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As a testament to Ohio's grandeur, early French explorers named it La Belle Riviere ("The Beautiful River").The area has been inhabited by various cultures for millennia, dating back at least 10,000 years.Other local educational institutions include nationally ranked Signature School and the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.In 2008, Evansville was voted the best city in the country in which "to live, work, and play" by the readers of Kiplinger, and in 2009 the 11th best. Following the abandonment of Angel Mounds between the years 14, tribes of Miami, Shawnee, Piankeshaw, Wyandot, Delaware and other Native American peoples were known to be in the area.The population was 117,429 at the 2010 census, making it the state's third-most populous city after Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, the largest city in Southern Indiana, and the 232nd-most populous city in the United States.It is the commercial, medical, and cultural hub of Southwestern Indiana and the Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky tri-state area, home to over 911,000 people.Manufacturing also took off, particularly in the automobile and refrigeration industries.The city saw exponential growth in the early twentieth century with the production of lumber and the manufacturing of furniture.
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.