Valparaiso, Indiana

Last updated
City of Valparaiso, Indiana
Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso.jpg
Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso
Flag of Valparaiso, Indiana.png
Seal of Valparaiso, Indiana.png
"Vale of Paradise"
Porter County Indiana Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Valparaiso Highlighted 1878326.svg
Location of Valparaiso in Porter County, Indiana.
Coordinates: 41°28′34″N87°3′25″W / 41.47611°N 87.05694°W / 41.47611; -87.05694 Coordinates: 41°28′34″N87°3′25″W / 41.47611°N 87.05694°W / 41.47611; -87.05694
CountryUnited States
State Indiana
County Porter
Township Center
IncorporatedJuly 8, 1836
Named for Valparaiso, Chile
   Mayor Matt Murphy (R)
  Total16.36 sq mi (42.38 km2)
  Land16.32 sq mi (42.26 km2)
  Water0.05 sq mi (0.12 km2)  0.32%
794 ft (242 m)
 (2010) [2]
(2019) [3]
  Density2,077.53/sq mi (802.12/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 219
FIPS code 18-78326 [4]
GNIS feature ID 449849 [5]

Valparaiso ( /ˌvɑːlpəˈrz/ vahl-pə-RAY-zoh), colloquially Valpo, is a city and the county seat of Porter County, Indiana, United States. [6] The population was 31,730 at the 2010 census.



The site of present-day Valparaiso was included in the purchase of land from the Potawatomi people by the U.S. Government in October 1832. Chiqua's town or Chipuaw [7] was located a mile east of the current Courthouse along the Sauk Trail. Chiqua's town existed from or before 1830 until after 1832. [8] The location is just north of the railroad crossing on State Route 2 and County Road 400 North.

Located on the ancient Native American trail from Rock Island to Detroit, the town had its first log cabin in 1834. [9] Established in 1836 as Portersville, county seat of Porter County, it was renamed to Valparaiso (meaning "Vale of Paradise" in Old Spanish) in 1837 after Valparaíso, Chile, near which the county's namesake David Porter battled in the Battle of Valparaiso during the War of 1812. [10] The city was once called the "City of Churches" due to the large number of churches located there at the end of the 19th Century. Valparaiso Male and Female College, one of the earliest higher education institutions admitting both men and women in the country, was founded in Valparaiso in 1859, but closed its doors in 1871 before reopening in 1873 as the Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute. In the early 20th century, it became Valparaiso College, then Valparaiso University. It was initially affiliated with the Methodist Church but after 1925 with the Lutheran University Association (which has relationships both with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and expanded significantly after World War II.

From the 1890s until 1969, there were no African-American residents in Valparaiso. This has been attributed to Valparaiso being a sundown town. [11] [12] There was also substantial activity by the Ku Klux Klan, which negotiated to purchase Valparaiso University in 1923. [13] The first African-American family to move to Valparaiso faced intimidation and eventually left the city when a visiting relative was murdered. [11] [14] In recent years, the city's racial composition has diversified.

Valparaiso also has a long history of being a transportation hub for the region. In 1858, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad reached Valparaiso, connecting the city directly to Chicago. By 1910, an interurban railway connected the city to Gary, Indiana. Today, while the city no longer has a passenger train station, it is still very much a part of the "Crossroads of America" due to its proximity to I-65, I-80, I-90, and I-94. Additionally, the Canadian National railroad still runs freight on the tracks, including through the downtown area.

Until 1991, Valparaiso was the terminal of Amtrak's Calumet commuter service.


The city is situated at the junctions of U.S. Route 30, State Road 2, and State Road 49.

According to the 2010 census, Valparaiso has a total area of 15.578 square miles (40.35 km2), of which 15.53 square miles (40.22 km2) (or 99.69%) is land and 0.048 square miles (0.12 km2) (or 0.31%) is water. [15]


The city is situated on the Valparaiso Moraine.

