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Evansville is Indiana’s third largest city and largest city in the southern part of the state. It is the heart of a larger metropolitan area that includes Vanderburgh, Posey, Gibson and Warrick Counties in Indiana along with Henderson and Webster Counties in Kentucky. Overall, Evansville services a larger region that includes all of Southwestern Indiana, Southeastern Illinois and parts of Western Kentucky (along with the Owensboro area) in a region generally known as the Tri-State Area. As the hub of the region, several state highways converge on the city while three interstates and U.S. 41 provide regional connections further out.
A view of the Evansville skyline along the Ohio River as viewed from Sunset Park. Photo by Thomas Decker (10/12/08).
Evansville was founded in 1812 on a horseshoe bend in the Ohio River and unlike Indiana’s other large cities to the north, was founded as a river city. While it grew slowly at first, it was soon joined by the Wabash and Erie Canal, which helped provide the city with a link to the Great Lakes. Railroad connections followed and Evansville began to grow similar to other Ohio River cities, benefiting as a manufacturing town with links to several types of transportation.
In the 20th Century, Evansville transitioned from a manufacturing city to more of a medical, service and retail based one as industry began to move out of the city. The city began to expand outward, especially to the east as suburbs were forming in the 1950s and beyond. Local highways were soon built to handle the added traffic generated by the city and eventually interstate connections were made with Interstates 64 and 164. However, Evansville had always suffered from a lack of connection to the state’s capital, Indianapolis. It was ultimately this goal that drove the state to begin construction on the largest road construction project in the region’s history, the construction of Interstate 69 from Evansville to Indianapolis, with half of the route between Interstate 64 and Bloomington opened on November 19, 2012. As of 2010, Evansville had 117,429 people with the larger metropolitan area having 358,676 people. To this day, Evansville continues to serve as the most urban part of Southwestern Indiana.