12 Indianapolis Nicknames That Will Surprise You

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A view of a city with skyscrapers and a large building with a domed roof
Indianapolis is a popular destination with an array of fascinating nicknames

Indiana's capital of Indianapolis is a vibrant place that re-invented itself after becoming a Rust Belt city in the 20th century. Today, the destination has an array of attractions for all types of visitors and a thriving economy.

This turbulent past and modern-day success have resulted in numerous Indianapolis nicknames being created for the region. The area's names all have fascinating origins, from the Racing Capital of the World, relating to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to the Cinderella of the Rust Belt. To learn more, continue reading for 12 alternate names for Indianapolis and their interesting backstories.

12 Nicknames for Indianapolis

A field of corn underneath fluffy white clouds and a blue sky
As Indiana is part of the Corn Belt, Indianapolis is a Corn Belt City

Corn Belt City

The Corn Belt is part of the Midwestern United States that features high levels of corn production. The states in this area include Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, plus parts of the surrounding states, like Ohio and Minnesota.

As Indiana is part of the Corn Belt, it makes sense that its capital and most populous city, Indianapolis, is a Corn Belt City. This name is known quite well by locals, and those in Midwestern states, but other visitors probably won't recognize it.

While corn remains an important crop in Indiana, the economy is diversifying, especially in Indiana. For example, the tech industry is on the rise in the capital. No matter how the city diversifies, locals will probably always think of their home as the Corn Belt City!

Amateur Sports Capital of the World

One of the recognizable monikers for the city is the Amateur Sports Capital of the World. Indianapolis is well-known for its sports teams; while there are professional and collegiate teams, there are also many amateur athletes.

In addition, this name relates to the fact that the city was the first in the United States to have a sports commission. This has led to Indianapolis hosting over 450 international sporting events to date, including an array of amateur competitions.

Circle City is one of the most popular Indianapolis nicknames
Monument Circle led to one of the popular Indianapolis nicknames, Circle City

Circle City

Another Indianapolis nickname that's quite well-known among locals is Circle City. It's primarily connected to the Indianapolis landmark Monument Circle. Located in Downtown Indianapolis, Monument Circle surrounds the famous Soldiers & Sailors Monument.

As these are much-loved landmarks in the city, it's not surprising that Indianapolis has a moniker related to them. In addition, the streets surrounding the monument are laid out in a circular fashion instead of following a grid system. Therefore, Indianapolis is quite literally a "circle city!"

Cinderella of the Rust Belt

The Rust Belt is a term for parts of the US that have seen industrial decline, primarily since the 1920s and 1930s. Before these periods, many cities had strong industrial economies, but changes in demand and production led the industries to go down rapidly.

Indianapolis is one of the cities that was said to be in the Rust Belt, suffering economic decline from a dwindling industrial sector. Unfortunately, these issues carried on into the early 2000s.

However, the city managed to re-invent itself, opening up to new business opportunities, welcoming new residents, and becoming a popular tourism destination. This rejuvenation and reinvention gave Indianapolis the name Cinderella of the Rust Belt.

Blue highway signs saying "Welcome to Indiana, Crossroads of America"
The nickname Crossroads of America was adopted by the state in 1937

Crossroads of America

The Crossroads of America is the official motto of Indiana. It was adopted in 1937 by the Indiana General Assembly. The name itself relates to the state's position as a transportation hub and place that people and goods pass through the get to all other parts of the United States.

This isn't a modern event, though. Even in the days of horse and wagon, people passed through the state. Because Indianapolis sits almost right in the middle of Indiana, it also carries the moniker. It's the Crossroads of Indiana, making it the center of the Crossroads of America.


One of the city's most unique and interesting nicknames is Naptown. So, why is Indianapolis called Naptown? This moniker dates to the 1920s and is connected to the area's jazz scene. It's thought that famous Indianapolis jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery made the name well-known due to popularizing a type of jazz called "Naptown Sound."

