Indianapolis usually brings to mind Hoosier dreams and the Indy 500. But the nation’s twelfth largest city–often described as having small-town charm with cosmopolitan style–also has a rich African American heritage. Madame C. J. Walker, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and attorney and record executive Max Siegel are counted among the city’s notables.
Siegel, president of Verity Records and senior vice president of Jive, spends his workweek in New York but looks forward to relaxing in his lakeside home on weekends. “A lot of people think [Indianapolis is] country, but it’s really not. [And] the quality of life here is very affordable. I probably pay less for my home on a two-acre lot than most people do for a 1,500-square-foot apartment in Manhattan,” he says. At the time of this article, the average price of a single-family home in Indianapolis was less than $140,000.
The unemployment rate in Indianapolis is less than 5% and the average salary is above that of the rest of the country. Among the city’s strongest industries are manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service sectors. Research-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. plans to add 8,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
The Indiana Black Expo attracts more than 80,000 people each year to its Music Heritage Festival and a number of hot musical acts. Sports is also a big draw to Indianapolis. Approximately 68% of the spectators and 76% of the participants to the sporting events come from outside the city. “[And] about 80% of the national governing bodies for sports is headquartered here, including the USA Gymnastics federation, NCAA and [the Black Coaches Association]. A lot of the pre-Olympic trials take place here as well,” Siegel says. He also estimates that the Indy 500 and NASCAR Brickyard 400 attract at least a half million people to the city. Here are Siegel’s star attractions.
AROUND TOWN : Indianapolis
- The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel (350 W. Maryland St.; 317-822-3500) is the largest convention hotel in downtown Indianapolis. It features high-speed Internet access, a business center, and express check-in and check-out.
- Popular with celebrities is The Canterbury Hotel (123 S. Illinois St.; 317-634-3000). “It’s a very upscale, private hotel [with] old-world charm, and it’s centrally located,” Siegel says. This European boutique luxury hotel has 99 guestrooms, 25 suites, and a private entrance to the Circle Centre Mall, and Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome via skywalks.
- Oceanaire Seafood Room (30 S. Meridian St.; 317-955-2277) “The menu’s incredible and the service is excellent. It has more of an East Coast feel than any of the other restaurants here, which is unique to Indianapolis,” remarks Siegel. The seafood is flown in from around the world daily, and it serves a steak-cut Alaskan halibut and hard-to-find delicacies like true Dover sole. Reservations are suggested.
- Palomino Euro Bistro (49 W. Maryland St. #189; 317-974-0400) is good for either lunch or dinner. “It has a European kind of feel. It has some staples, but people have to be more adventurous with what they want from the menu,” says Siegel, who recommends the chopped