Glaciation has left numerous features on the landscape here. Kettle lakes and knobs make up much of this hilly area of Northwest Indiana. The Pines Ski Area is the only remaining kame in the city; the other one is under the university's Chapel of the Resurrection, however, grading of land in that area makes that particular kame almost nonexistent. Many glacial erratics can be found throughout the city. The moraine has left the city with mostly clay soil.


Climate data for Valparaiso, Porter County Regional Airport, Indiana (1981-2010 normals)
Record high °F (°C)66
Average high °F (°C)31.1
Average low °F (°C)16.1
Record low °F (°C)−26
Average rainfall inches (mm)1.75
Average snowfall inches (cm)8.8
Source 1: NOAA 1981-2010 normals, snowfall 1971-2000 [16]
Source 2: The Weather Channel (records), [17]


Historical population
1850 522
1860 1,698225.3%
1870 2,76562.8%
1880 4,46161.3%
1890 5,09014.1%
1900 6,28023.4%
1910 6,98711.3%
1920 6,518−6.7%
1930 8,07923.9%
1940 8,7368.1%
1950 12,02837.7%
1960 15,22726.6%
1970 20,02031.5%
1980 22,24711.1%
1990 24,4149.7%
2000 27,42812.3%
2010 31,73015.7%
2019 (est.)33,897 [3] 6.8%
Source: US Census Bureau

2010 census

As of the census [2] of 2010, there were 31,730 people, 12,610 households, and 7,117 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,043.1 inhabitants per square mile (788.8/km2). There were 13,506 housing units at an average density of 869.7 per square mile (335.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.9% White, 3.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.2% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.1% of the population.

There were 12,610 households, of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.6% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 33.4 years. 21.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 15.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.8% were from 45 to 64; and 13.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.

2000 census

As of the census [4] of 2000, there were 27,428 people, 10,867 households, and 6,368 families residing in the city. The population density was 971.6/km2 (2,515.4/mi2). There were 11,559 housing units at an average density of 409.4/km2 (1,060.1/mi2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.35% White, 1.60% African American, 0.23% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 1.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.34% of the population.

There were 10,867 households, out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.9% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.2% under the age of 18, 17.4% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,799, and the median income for a family was $60,637. Males had a median income of $46,452 versus $26,544 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,509. About 4.8% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.1% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.


Valparaiso has an elected mayor and an elected council. The mayor is elected for a four-year term in November of the year before a presidential election year and assumes office on January 1. [18]


Higher education

Valparaiso is also home to namesake Valparaiso University, occupying 310 acres (130 ha) on the south side of the city near downtown. The university is also a cultural center of the city, hosting venues such as the Brauer Museum of Art, home to more than 2,700 pieces of 19th- and 20th century American art.

The official history of Valparaiso University was written by Richard Baepler. His Flame of Faith, Lamp of Learning details the history of the university from its Methodist roots in 1859 to its reputation as a Lutheran University (1925). The intellectual story of Valparaiso University in the post-war years might be best summarized by John Strietelmeier who wrote that what united the VU thinkers of this period was "the dream that somewhere there might be a place where high faith and high intellect might meet to provide an apostate age with a new vision and a new hope." Streietelmeier was a Professor in Geography and an Editor of the University's "The Cresset." His writings represent a critical set of impressions from the 1950s and 1960s at VU and are collected by Baepler in his Witness to His Generation: Selected Writings of John Strietelmeier along with a significant biography of Strietelmeier's life and intellectual context.

In addition to VU, Ivy Tech operates one of its 23 regional campuses in the city. From 2006 until 2016, Purdue University North Central had a two-building satellite campus in Valparaiso. [19]

Primary and secondary education

Public library

Valparaiso has a public library, a branch of the Porter County Public Library System. [22]


Live theater


Local media


Valparaiso is served by two regional newspapers:


North Valpo Neighbors and South Valpo Neighbors are published in Valparaiso.


The primary local radio stations are WLJE 105.5 FM "Indiana 105", which broadcasts country music, WAKE 1500 AM, which plays adult standards, and WVLP 98.3 FM "ValpoRadio", a non-profit, low power FM community radio station. Valparaiso formerly had a fourth local station, WNWI 1080 AM, which relocated to Oak Lawn, Illinois in 1998 and is now a Chicago-market station. Radio is usually from the Chicago market.