It was generally used as a trendy moniker, primarily by the region's African-American community, and it wasn't used just in reference to jazz. The name was mentioned when talking about cultural events and in everyday conversation about Indianapolis. The nickname is still well-known today but is less frequently used in an everyday context.

A winding racetrack full of colorful race cars with green grass on each side
Indianapolis is home to one of the most famous race circuits in the world

Racing Capital of the World

Another sports nickname for the city is Racing Capital of the World. The moniker predominantly stems from the presence of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway racing circuit.

This racing track may sound insignificant to those not interested in the sport. However, it's the most famous race track in the United States and one of the most well-known in the world. In addition, the Indiana landmark is home to one of the world's most renowned races, the Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500).

All of these car racing accolades make it obvious why Indianapolis goes by the Racing Capital of the World moniker. While this isn't used much in everyday conversation, it's used frequently by the tourism industry and, of course, by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Indy is probably the most well-known nickname for Indianapolis. The moniker is simply a colloquial and affectionate shortened version of the city name. This name can be seen and heard everywhere in Indianapolis, from everyday conversation to business names. The official city tourism bureau is even referred to as Visit Indy. Of course, there's also the Indianapolis 500 race, which is more well-known as the Indy 500.

A reddish-brown building with a clock tower under a blue sky
Union Station and good railroad connections led to the Railroad City moniker

Railroad City

One of the historical nicknames for the area is Railroad City. Indianapolis' railroads date to the 19th century, when the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad opened in the area.

The railroad was vital to the city, creating better connections with surrounding cities and states. This boosted the transportation of goods and consequently improved the economy and Indianapolis' growth. This growth was also connected to the opening of Union Station in 1853.

A few decades later was the first time Indianapolis was referred to by the Railroad City name by journalist William R. Holloway. The name stuck throughout the 19th and early 20th century. The moniker became less prevalent with the spread of highways and automobiles, but it's still used in literature about the city's history.

A football stadium full of blue bleachers with banners hanging on the ceiling
Indianapolis has many sports teams, including the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL


As discussed, Indianapolis is a big sporting city, leading to the nickname Sportsville. Along with amateur and collegiate teams, Indianapolis has two major league sports teams, the Indiana Pacers in the NBA and the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL. Whether you like basketball, football, racing, or almost any other sport, you can likely find a sporting event that interests you in Indy.

The Hoosier Capital

Most people will be aware of the Indiana fact that the area is called the Hoosier State. Therefore, the Indianapolis name of the Hoosier Capital, won't be that surprising. As Indiana is the Hoosier State, its capital city of Indianapolis must also be the Hoosier Capital!

This Indiana nickname gained recognition due to the concept of Hoosier Hysteria, a state of excitement around Indiana basketball. As the state's NBA team is located in Indianapolis (and the area is connected to many college and amateur teams), naming the city the Hoosier Capital or Hoosier City makes sense.

Chad Robertson Media/Shutterstock.com
A monument in front of a large building with green roofs and a dome with a flag
The Indiana State Capitol building can be found in Indianapolis, the Capital City

The Capital City

The Capital City is an easy-to-understand nickname. It simply stems from the fact that Indianapolis is the capital city of Indiana. Indianapolis became the state capital in 1825, nine years after Indiana became a state. The capital had previously been located in Corydon, Indiana.

Due to this, Indianapolis is home to the impressive Indiana State Capitol building, completed in 1888. While not used much as an alternate name in everyday conversation, you'll likely see the moniker in tourism literature. Of course, if you ask state residents which Indiana city is nicknamed the Capital City, they should say Indianapolis!

In Conclusion

Indiana's capital of Indianapolis has a lot to offer! From being the Racing Capital of the World to having a thriving amateur sports scene and many unique attractions. The region's modern-day culture and interesting past cumulated in the 12 nicknames covered here.

While most people are probably aware of the Indy moniker, did you know Indianapolis is named Naptown? No matter how many nicknames you already knew, hopefully, you've learned a few new things about the Hoosier Capital.

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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