Columbus, Indiana

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Columbus, Indiana
The Robert N. Stewart Bridge (foreground), with the Bartholomew County Courthouse and First Christian Church visible in the background.
"Athens on the Prairie"
"Unexpected. Unforgettable" [1]
Bartholomew County Indiana Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Columbus Highlighted 1814734.svg
Location of Columbus in Bartholomew County, Indiana.
Coordinates: 39°12′50″N85°54′40″W / 39.21389°N 85.91111°W / 39.21389; -85.91111
CountryUnited States
State Indiana
County Bartholomew
   Mayor Jim Lienhoop
  Total28.44 sq mi (73.66 km2)
  Land28.10 sq mi (72.78 km2)
  Water0.34 sq mi (0.88 km2)
630 ft (192 m)
 (2010) [3]
(2019) [4]
  Density1,709.82/sq mi (660.18/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 812 & 930
FIPS code 18-14734 [5]
GNIS feature ID0432826 [6]
Website City of Columbus Indiana
Columbus City Hall ColumbusCityHall.jpg
Columbus City Hall

Columbus /kəˈlʌmbəs/ is a city in and the county seat of Bartholomew County, Indiana, United States. [7] The population was 44,061 at the 2010 census. The relatively small city has provided a unique place for noted Modern architecture and public art, commissioning numerous works since the mid-20th century; the annual program Exhibit Columbus celebrates this legacy. Located about 40 mi (64 km) south of Indianapolis, on the east fork of the White River, it is the state's 20th-largest city. It is the principal city of the Columbus, Indiana metropolitan statistical area, which encompasses all of Bartholomew County. Columbus is the birthplace of former Indiana Governor and former Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.


National Geographic Traveler ranked Columbus 11th on its historic destinations list in late 2008, describing the city as "authentic, unique, and unspoiled." [8] Columbus won the national contest "America in Bloom" in 2006, [9] and in 2004 it was named as one of "The Ten Most Playful Towns" by Nick Jr. Family Magazine. [10] The July 2005 edition of GQ magazine, Columbus was named as one of the "62 Reasons to Love Your Country". [11] Columbus is the headquarters of the engine company Cummins, Inc.


The land developed as Columbus was bought by General John Tipton and Luke Bonesteel in 1820. Tipton built a log cabin on Mount Tipton, a small hill overlooking White River and the surrounding flat, heavily forested and swampy valley. It held wetlands of the river. The town was first known as Tiptona, named in honor of Tipton. The town's name was changed to Columbus on March 20, 1821. Many people believe General Tipton was upset by the name change, but no evidence exists to prove this. Nonetheless, he decided to leave the newly founded town and did not return. [12] He was later appointed as the highway commissioner for the State of Indiana and was assigned to building a highway from Indianapolis, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky. When the road reached Columbus, Tipton constructed the first bypass road ever built; it detoured south around the west side of Columbus en route to Seymour.

Joseph McKinney was the first to plot the town of Columbus, but no date was recorded.

Local history books for years said that the land on which Columbus sits was donated by General Tipton. But in 2003, Historic Columbus Indiana acquired a deed showing that General Tipton sold the land.

A ferry was established below the confluence of the Flatrock and Driftwood rivers, which form the White River. A village of three or four log cabins developed around the ferry landing, and a store was added in 1821. Later that year, Bartholomew County was organized by an act of the State Legislature and named to honor the famous Hoosier militiaman, General Joseph Bartholomew. Columbus was incorporated on June 28, 1864.

The first railroad in Indiana was constructed to Columbus from Madison, Indiana in 1844. This eventually became the Madison branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The railroad fostered the growth of the community into one of the largest in Indiana, and three more railroads reached the city by 1850.

Columbus is host to the oldest theater in Indiana, The Crump Theatre, which was built in 1889 by John Crump. Today the building is included within the Columbus Historic District. Before it closed permanently in 2010, it was an all-ages venue with occasional musical performances. Columbus was host to the oldest continually operated bookstore in Indiana, Cummins Bookstore, which began operations in 1892. It closed in late 2007.

