An Overview of the 1960s in Evansville
Evansville in the 1960s, February 10-April 28, 2019, examines key happenings in our city during this nationally turbulent decade and highlights topics including education, commerce, city infrastructure, important occurrences, and the impact of national events.
Though Evansville was not devoid of unrest, perhaps because of its basic conservatism and its Midwest location it was not impacted by nor involved to as great an extent in the cultural upheaval that swept parts of the country during the decade of the 1960s. Although thousands of men from the area served in Vietnam and young people from the city lost their lives, there were no major demonstrations against the war; and the outbursts of racial unrest in Evansville were not on the scale of the disquiet that swept major cities.
During the 1960s, Evansville’s community leaders concentrated on the City’s education system, infrastructure, and commerce. Strides were made in upgrading educational opportunities at both the high school and college levels. In 1962, Lincoln High School, the segregated, black high-school in the City, was converted to an elementary school as part of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s integration program. That same year Harrison High School opened. In 1965, an extension campus of Indiana State University began classes in Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) and Evansville College became the University of Evansville in 1967.
Schools in the city enjoyed success in sports in the 1960s as Evansville College won basketball championships on three occasions, Bosse High School and North High School won state high school basketball titles, and Reitz High School enjoyed success on the gridiron.
Ambitious building projects included construction of the Civic Center, the riverfront renewal project, extensive renewal of the downtown area, completion of the floodwall, the opening of branch libraries, and the construction of high-rise housing units. In 1963, Evansville became home to Indiana’s first enclosed shopping complex as Washington Square Mall opened on the southeast side and retail shopping began a major move away from downtown.
Through artifacts, imagery, and documents, Evansville in the 1960s looks back at a period when Evansvillians were living through quickly changing times.