Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza & CityBus depot (2011)
Location of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County and the state of Indiana
|Country||United States of America|
|Townships||Fairfield, Perry, Sheffield, Wea|
|Founded by||William Digby|
|Named for||General Lafayette|
|• Mayor||Tony Roswarski (D)|
|• Land||29.38 sq mi (76.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.13 sq mi (0.3 km2)|
|• Metro||904.6 sq mi (2,343 km2)|
|Elevation||692 ft (211 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,441/sq mi (942/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
47901, 47904, 47905, 47909
|Major State Roads|
|Airports||Purdue University Airport|
|GNIS feature ID||437501|
Lafayette (/ -/, LAH-fee-ET, LAF-ee-ET) is a city in and the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States, located 63 miles (101 km) northwest of Indianapolis and 105 miles (169 km) southeast of Chicago. West Lafayette, on the other side of the Wabash River, is home to Purdue University, which contributes significantly to both communities. Together, Lafayette and West Lafayette form the core of the Lafayette, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the population of Lafayette was 67,140, a 19% increase from 56,397 in 2000. Meanwhile, the 2010 Census pegged the year-round (excluding Purdue University students) population of West Lafayette at 29,596 and the Tippecanoe County population at 172,780.
Lafayette was founded in 1825 on the southeast bank of the Wabash River near where the river becomes impassable for riverboats upstream, though a French fort and trading post had existed since 1717 on the opposite bank and three miles downstream. It was named for the French general Marquis de Lafayette, a revolutionary war hero.
When European explorers arrived at this area, it was inhabited by a tribe of Miami Indians known as the Ouiatenon or Weas. In 1717, the French government established Fort Ouiatenon across the Wabash River and three miles (5 km) south of present-day Lafayette. The fort became the center of trade for fur trappers, merchants and Indians. An annual reenactment and festival known as Feast of the Hunters' Moon is held there each autumn.
The town of Lafayette was platted in May 1825 by William Digby, a trader. It was designated as the county seat of the newly formed Tippecanoe County the following year. Like many frontier towns, Lafayette was named for General Lafayette, a French officer who significantly aided George Washington's Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette toured the United States in 1824 and 1825.
In its earliest days, Lafayette was a shipping center on the Wabash River. In 1838, Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, the first United States Patent Commissioner, published a booklet titled Valley of the Upper Wabash, Indiana, with Hints on Its Agricultural Advantages, to promote settlement of the region. By 1845, Ellsworth had purchased 93,000 acres (380 km2) of farmland around Lafayette and moved there from Connecticut to supervise land sales. By 1847 Ellsworth was distributing broadsides looking for farmers to purchase his farmland. He became president of the Tippecanoe County Agricultural Society in April 1851 – despite some local resentment over what was called "the Yale Crowd" – but he was defeated the same year when he ran for the Indiana House of Representatives. Ellsworth Street and Ellsworth Historic District are named for him.
The Wabash and Erie Canal in the 1840s stimulated trade and affirmed Lafayette's regional prominence. Railroads arrived in the town in the 1850s, connecting it with other major markets. The Monon Railroad connected Lafayette with other sections of Indiana.
Lafayette was the site of the first official air mail delivery in the United States on 17 August 1859, when John Wise piloted a balloon starting on the Lafayette courthouse grounds. Wise hoped to reach New York; however, weather conditions forced the balloon down near Crawfordsville, Indiana, and the mail reached its final destination by train. In 1959, the US Postal Service issued a 7¢ airmail stamp commemorating the centennial of the event.
In 1992, the Greater Lafayette area (Lafayette and West Lafayette) was the first place in Indiana to experience the internet during the initial college town connection launching.
Lafayette is located at  and is located in Fairfield and Wea Townships. Elevation at the court house is 550 feet (168 m), but city elevations range from a little over 500 feet (150 m) at the Wabash River to approximately 700 feet (210 m) in the areas of Murdock Park and Columbian Park.(40.410585, −86.874681)
According to the 2010 census, Lafayette has a total area of 27.74 square miles (71.85 km2), all land.