The Irwin Union Bank building was built in 1954. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 2001 in recognition of its unique architecture. The building consists of a one-story bank structure adjacent to a three-story office annex. A portion of the office annex was built along with the banking hall in 1954. The remaining larger portion, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, was built in 1973. Eero Saarinen designed the bank building with its glazed hall to be set off against the blank background of its three-story brick annex. Two steel and glass vestibule connectors lead from the north side of this structure to the annex. The building was designed to distance the Irwin Union Bank from traditional banking architecture, which mostly echoed imposing, neoclassical style buildings of brick or stone. Tellers were behind iron bars and removed from their customers. Saarinen worked to develop a building that would welcome customers rather than intimidate them.


Columbus has been home to many manufacturing companies, including Noblitt-Sparks Industries (which built radios under the Arvin brand in the 1930s) [13] and Arvin Industries, now Meritor, Inc. After merging with Meritor Automotive on July 10, 2000, the headquarters of the newly created ArvinMeritor Industries was established in Troy, Michigan, the home of parent company, Rockwell International. It was announced in February 2011 that the company name would revert to Meritor, Inc. [14] Cummins, Inc. is by far the region's largest employer, and the Infotech Park [15] accounts for a sizable number of research jobs in Columbus proper. Just south of Columbus are the North American headquarters of Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc., the world's largest material handling (forklift) manufacturer. Other notable industries include architecture, a discipline for which Columbus is famous worldwide. The late J. Irwin Miller (then president and chairman of Cummins Engine Company) launched the Cummins Foundation, a charitable program that helps subsidize a large number of architectural projects throughout the city by up-and-coming engineers and architects.

Early in the 20th century, Columbus also was home to a number of pioneering car manufacturers, including Reeves, which produced the unusual four-axle Octoauto and the twin rear-axle Sextoauto, both around 1911. [16]

In addition to the Columbus Historic District and Irwin Union Bank, the city has numerous buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including seven National Historic Landmarks of modernist architecture: Bartholomew County Courthouse, Columbus City Hall, First Baptist Church, First Christian Church, Haw Creek Leather Company, Mabel McDowell Elementary School, McEwen-Samuels-Marr House, McKinley School, Miller House, North Christian Church, and The Republic Newspaper Office. [17] [18]


Columbus is located at 39°12′50″N85°54′40″W / 39.21389°N 85.91111°W / 39.21389; -85.91111 (39.213998, −85.911056). [19] The Driftwood and Flatrock Rivers converge at Columbus to form the East Fork of the White River.

According to the 2010 census, Columbus has a total area of 27.886 square miles (72.22 km2), of which 27.5 square miles (71.22 km2) (or 98.62%) is land and 0.386 square miles (1.00 km2) (or 1.38%) is water. [20]


Historical population
1850 1,008
1860 1,84082.5%
1870 3,35982.6%
1880 4,81343.3%
1890 6,71939.6%
1900 8,13021.0%
1910 8,8138.4%
1920 8,9902.0%
1930 9,93510.5%
1940 11,73818.1%
1950 18,37056.5%
1960 20,77813.1%
1970 26,45727.3%
1980 30,61415.7%
1990 31,8023.9%
2000 39,05922.8%
2010 44,06112.8%
2019 (est.)48,046 [4] 9.0%
Source: US Census Bureau

2010 census

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 44,061 people, 17,787 households, and 11,506 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,602.2 inhabitants per square mile (618.6/km2). There were 19,700 housing units at an average density of 716.4 per square mile (276.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.9% White, 2.7% African American, 0.2% Native American, 5.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.5% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.8% of the population.

There were 17,787 households, of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.3% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.00.

