The city is home to public and private enterprise in many areas, as Evansville serves as the economic hub of the region.
A popular tourist destination for the region, Evansville is home to Tropicana Evansville, the state's first casino, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, one of the oldest and largest zoos in the state, and a robust sports tourism industry.
There was a continuous human presence in the area that became Evansville from at least 8,000 BC by Paleo-Indians. The land encompassing Evansville was formally relinquished by the Delaware in 1805 to General William Henry Harrison, then governor of the Indiana Territory.
Archaeologists have identified several archaic and ancient sites in and near Evansville, with the most complex at Angel Mounds from about 900 A. French hunters and trappers were among the first Europeans to come to the area, using Vincennes as a base of operations. purchased about 441 acres and named it "Mc Gary's Landing".
Situated on an oxbow in the Ohio River, the city is often referred to as the "Crescent Valley" or "River City".
As testament to the Ohio's grandeur, early French explorers named it La Belle Riviere ("The Beautiful River").
The west side of Evansville was for many years cut off from the main part of the city by Pigeon Creek and the wide swath of factories that made the creek an important industrial corridor.
The project was intended to open Indiana to commerce and improve transportation from New Orleans to New York City.Manufacturing also took off, particularly in the automobile and refrigeration industries.The city saw exponential growth in the early twentieth century with production of lumber and the manufacturing of furniture.The era of Evansville's greatest growth occurred in the second half of the 19th century, following the disruptions of the Civil War.The city was a major stop for steamboats along the Ohio River, and it was the home port for a number of companies engaged in trade via the river.
Throughout this period Evansville's main ethnic groups consisted of Germans fleeing Europe, Protestant Scotch-Irish from the South, Catholic Irish coming for canal or railroad work, New England businessmen, and newly freed slaves from Western Kentucky.