Climate and weather
In recent years, temperatures in Lafayette have ranged from an average low of 17 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 86 °F (30 °C) in July, although a record low of −33 °F (−36 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and again in January 1994; and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in June 1988. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.58 inches (40 mm) in February to 4.24 inches (108 mm) in June.
|Climate data for Lafayette, Indiana|
|Record high °F (°C)||69
|Average high °F (°C)||31.6
|Average low °F (°C)||14.3
|Record low °F (°C)||−33
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.91
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||6.5
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.6||7.7||10.2||10.9||10.6||10.4||8.9||8.4||7.6||8.3||9.8||10.1||112.5|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.3||3.3||1.7||0.3||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||0.9||3.5||15.1|
|Source 1: The Weather Channel (January record high)|
|Source 2: NOAA|
Lafayette is the larger principal city of the Lafayette-Frankfort CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Lafayette metropolitan area (Benton, Carroll, and Tippecanoe counties) and the Frankfort micropolitan area (Clinton County), which had a combined population of 212,408 at the 2000 United States Census.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 67,140 people, 28,545 households, and 15,863 families in the city. The population density was 2,420.3 inhabitants per square mile (934.5/km2). There were 31,260 housing units at an average density of 1,126.9 per square mile (435.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.2% White, 11.2% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1% Asian, 0.0% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.3% of the population.
There were 28,545 households, of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.4% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.00.
The median age in the city was 31.9 years. 23.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.2% were from 45 to 64; and 11.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.7% male and 51.3% female.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 56,397 people, 24,060 households, and 13,666 families in the city. The population density was 2,806.5 people per square mile (1,083.9/km2). There were 25,602 housing units at an average density of 1,274.1 per square mile (492.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.91% White; 3.22% African American; 0.37% Native American; 1.22% Asian; 0.04% Pacific Islander; 4.61% from other races, and 1.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.11% of the population.
There were 24,060 households, out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 42.5% were married couples living together; 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present; and 43.2% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 individuals and the average family size was 2.98.
The city population contained 23.2% under the age of 18; 14.2% from 18 to 24; 31.3% from 25 to 44; 19.3% from 45 to 64; and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,859, and the median income for a family was $45,480. Males had a median income of $32,892 versus $23,049 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,217. About 8.0% of families and 12.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.8% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
The government consists of a mayor – elected in a citywide vote – and a city council of nine members. Six are elected from individual districts; three are elected at-large.
K-12 public education in Lafayette is provided by the Lafayette School Corporation. The Tippecanoe School Corporation also administers county schools nearby. New Community School was a tuition-free elementary charter school (sponsored by Ball State University) located on the north side of Lafayette that permanently closed at the end of 2016. Beacon Academy is a charter school located in West Lafayette.
The Lafayette area has three branch locations of the Tippecanoe County Public Library:
- Downtown Library
- Wyandotte Branch
News and media
- Journal & Courier. The newspaper, which serves the Greater Lafayette area, has its newsroom and offices located in downtown Lafayette. Journal & Courier also has its own printing services for itself and other papers in the region on the eastside of Lafayette.
- Purdue Exponent. Purdue University's independent student newspaper serves Purdue, West Lafayette, and Lafayette, and has its newsroom and offices located off campus on Northwestern Avenue in West Lafayette.
- The Lafayette Leader
From 1953 until the 2016 launch of WPBI-LD, WLFI-TV had been the only "Big Three" (ABC, CBS and NBC—or, including Fox, "big four") commercial network television broadcaster in the Lafayette market. With the 2017 launch of WPBY-LD, local broadcasts of all "big four" networks became available.
WRTV, WTHR, WTTV, and WXIN, the respective ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates in Indianapolis which had been carried by cable and satellite providers in the Lafayette market as "out-of-market" stations, remain viewable in the area via a large over-the-air antenna or, in some cases, via a subscription satellite or streaming service. Cable provider Comcast Xfinity discontinued its remaining carriage of Indianapolis-based "big four" stations on March 7, 2018, but resumed carriage of WTHR and WRTV two days later.