Parks and recreation

Valparaiso has an extensive city park district. In 2005 there were 13 parks with another in the planning stages. [29]


Fairground Park and the walking circuit Valparaiso Indiana Fairground Park 37.jpg
Fairground Park and the walking circuit

200 East (East McCord Rd) – a community park with a playground; where many of the city's legendary athletes played football as youngsters. Football at 200 East Park is a staple for young kids growing up in the neighborhood.

Bicentennial Park (Burlington Beach Road & Campbell St) – Provides a full range of activities, including a playground, basketball courts, ball diamond and picnic shelters. A prairie restoration is under way in the north half of the park.
Central Park Plaza (Lincolnway and Lafayette St) – is the centerpiece of the Downtown Valparaiso revitalization and opened the summer of 2011. It has an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other special events as well as a splash pad in the center of the park for kids to play.
Fairgrounds Park (Calumet & Evans Avenues) – Has the largest complex of ball diamonds and soccer fields in the city. A playground and basketball court are available. Numerous city sports leagues use Fairgrounds Park for their games and tournaments. The park is surrounded by a paved walking circuit that is well occupied on nice days.
Foundation Meadows (Campbell Street & Bullseye Lake Rd) – One of the city's newer parks.
Glenrose South (1500 Roosevelt Road) – Provides several ball diamonds and when school is out, Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools track is available for those interested in walking. Glenrose South has been the home of the Valparaiso Fourth of July Fireworks display and celebration since 2005.
Jessee-Pifer Park (Elmhurst & Madison Streets) – a community park with a basketball court and picnic shelter.
Kirchhoff Miller Woods, (Roosevelt Road & Institute St – a community park that provides for basketball, baseball, tennis, picnicking and a playground.

Valplayso Valparaiso Indiana Valplayso Glenrose North 07.jpg

Ogden Gardens/Forest Park (Campbell Street and Harrison Blvd) – Ogden Gardens is the home of the city's botanical garden. The Campbell Street end is a formal garden with a variety of planting that bloom throughout the year. The Gazebo is a favorite place for weddings, wedding pictures and high school prom pictures. A Japanese garden is included with a 22,000-gallon Koi pond. Forest Park is to the west with an open grassy picnic area below a wooded picnic area with a shelter.

Rogers-Lakewood Park (Meridian Road (N Campbell Street)) – Provide opportunities for swimming, fishing, and hiking trails. It is connected to the north side communities of Valparaiso by the Campbell Street Bike Trail (hiking and biking).
Tower Park (Evans Ave and Franklin St.) is a community park that offers basketball, baseball, tennis, picnicking and a playground. During winter months, one of the basketball courts is turned into the community skating rink.
Valplayso/Glenrose North (Glendale Blvd and Roosevelt Rd) is the home of Valplayso, a community-designed and community-built playground. At the other end of the parking lot are several ball fields. Separated from Glenrose South by only the Middle Schools track, Glenrose North hosts over half of the community during the Fourth of July Celebration.
West Side Park (Joliet Rd) is a community park with a ball field and a playground.
Will Park (Morgan Blvd and Brown St) is a community park with a basketball court, playground, and picnic shelter.


Bike trails Valparaiso is building a series of bike trails across the city. Currently, (March 2012) most of the identified bike routes are part of the county's system of recommended roads and streets. [30]

Bikeways (and hikeways), separated from traffic:
Campbell Street Bikeway runs from Rogers-Lakewood Park south 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to Vale Park Road (CR 400 N). It continues south on the opposite side of Campbell St. base Valparaiso High School, ending 2 miles (3.2 km) south at Ogden Gardens (Harrison Blvd).

At Vale Park, it connects to the Vale Park trail to Valparaiso Street 1 mile (1.6 km). A new bike loop 3 miles (4.8 km) is being built that circles north along Valparaiso Street to Bullseye Lake Rd, east to Cumberland Crossing (not open to the public (2008), south to Vale Park, turning west to on Vale Park to return to the corner of Vale Park and Valparaiso Street.

