Evansville is Considered a Pocket City – But What Does That Mean?
Many of us who call Evansville home have done so our entire lives, myself included. Chances are at some point during that time, we've heard our hometown referred to as "The Pocket City." Have you ever wondered why? As it turns out, it's a nickname we've had for over 200 years.
City nicknames are fairly common. New York has "The Big Apple." Las Vegas is "Sin City." Boston is sometimes referred to as "Bean Town." Our state capitol of Indianapolis has two, "The Circle City," because the original design of the town was modeled after the U.S. capitol, and "Nap Town," partly because the word, "nap" is right in the middle (IndiaNAPolis), and partly due to the fact the perception of the city was that it lacked any excitement. That perception has changed over time, thanks in part to the city's professional sports teams, the Colts and the Pacers.
How Evansville Got the Nickname "The Pocket City"
I thought maybe we got the name because the state of Indiana kind of looks like a pocket on a pair of pants which would put us down at the base of it. That kind of makes sense, right? Right?!?! I mean, look at it in the context of the picture below and tell me that's not a ridiculous way to look at it.
It turns out, our location in the state is the reason we got the nickname, but not because the state looks like a pants pocket (although now that you see it, you won't be able to unsee it. Sorry, not sorry).
According to author Jacob Platt Dunn who wrote a piece called "Indiana Geographical Nomenclature" that was included in Volume 8 of the Indiana Magazine of History back in 1912, the name comes from the fact that at that time, we were the "big city" (my words, not his) in this part of the state which was known as the pocket. So, I was kind of right, right? <Sigh> Annnnnyyyway...
While the name may not be used quite as frequently as the others listed below, some local sports teams and one high school conference use it as part of their name. For example, Pocket City Basketball, a local youth basketball league, and the Pocket Athletic Conference, which includes North Posey, Gibson Southern, Southridge, Forest Park, and Boonville among others as members.
Chances are you've heard our city called a lot of things, none of which are official and most of them I won't repeat here, because they're usually uttered by people who don't like living here for one silly reason or another. However, outside of "Pocket City," we're often referred to as one of the following three names.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. One border of the entire city is the Ohio River which has been our calling card and a major part of history since the city was founded in 1812 by Hugh McGary, Jr. who named it after Robert Evans.
This one may not be as obvious, but the Ohio River is responsible for it as well. Where we sit on the river is shaped somewhat like a crescent.
This one isn't official, but may be used more than any other by residents and truck drivers whose routes take them through town. Since its creation, the joke has always been that there's nothing "express" about the Lloyd Expressway thanks to the number of stoplights along the way. However, to be fair, I'm old enough to remember when the Lloyd didn't exist, and getting from the west side of town where I grew up to the east side was easily a 30-minute drive. Now, depending on traffic, you can get from the east side to the west side and vice-versa in about 15 minutes.
No matter what name you give it, the name I like the best for Evansville is, "home."