Commercial Radio Stations
Non-commercial Radio Stations
No airports are located within Lafayette city limits. The nearest general aviation airport is Purdue University Airport (LAF) in West Lafayette. The nearest commercial airport which currently has scheduled airline service is Indianapolis International Airport (IND), located approximately 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Lafayette in Indianapolis.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides passenger rail service to Lafayette through the Cardinal to Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York City. Norfolk Southern; CSX; Kankakee, Beaverville and Southern Railroad; and Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway (RailAmerica) provide freight rail service. Many lines that originally passed through the downtown were redirected in the mid-1990s to a rail corridor near the Wabash River.
- CityBus local bus service by the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation
- Greyhound intercity bus service
- Lafayette Limo shuttle service to the Indianapolis International Airport and O'Hare International Airport
- Reindeer Shuttle to the Indianapolis International Airport and O'Hare International Airport
- Express Air Coach shuttle service to the O'Hare International Airport
Much of the area's economy centers around the academic and industrial activities of Purdue University, although private industry and commerce independent of the university also exist in the community, with multiple large manufacturing operations in the city employing thousands of workers. Some examples:
- Arconic, a producer of aluminum extrusions and tubes
- Caterpillar Large Engine Division, producer of large diesel and natural gas engines
- Wabash National, world's largest manufacturer of semi-truck trailers
- Subaru of Indiana Automotive, producer of Subaru vehicles
- Evonik (Tippecanoe Laboratories) pharmaceuticals/chemicals
- Tate & Lyle, manufacturer of Splenda(R) and other sweeteners; has two plants in Lafayette
- ZF Commercial Steering Systems
- Landis+Gyr, manufacturer of electric meters for global ANSI markets
- Cargill, soybean oil mill
Arts and culture
Fairs and festivals
|Source: US Census Bureau|
Notable people from Lafayette
- Axl Rose – co-founder and lead vocalist of rock band Guns N' Roses
- Izzy Stradlin – songwriter, co-founder and former rhythm guitarist of rock band Guns N' Roses
- Jeremy Camp – Christian recording artist
- Eric Carlson - lead guitarist, songwriter, founding member of The Mentors
- Embeth Davidtz – film and television actor
- Louise Fazenda – film actor whose career spanned silent and talking movies
- Charles Foley – co-inventor of the game Twister
- Mass Giorgini – musician and record producer
- Troy Hickman – writer best known for his comic book work (Common Grounds, Twilight Guardian, City of Heroes, Witchblade, Turok)
- Shannon Hoon – former lead vocalist of rock band Blind Melon
- John Korty – director, screenwriter, known for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and documentary Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?
- Claudia Lee – television actress, Hart of Dixie
- Larry McNeely – musician, banjo player with Glen Campbell and for film soundtracks
- Tammy Lynn Michaels – television actor
- Ken Navarro – smooth jazz guitarist
- Chubby Parker – country music radio personality and recording artist
- Sydney Pollack – film actor, director, and producer
- Victor Potel – silent film actor
- Julia Scheeres – author, best known for ALA Alex Award-winning memoir Jesus Land
- William Fritz Afflis known professionally as "Dick the Bruiser" – professional football player and wrestler; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
- Eric Bruntlett – professional baseball player
- Clem Crowe – professional football and basketball player
- Todd Dunwoody – professional baseball player
- Ray Ewry – 10-time Olympic champion in track and field
- Bernard "Bernie" Flowers – college and professional football player; born in Cleveland area, lived in Lafayette
- Bob Friend – professional baseball player
- Dustin Keller – professional football player; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
- Pete Halsmer – professional race car driver
- Charles Kirkpatrick – professional race car driver
- Josh Lindblom – professional baseball player
- Chukie Nwokorie – professional football player; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
- Clayton Richard – professional baseball player; graduated from McCutcheon HS
- Erik Sabel – professional baseball player
- Justin Smith – football player
- George Souders – professional race car driver (1927)
Business, law, politics
- Roger D. Branigin – Governor of Indiana 1965–1969
- John Burger – member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
- Steve Carter – Indiana Attorney General
- Henry Leavitt Ellsworth – first Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office; real estate developer