The median age in the city was 37.1 years. 25.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.3% were from 25 to 44; 24.9% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census

As of the census [5] of 2000, there were 39,059 people, 15,985 households, and 10,566 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,505.3 people per square mile (581.1/km2). There were 17,162 housing units at an average density of 661.4 per square mile (255.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.32% White, 2.71% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 3.23% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.39% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. 2.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,985 households, out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.9% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were composed of individuals, and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.7% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24 years, 29.5% from 25 to 44 years, 23.0% from 45 to 64 years, and 13.7% over the age of 65. The median age was 36 years. There were 92.8 males for every 100 females and 89.6 males for every 100 females over age 18.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,723, and the median income for a family was $52,296. Males had a median income of $40,367 versus $24,446 for females, and the per capita income was $22,055. About 6.5% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Henry Moore's Large Arch. LargeArch.jpg
Henry Moore's Large Arch .

Columbus is a city known for its modern architecture and public art. J. Irwin Miller, 2nd CEO and a nephew of a co-founder of Cummins Inc., the Columbus-headquartered diesel engine manufacturer, instituted a program in which the Cummins Foundation paid the architects' fees, provided the client selected a firm from a list compiled by the foundation. The plan was initiated with public schools and was so successful that the foundation decided to offer such design support to other non-profit and civic organizations. The high number of notable public buildings and public art in the Columbus area, designed by such individuals as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli, and Richard Meier, led to Columbus earning the nickname "Athens on the Prairie." [21]

Seven buildings, constructed between 1942 and 1965, are National Historic Landmarks, and approximately 60 other buildings sustain the Bartholomew County seat's reputation as a showcase of modern architecture. [22] National Public Radio once devoted an article to the town's architecture. [23]

In 2015, Landmark Columbus was created as a program of Heritage Fund - The Community Foundation of Bartholomew county.

National Historic Landmarks

Other notable Modern buildings

Notable historic buildings

Public art

Exhibit Columbus

In May 2016, Landmark Columbus launched Exhibit Columbus as a way to continue the ambitious traditions of the past into the future. Exhibit Columbus features annual programming that alternates between symposium and exhibition years. [31]


Columbus High School was home to footwear pioneer Chuck Taylor, who played basketball in Columbus before setting out to promote his now famous shoes and the sport of basketball before being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Two local high schools compete within the state in various sports. Columbus North and Columbus East both have competitive athletics and have many notable athletes that go on to compete in college and beyond. Columbus North High School houses one of the largest high school gyms in the United States. CNHS vs CEHS

Indiana Diesels of the Premier Basketball League play their home games at the gymnasium at Ceraland Park, with plans to move to a proposed downtown sports complex in the near future. [32] Columbus also boasts a roller derby league, the Terrorz of Tiny Towns. Established in 2010, this league hosts weekly practices at Columbus Skateland. [33] The town also has two cricket teams, both which play under the name of Columbus Indiana Cricket Club; their home ground is at Ceraland Park.

Parks and recreation

Columbus boasts over 700 acres (280 ha) of parks and green space and over 20 miles of People Trails. These amenities, in addition to several athletic and community facilities, including Donner Aquatic Center, Lincoln Park Softball Complex, Hamilton Center Ice Arena, Clifty Park, Foundation for Youth/Columbus Gymnastics Center and The Commons, are managed and maintained by the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department.


Roads and highways

The north-south US Route 31 has been diverted to the northeastern part of the city. Interstate 65 bypasses Columbus to the west. Indiana Route 46 runs-east-west through the southern section of the city.


Freight rail service is provided by the Louisville and Indiana Railroad (LIRC). [34] The LIRC line runs in a north-south orientation along the western edge of Columbus.

