Why Fishers?: In midst of big changes, city maintains small-town sense of community


The City of Fishers has gone through a major transformation in a relatively short time frame. Stephanie Perry, the city’s assistant director of community and public relations, grew up next to Conner Prairie and said at that time, the area was mostly cornfields.

“I was raised just north of Conner Prairie, close to 141st Street, and graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School back before there were even two high schools,” she said. “I graduated in 2006 before Fisher’s High School was built, or I would have gone there.”

Perry said it took about 40 minutes to drive to school because there were so many four-way stops and zero roundabouts. There also wasn’t much to do in Fishers except go to football games and hang out at Steak-N-Shake.

“Now, it’s completely different,” she said. “I feel like there’s so many great dining options and so many things to do. Back then, if you really wanted to do something fun and exciting, you felt like you had to leave Fishers. I think one of my favorite things now is I can live, work and play here in this community.”

A lot of those changes started while Perry was in college at Purdue, she said, and things really boomed in the last five to eight years. She said she never planned to move back to her hometown. She initially got a job in Cincinnati, where she was dating her now-husband, who also happened to be from Fishers. They moved back to the area when Perry got a job in Indianapolis, and they initially moved to Carmel.

“(We) really chose Carmel because I hadn’t been in this area for a while,” she said. “We lived on Main Street in Carmel, where there was a ton to do and we were right by the Monon (Trail), and it was really everything we were looking for while still being close to downtown, and then we started to kind of realize that Fishers had all this cool stuff, too.”

They ended up buying Perry’s childhood home from her parents, she said, and now her kids are growing up in the same house she lived in as a kid. But their childhood Fishers experiences are very different from hers.

“It is such a great place to raise a family — great schools, safe, welcoming, but it also has these amazing amenities now that you don’t feel like you have to leave the city limits to go get,” Perry said. “When I was young, I didn’t feel like there was the hustle and bustle that’s here now. I mean, when I was growing up, the Hamilton East Public Library only had the Noblesville branch, so we didn’t even have a library in Fishers.”

Perry also mentioned recreational opportunities like Top Golf, shopping opportunities such as Ikea, and outdoor amenities like the Nickel Plate Trail and all the Fishers’ parks.

“We have almost 30 parks,” she said. “When I was growing up, I remember Holland Park. because that’s our first park in Fishers. But (now we have), you know, the AgriPark and Geist Waterfront Park and these really unique parks and all the diversity of the parks and the offerings and the programs.”

Perry added that the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater in downtown Fishers offers numerous activities throughout the year, such as the weekly farmers market, concerts and festivals.

All those amenities are great for longtime residents and newcomers, she said.

“Growing up, people here wanted to move to New York and L.A., and go to these big cities and go to the coast or Chicago or Seattle, and now they’re coming here because it’s affordable and it’s safe and it has so much to do,” she said. “They’re blown away by what they can get here in central Indiana in close proximity to Indianapolis.”

Perry noted that while Fishers has gone through a lot of changes in the past decade, it still retains its small-town community feel and celebrates its history.


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Fishers is home to Conner Prairie, which includes programs and Prairie Town, a living museum with residents who demonstrate life in the 1800s.

“There are still iconic things here that were here long ago,” she said. “I think a lot of times people think just of the progress and the development and all the new, but there really are so many glimpses of old, original Fishers that are really special and I think really meaningful.”

Among those is Conner Prairie, Allisonville Nursery, Holland Park and historic downtown buildings that have been preserved. And, Perry said, the feeling of community is still very much the same as when she was growing up.

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Fishers houses a relatively new branch of Hamilton East Public Library. (Photo courtesy of HEPL)

Fishers by the numbers

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the City of Fishers has a population of about 102,000.

About 27 percent of the Fishers population is under the age of 18, and about 50 percent identified themselves as female.

The ethnic and racial demographics of Fishers is about 81 percent white, about 8 percent Asian, 5 percent Black, nearly 4 percent mixed races, and about 3 percent Hispanic or Latino.

About 3,400 Fishers residents are military veterans.

According to Census data, about 10 percent of residents were born in another country and 11 percent speak a language other than English in their home.

The median home value in Fishers is $339,000, and the median household income is $126,548.