- Henry W. Ellsworth – son of Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, attorney, poet, author and Minister to Sweden
- David W. Evans – US Representative, 6th Congressional District Indiana 1975–1983
- Clara Shortridge Foltz (1849–1934) – first female lawyer on the West Coast
- Joseph García – Former Lt. Governor of Colorado
- Herman Joseph Justin – founded Justin Boot Company
- Brian Lamb – founder of C-SPAN
- Bill Long – state representative
- Frank Posegate – journalist, mayor of St. Joseph, Missouri
- John Purdue – Purdue Block, Tippecanoe County founder, founding benefactor of Purdue University
- Barbara Ringer – first female register of copyrights
- Alvah Curtis Roebuck – founded Sears, Roebuck and Company
Academic, science, technology
- Eric J. Barron – 14th President of Florida State University, 18th President of Penn State
- Herbert C. Brown – Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry
- Christopher L. Eisgruber – 20th President of Princeton University
- Daniel X. Freedman – pioneer in biological psychiatry, discovered link of hallucinogens to brain transmitters
- Andrew McCammon – physical and theoretical chemist
- Donald E. Williams – astronaut
- Ian Murdock – software engineer, created Debian
- Emily Thornton Charles, poet, journalist
- Benjaman Kyle, known for identity loss due to dissociative amnesia
Points of interest
10 minutes North of Lafayette lies Prophet Rock, where the Prophet Tenskwatawa, the half brother of Tecumseh, stood watch encouraging the local Shawnee Native Americans to fight against the encamped army forces of William Henry Harrison in the Battle Of Tippecanoe in 1811. Tenskwatawa was a spiritual leader, but not a military man. His brother was out of town as the U.S. Army forces marched North, with hopes to destroy Prophetstown. Tenskwatawa had sought to have a meeting with Harrison to discuss how to avoid going to war. In the evening before the war, he sought a spiritual vision that led him to believe that Harrison must be assassinated. Early in the morning of November 6, the warriors attacked Harrison's militia and war ensued. The warriors fell weak in supplies against the militia, and succumbed. Prophetstown was taken over where the militia stole supplies and burnt it down. The rock where Tenskwatawa stood still stands over the battlefield, though now covered with much taller trees. The rock can be accessed by scaling its front or by hiking the ridge that leads to the top.
Headstone of Martin P. Jenners
The Martin Jenners headstone is at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette. Jenners was a Civil War veteran who was known as the first white person born in Tippecanoe County and as an outspoken atheist. Originally located in Greenbush Cemetery, his headstone is unique because he had it placed in the cemetery fourteen years before his death, with this inscription: "My only objection to religion is that it is not true. No preaching, no praying, no psalm singing on this lot." Jenners' headstone cites two verses that contradict each other, hence making the Bible untrue: I Corinthians 15:52, which talks about believers being raised from the dead "in a twinkling of an eye", and Isaiah 26:14, which states "They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise." The headstone received national attention at the time, despite attempts to have it removed, and it continued to draw visitors from around the country. Jenners' headstone inscription has been cited by believers as an example of Bible writings being taken out of context.
- Judge Cyrus Ball House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- James H. Ward House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- Temple Israel, 17 South 7th St. - one of the nation's oldest surviving synagogue buildings.
- Trinity United Methodist Church (Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church until 1969) – the first church congregation in the Lafayette area. Its current building was erected in 1869 by William Heath and has remained intact to this day.
- Tippecanoe Mall - the city's main shopping center.
- Tippecanoe County Courthouse - built 1882-1884 at a cost of around $500,000 (double the original estimate).
- Neighborhoods of Lafayette
- Historic Neighborhoods
- Centennial Neighborhood District
- Downtown Lafayette Historic District
- Ellsworth Historic District
- Highland Park Neighborhood Historic District
- Jefferson Historic District
- Ninth Street Hill Neighborhood Historic District
- Perrin Historic District
- St. Mary Historic District
- Upper Main Street Historic District
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- During the period of Ellsworth's residence in Lafayette, two of his children came to national attention. His son Henry William Ellsworth was confirmed as United States chargé d'affaires at Stockholm, Sweden, in January 1846; and Ellsworth's daughter Annie suggested the words of the first telegraph message sent by her father's friend Samuel F. B. Morse in May 1844.
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