The Pennsylvania Railroad's Kentuckyian (Chicago-Louisville) made stops in the city until 1968. [35] [36] The PRR and its successor, the Penn Central, ran the Florida-bound South Wind up to 1971. [37]


Columbus is served by the Columbus Municipal Airport (KBAK). It is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Columbus. The airport handles approximately 40,500 operations per year, with roughly 87% general aviation, 4% air taxi, 8% military and <1% commercial service. The airport has two concrete runways; a 6,401 foot runway with approved ILS and GPS approaches (Runway 5-23) and a 5,001 foot crosswind runway, also with GPS approaches, (Runway 14-32). [38]

The nearest commercial airport which currently has scheduled airline service is Indianapolis International Airport (IND), located approximately 55 miles (89 km) northwest of Columbus. Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport are 78 miles (126 km) to the south and 83 miles (134 km) to the southeast, respectively.

Notable people

This is a list of notable people who were born in, or who currently live, or have lived in Columbus.


The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) is the local school district. High schools include:

Columbus has a public library, a branch of the Bartholomew County Public Library. [40]

Secondary education includes Indiana University – Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), an Ivy Tech campus, Purdue Polytechnic and an Indiana Wesleyan University education center.

See also

Related Research Articles

Eero Saarinen Finnish-American architect

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect and industrial designer noted for his wide-ranging array of designs for buildings and monuments. Saarinen is best known for designing the Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the son of noted Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

Kevin Roche Irish-born American architect

Eamonn Kevin Roche was an Irish-born American Pritzker Prize-winning architect. He has been responsible for the design/master planning for over 200 built projects in both the U.S. and abroad. These projects include eight museums, 38 corporate headquarters, seven research facilities, performing arts centers, theaters, and campus buildings for six universities. In 1967 he created the master plan for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and henceforth designed all of the new wings and installation of many collections including the recently reopened American and Islamic wings.

Bartholomew County, Indiana U.S. county in Indiana

Bartholomew County is a county located in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2018, the population was 82,753. The county seat is Columbus. The county was determined by the U.S. Census Bureau to be home to the mean center of U.S. population in 1900.

Hope, Indiana Town in Indiana, United States

Hope is a town in Haw Creek Township, Bartholomew County, Indiana, United States, known for its historic character. The population was 2,102 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Columbus, Indiana, metropolitan statistical area.

Tipton, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Tipton is a city in and the county seat of Tipton County, Indiana, United States. The population was 5,106 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Kokomo, Indiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was named after John Tipton, a politician.

Cranbrook Educational Community United States historic place

The Cranbrook Educational Community is an education, research, and public museum complex in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This National Historic Landmark was founded in the early 20th century by newspaper mogul George Gough Booth. It consists of Cranbrook Schools, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Cranbrook House and Gardens. The founders also built Christ Church Cranbrook as a focal point in order to serve the educational complex. However, the church is a separate entity under the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. The sprawling 319-acre (1,290,000 m2) campus began as a 174-acre (700,000 m2) farm, purchased in 1904. The organization takes its name from Cranbrook, England, the birthplace of the founder's father.

North Christian Church Eero Saarinen-designed church in Columbus, Indiana

The North Christian Church is a church in Columbus, Indiana. Founded in 1955, it is part of the Christian Church. The church building of 1964 was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen (1910–1961) and completed in 1964. Saarinen's father Eliel Saarinen had designed the First Christian Church in Columbus.

First Christian Church (Columbus, Indiana) United States historic place

The First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, was built in 1942. It was the first contemporary building in Columbus and one of the first churches in the United States to be built in a contemporary architectural style.

Irwin Conference Center United States historic place

The Irwin Conference Center was designed by Eero Saarinen and built in 1954 in Columbus, Indiana. It is currently owned and operated by Cummins, whose world headquarters is located across Jackson Street in the Cummins Corporate Office Building. In recognition of its unique and beautiful design, the resource was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 2001.

J. Irwin Miller American businessman

Joseph Irwin Miller was an American industrialist, patron of modern architecture, and lay leader in the Christian ecumenical movement and civil rights. He was instrumental in the rise of the Cummins Corporation and giving his hometown of Columbus, Indiana international stature with its modern architecture buildings.