At Glendale, the Campbell Street Bikeway connects to the Glendale cross town bike lane. These travel east 2 miles (3.2 km) on Glendale, ending on North Calumet at the Walgreens corner.

City fairs

The Popcorn Festival Valpo 08 Popcorn.jpg
The Popcorn Festival

The city holds two major festivals every year: the Popcorn Festival and the Porter County Fair. The Popcorn Festival is held on the first Saturday after Labor Day. It honors Orville Redenbacher, a former resident who built a popcorn factory there. Redenbacher participated in most of the festival's parades until his death in 1995. The festival also features foot racing events and multiple concerts in addition to typical fair activities. The Porter County Fair consists of carnival attractions and hosts a variety of shows such as a demolition derby, motocross races, and live musical performances.


Valparaiso gets all of its water from wells that draw water from depths between 90 and 120 feet (37 m). The supply is treated with chlorine solution to remove the iron. [31] Valparaiso also has three sewer retention basins.

Valparaiso's energy is provided by NIPSCO. The Schaeffer Power Plant is located south of Valparaiso, in Wheatfield. [32]

On October 1, 2007, Valparaiso inaugurated a city bus service, the V-Line. It operates between downtown, the university, shopping centers and the city's northern neighborhoods. It also offers an express service to the Dune Park station of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District Friday through Sunday (Friday through Saturday during Valparaiso University's spring, summer and winter breaks), timed to meet certain trains. V-Line does not operate on holidays.

On October 6, 2008, Valparaiso inaugurated an express bus service to and from Chicago, Illinois called ChicaGo DASH. Buses depart Valparaiso on weekday mornings and return from Chicago in the evenings.

Valparaiso is served by four highways. U.S. Route 30 is the major east-west artery on the southern side of the city. Indiana State Road 49, the major north-south artery, connects with Chesterton, Indiana and the Indiana Toll Road. Indiana Route 130 runs northwest to Hobart, Indiana. Indiana State Road 2, which connects South Bend and Lowell, passes through the southeast corner of the city. [33]

Three railroads pass through the city. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates on the tracks that were previously the Nickel Plate Road, the Canadian National is the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad and the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad operates on the tracks that were previously used by the Pennsylvania Railroad. [34]

Historic buildings and districts

National Register of Historic Places

There are a number of buildings and districts in the city listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

