A Quick Dive into Fishers’ History: How Did We Get Here?

Welcome to Fishers, Indiana, a gem of a city with a story that’s as fascinating as it is dynamic. It was once a modest town but has now bloomed into a bustling, vibrant city. But how did this transformation happen? How did a modest town blossom into a rising tech city that we know today? Let’s go back in time to learn about Fishers’ history, from its small beginnings to today.

The Early Days: Founding of Fishers

A portrait of William Conner, Conner Prairie

In 1802, the trailblazer William Conner settled at what is now known as Fishers. He built a log cabin and a trading post along the White River.  This spot, Conner Prairie, is still a living history museum. Indiana became a state in 1816. After that, more settlers came to the area. The Delaware Indians also gave up their land claims in 1818. In 1823, they established Hamilton County and Delaware Township. 

Infrastructure & Growth: Mid to Late 19th Century

By 1826, Fishers was up with its first school and mills. In 1826, the West-Harris House, a.k.a. Ambassador House popped up near the White River. It’s now a local history museum and community event spot.

Map of Peru and Indianapolis Railroad, Maps of the Past

In 1849, the Peru & Indianapolis Railroad arrived, bringing more people to the area. They called the area “Fisher’s Switch”.  In 1872, it was platted by Salathial Fisher (yes, that’s where the name comes from!).  And in 1891, boom – Fisher’s Station became incorporated. In 1908, Fishers decided to drop the “Switch” from its name. “Fishers” now, thank you very much!

William Conner’s farm became a historical spot. Eli Lilly bought it in 1934 and started restoring it. By 1964, it was under the care of Earlham College. The Indianapolis Water Company made the Geist Reservoir in 1943 to increase the city’s water supply. In the 1970s, they made plans to expand the reservoir, but they abandoned them. As a result, they built residential areas around it.

From Town to City

The transformation of Fishers from a town to a city is a pivotal chapter in its history. In 2015, Fishers officially changed its name, which demonstrated its growth and development. In 2012, a referendum passed, allowing Fishers to become a city. By the end of 2014, its first mayor and city council were sworn in. 

Residents of Fishers, IN, This is Fishers

The shift from town to city represented the residents’ dreams and the community’s growth. It symbolized a new era of opportunities and community spirit.

Population and Industrial Growth

Fishers’ growth in population and industry in the latter half of the 20th century is nothing short of extraordinary.  In 1963, the town was home to about 350 people. This number grew to 2,000 by 1980 and surged to 7,500 by 1990. 

By the 2010 census, Fishers’ population had reached 76,794; by 2019, it was estimated to be 95,310​​. Fishers is growing quickly, making it an important suburban hub and a popular place to live. The industrial growth accompanied this demographic boom. Since then, Fishers have attracted businesses and promoted innovation and entrepreneurship.

Historic Sites and Buildings

Let’s take a stroll through the history of Fishers, Indiana, and focus on its historic sites and buildings. These landmarks tell the tale of Fishers’ journey from a humble pioneer settlement to a modern suburban city.

Conner Prairie: A Living History

Conner Prairie, located at 13400 Allisonville Road, is a standout historical site in Fishers. This living history museum is where William Conner had a trading post in the early 1800s. It’s now a vibrant showcase of 19th-century life.

Civil War reenactment at Conner Prairie, Paul J. Everette

Visitors can enjoy Civil War reenactments, explore Native American encampments, and stroll through a 19th-century village. The interactive elements like making bread, playing period games, and watching blacksmiths at work make history come alive​​.

The Historic Ambassador House and Heritage Gardens: A Glimpse of Elegance

Starting as a simple log cabin in the late 1800s, the Ambassador House became a grandeur and elegant symbol. It was expanded in 1880 by Addison Clay Harris and his wife India and later moved to its current location by the town in 1948.

The Famous Ambassador House in Fishers, IN, Visit Hamilton County

Today, it’s a hub for events with its stunning Heritage Gardens. The site is perfect for weddings, parties, and corporate events. Visitors will love its historical charm.

Potter’s Bridge Park: A Rustic Charm

Potter’s Bridge Park houses the only remaining covered bridge in the county. This bridge was built in 1870 by Josiah Durfee and is a testament to 19th-century engineering. It was listed on the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures in 1978 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A view of the Potter’s Bridge Park, Hamilton County

For the residents of Fishers, Indiana, the bridge is more than crossing over the White River. It’s a preserved piece of their town’s rich history. The bridge is more than a crossing over the White River; it’s a preserved piece of history. The surrounding park and the White River Greenway Trail offer picturesque scenery and a chance to explore the area’s natural beauty​​.

Fishers Today: A Glimpse into the Future

Fishers, Indiana, has evolved from its quiet suburban roots into a hub of innovation and progress. This city is making big waves with its forward-thinking approach and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s also setting the bar high in urban development and technology and creating an enviable quality of life. 

As you explore Fishers, you’ll see a city that’s not just keeping up with the times but is actively crafting its future. From exciting new developments to ambitious future plans, Fishers is a city that’s not just living for today but is keenly shaping what comes next.

Recent Developments and Future Plans

Fishers is experiencing an exciting phase of growth and development. A new vision for downtown Fishers promises to be a game changer, aiming for completion by 2026. CityView, a $90 million mixed-use building, is set to transform the eastern gateway to downtown Fishers.

It will house 184 luxury apartments for active adults over 55, commercial spaces, and modern amenities. The development will start in 2024 and is anticipated to redefine Fishers’ skyline by 2026​​.

Another significant project that’s underway is the Rebar’s District South. Once done, it will revamp the south side of South Street by converting vacant properties into a $32.5 million mixed-use urban village. This includes new headquarters for the Annex Group, loft residences, retail units, and community spaces, with plans to welcome residents and businesses by early 2025​​.

Fishers as a Model City

A snapshot of FIshers, IN, CNBC

Fishers has been recognized as a model city for its strategic and successful transformation. In 2017, Money Magazine named it the #1 Place to Live in the US, a testament to its achievements. This recognition reflects Fishers’ commitment to neighborhood development, support for high-growth companies, and innovative city processes.

Fishers, Indiana – The Rising Tech City

Fishers isn’t just about agriculture anymore. It’s now a haven for tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. The city has seen a 70% increase in tech jobs over the past decade. Fishers is the chosen home base for companies like ClearObject and Emplify. ClearObject is an IoT systems innovator, and Emplify is a mobile-first employee engagement app. And we can’t forget Fishers Digest, the top Fishers newsletter media company.

Fishers won the Rising Tech City award from TechPoint. The award recognizes its transformation from a bedroom community into a technology hub. The city has intentionally become a good place for tech companies by focusing on talent and entrepreneurship.

The trajectory for technology in Fishers is set high. The city wants to attract more tech giants and startups, so it can grow even more. 

The Legacy Continues

Our city’s journey is as rich and diverse as the community itself. Fishers started as a small trading post and grew into a thriving, modern city. It has always been a place of growth and change. 

Fishers is special because its past is woven into our present and future. Fishers is a living, evolving community. Every street, building, and park has a story of determination, creativity, and togetherness. 

As residents or visitors, we are part of this ongoing narrative. I encourage you to visit the historic Nickel Plate District. You can also stroll along the paths of Geist Reservoir. Don’t miss out on the vibrant community events. There’s so much to discover and be a part of in Fishers.

Share Your Piece of Fishers’ History

Now, it’s your turn to share! What’s your Fishers story? 

If you live in Fishers or have visited recently, we want to know what you think. Leave a comment below, share your favorite moments, and let us know what Fishers means to you. Share your piece of the Fishers story today!

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