Christ Church Lutheran (Minneapolis, Minnesota) United States historic place

Christ Church Lutheran is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Minneapolis. Its buildings—a sanctuary with chapel (1949) and an education wing (1962) designed by Finnish-American architects Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen—have been internationally recognized, most recently in 2009 as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S Department of the Interior.

Miller House (Columbus, Indiana) United States historic place

The Miller House and Garden, also known as Miller House, is a mid-century modern home designed by Eero Saarinen and located in Columbus, Indiana, United States. The residence, commissioned by American industrialist, philanthropist, and architecture patron J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller in 1953, is now owned by Newfields. Miller supported modern architecture in the construction of a number of buildings throughout Columbus, Indiana. Design and construction on the Miller House took four years and was completed in 1957. The home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000. The Miller family owned the home until 2008, when Xenia Miller, the last resident of the home, died.

Cummins Corporate Office Building

The Cummins Corporate Office Building in Columbus, Indiana is a modernist office building designed by Kevin Roche. Constructed in 1983, the building serves as the corporate headquarters of the Cummins engine company. It was constructed on an old railroad yard and is unique for being built around the Cerealine Building, which was Cummins' first factory building.

<i>The Republic</i> (Columbus, Indiana) American daily newspaper

The Republic is an American daily newspaper published in Columbus, Indiana. It is owned by AIM Media Indiana, a subsidiary of AIM Media.

Cleo Rogers Memorial Library

The Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, also known as the Main Library, is the flagship library of the Bartholomew County Public Library system. It includes a branch in Hope, Indiana, and a bookmobile that serves the county. The building was designed by I. M. Pei & Partners and constructed by Dunlap & Company, completed in 1969, and dedicated in 1971. It is notable for its design of red brick with concrete details and its Library Plaza, an urban space punctuated by the sculpture, "Large Arch" by Henry Moore. It is named for Cleo Rogers (1905-1964) who was the county librarian for 28 years and assistant librarian for nine years.

<i>Large Arch</i>

Large Arch is an outdoor sculpture by British sculptor Henry Moore. It was installed in 1971 and is located in the outdoor plaza of the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in Columbus, Indiana. Xenia and J. Irwin Miller commissioned the sculpture and gave it to the library. The sculpture is nearly 20 feet tall and is made of sandcast bronze that has been patinated.

Columbus Historic District (Columbus, Indiana) United States historic place

Columbus Historic District is a national historic district located at Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana. It encompasses 574 contributing buildings and 1 contributing sites in the central business district and surrounding residential areas of Columbus. It was developed between about 1850 and 1930, and includes notable examples of Federal and Italianate style architecture. A number of commercial buildings feature locally manufactured cast iron and pressed metal components. Located in the district are the separately listed Bartholomew County Courthouse, Columbus City Hall, and First Christian Church. Other notable buildings include the First National Bank, The Crump Theatre (1889), Reo Theater, Ulrich Bakery, Samuel Harris House (1853), Keller House (1860), Old Post Office (1910), Franklin Building, Gent Mill, First United Presbyterian Church (1871-1885), Irwin Block, Irwin Home and Gardens, and St. Batholomew's Roman Catholic Church (1891).

Landmark Columbus is the progressive preservation program arm of Landmark Columbus Foundation that is dedicated to caring for and celebrating the world-renowned cultural heritage of Columbus, Indiana.

Exhibit Columbus Annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community in Columbus, Indiana

Exhibit Columbus is a program of Landmark Columbus Foundation, and an exploration of architecture, art, design, and community that activates the design legacy of Columbus, Indiana. It creates a cycle of programming that uses this context to convene conversations around innovative ideas and commissions site-responsive installations in a free, public exhibition. It features the internationally sought after J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize.


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Further reading

Coordinates: 39°12′50″N85°54′40″W / 39.213998°N 85.911056°W / 39.213998; -85.911056