Why is Indianapolis called Naptown?

The reasoning behind Indy’s Circle City nickname is obvious, but what about its Naptown moniker? Here’s where the name originated.

An aerial view of downtown Indianapolis and Monument Circle.

An aerial view of downtown Indianapolis and Monument Circle.

Photo via Indiana Historical Society

Indianapolis is a city of many names. Indy? Makes sense. Circle City? Yep, that checks out. But why Naptown?

Contrary to what you might think, Naptown isn’t a derogatory reference to the city’s sleepiness (which many would argue isn’t accurate). It actually has its roots in something completely opposite: Indy’s vibrant jazz culture of the 1920s.

Legend has it that jazz club musicians shortened our city’s six-syllable name (read: a mouthful) for easier use in both song and casual conversation. They simply stressed the fourth, most prominent syllable in the name Indianapolis, and the rest is history.

The term was first used in print by the Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American newspaper that’s still in circulation today, in 1927. Nowadays, many use it as an affectionate nickname, including local businesses like Naptown Thrift and Naptown Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Boxing.

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