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  3. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. 1 2 "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2008-01-31.
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  7. One of the earliest Authentic histories of Porter County, Indiana, From 1832 to 1876; Deborah H. Shults-Gay; ca 1917
  8. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; Helen Hornbeck Tanner; University of Oklahoma Press; Norman, Oklahoma, 1987; map 25
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  11. 1 2 Mitchell, David (June 30, 2003). "A struggled balance of hope and fear". The Times of Northwest Indiana . Retrieved July 12, 2021. <More than 30 years ago, Barbara Frazier-Cotton, a single, black mother raising her six children in Chicago's public housing projects, brought her family to Valparaiso where they became the first to breach the city's color barrier.> <The house butted against a thick wooded area at the end of a short, curved drive. Officials refused to hook up municipal water, even though they lived within city limits. The family relied on well water. Thinking back, Walt Reiner to this day says he wouldn't wish on an enemy what Frazier-Cotton went through that first year in Valparaiso. On occasion, Frazier-Cotton also wonders aloud why she didn't just pack up and leave. More moments than she'd like to remember forced her to question whether she made the right decision. The phone rang often in the middle of the night. "Go home," the voice on the other end would say. "You don't belong here." Strange cars rolled down the driveway late at night. "I was afraid to call the police," she says. "They said earlier they wouldn't come." One summer night, she awoke, sat up in bed and looked straight at a man staring at her through an open window. The windows remained closed for a long time after that. People gawked at her in stores or on the street. A stranger once handed her a business card that read, "Keep Valparaiso Clean" on one side and "KKK" on the other. Crosses were burned on her lawn."> <For the most part, the schools and churches stood strong and supportive. Some Valparaiso educators even took the opportunity to have Frazier-Cotton speak to their students, offering them exposure to an otherwise inaccessible perspective on cultural diversity. Many Valparaiso University students befriended the family, regardless of race. Others in the city also accepted Frazier-Cotton into the community. Still, her children's names would often be the first mentioned when something turned up missing or vandalized.>line feed character in |quote= at position 233 (help)
  12. Loewen, James W. (2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: New Press. pp. 67, 199, 200, 413. ISBN   0743294483. I identified a total of 231 Indiana towns as all-white. I was able to get information as to the racial policies of 95, and of those, I confirmed all 95 as sundown towns. In Indiana, I have yet to uncover any overwhelmingly white town that on-site research failed to confirm as a sundown town. Ninety-five out of 95 is an astounding proportion; statistical analysis shows that it is quite likely that 90 to 100% of all 231 were sundown towns. They ranged from tiny hamlets to cities in the 10,000-50,000 population range, including Huntington (former vice president Dan Quayle's hometown) and Valparaiso (home of Valparaiso University).
  13. Taylor, Stephen J. (2016-01-06). "Ku Klux U: How the Klan Almost Bought a University". Hoosier State Chronicles: Indiana's Digital Newspaper Program. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  14. Mitchell, David (June 30, 2003). "A struggled balance of hope and fear -- continued". The Times of Northwest Indiana . Retrieved July 12, 2021. <When her stepson showed up at her front door, the previous winter's tragic events at the university were quickly becoming a distant memory. Horace Smith Jr. arrived unannounced at her Cedar Lane house in early August of 1980, looking for a little space and time to straighten some things out. [...] His decision to come to Valparaiso proved costly. In the early morning hours of Aug. 22, 1980, two brothers on their way to go squirrel hunting found Smith dying in a ditch along U.S. 30, just west of Ind. 51. "He was unable to talk and was gasping for air. They tried to get him to state what happened, but he was incoherent," said First Sgt. Glen Edmondson of the Indiana State Police, who reviewed the file years later. Trooper Richard Bonesteel arrived just before 4 a.m. Smith was dead. Because Smith was black, officers assumed he was from Lake County and notified Gary police first. The initial report said Smith was either pushed from a moving vehicle or struck by a car while walking along the side of the road. The Lake County Coroner's office ruled out suicide, but listed the cause of death as undetermined. The case remains unsolved, a dense file in the state police's Cold Case division. Many specifics about the case are restricted because it technically is still under investigation. And family members are still reluctant to rehash details. Smith's body had cuts and bruises, but the only bone fracture was to the lower, rear portion of his skull, indicating someone probably hit him in the back of the head. Smith had no other broken bones, making it difficult to imagine he was hit by a car.> <Edmondson, filtering through decades old documents, says there were indications race played a role. "I think there's some of those issues that go on in these arguments because some of the people it makes mention of are black and some are white," Edmondson says.> <Betty Ballard, Frazier-Cotton's long-time friend, says Frazier-Cotton came to her house shortly after Smith's death, frightened because she had received a phone call from someone who may have had a hand in her stepson's death. "They called her and told her they were going to kill her," Ballard says. "She called me and told me, 'Betty, we've got to leave. They're going to kill us all.' " The day after Frazier-Cotton identified her stepson for police, the Vidette-Messenger, the local newspaper, ran two related front page stories. A small item explained how police had identified Horace Smith, a relative of Valparaiso's first black family, as the youth found dead along U.S. 30 days earlier. The main story described a cross burning on the lawn outside of the newspaper office. Two Ku Klux Klan business cards at the base of the cross read, "Racial purity is America's security." "The Klan is watching you" stickers were pasted on a van and a car in the building's parking lot. Ultimately, Smith's death proved to be Frazier-Cotton's breaking point. It was time to leave.>line feed character in |quote= at position 141 (help)
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