and the Lobo Lounge is a pizzeria located at the corner of Edgar and Louisiana Streets. Matt Williams, the show's creator and producer, is a native of Evansville.
The Daily Show has featured Evansville in two episodes. The first featured a story about comedian Carrot Top's reopening the historic Victory Theatre. The second poked fun at former mayor Russel Lloyd Jr. for skipping out on a city meeting to attend Cher's Farewell Tour concert being performed on the same night at Roberts Stadium.
Evansville was also featured in Alton Brown's series Feasting on Asphalt. Alton and his crew visited the Greyhound Bus station to look at the vending machines, the YWCA tea room for lunch, and the Hilltop Inn for a brain sandwich and burgoo.