Lafayette, Indiana

Lafayette, Indiana
City of Lafayette

Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza & CityBus depot in August 2011.

Nickname(s): "Star City"
Coordinates: 40°25′2″N 86°52′43″W / 40.41722°N 86.87861°W / 40.41722; -86.87861Coordinates: 40°25′2″N 86°52′43″W / 40.41722°N 86.87861°W / 40.41722; -86.87861
Country United States of America
State Indiana
County Tippecanoe
Townships Fairfield, Perry, Sheffield, Wea
Platted 1825
Incorporated 1853
Founded by William Digby
Named for General Lafayette
  Mayor Tony Roswarski (D)
  City 27.74 sq mi (71.85 km2)
  Land 27.74 sq mi (71.85 km2)
  Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
  Metro 904.6 sq mi (2,343 km2)
Elevation[2] 692 ft (211 m)
Population (2010)[3]
  City 67,140
  Estimate (2014[4]) 70,654
  Density 2,420.3/sq mi (934.5/km2)
  Metro 201,789
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 47901, 47904, 47905, 47909
Area code(s) 765
Sister cities
Interstate Highways I-65
U.S. Highways
Major State Roads
Waterways Wabash River
Airports Purdue University Airport
(West Lafayette)
Public transit CityBus
FIPS code 18-40788[6]
GNIS feature ID 437501

Lafayette (/ˌlɑːfˈɛt/ or lah-fee-YET) is a city in and the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States,[7][8] 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, roughly a 19% increase from 56,397 in 2000. Meanwhile, the 2010 U.S. Census pegged the year-round (excluding Purdue University students) population of West Lafayette at 29,596 and a Tippecanoe County population of 172,780.[9]


General Lafayette, 1792
This panoramic map illustrates a bird's-eye view of Lafayette, Indiana, in 1868.
Wabash River, looking North. View from the John T. Meyers pedestrian bridge, which links the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette

When European explorers arrived at the area around what is now Tippecanoe County, 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 takes place there each autumn.[10]

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 in and around Lafayette and moved there from Connecticut to supervise land sales.[11] By 1847 Ellsworth was distributing broadsides looking for farmers to purchase his farmland.[12] 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.[13] Ellsworth Street and Ellsworth Historic District are named for the early real estate developer.[14]

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, which took place on August 17, 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 U.S. Postal Service issued a 7¢ airmail stamp commemorating the centennial of the event.[15]


Lafayette is located at 40°24′38″N 86°52′29″W / 40.410585°N 86.874681°W / 40.410585; -86.874681 (40.410585, -86.874681)[16] and lies 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.

According to the 2010 census, Lafayette has a total area of 27.74 square miles (71.85 km2), all land.[1]

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.[17]

Climate data for Lafayette, Indiana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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)[18]
Source #2: NOAA[19]


Location of the Lafayette-Frankfort CSA and its components:
  Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Frankfort Micropolitan Statistical Area
Broadside advertising sale of 200-acre farms, Lafayette, Indiana, 1847

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),[20][21][22] which had a combined population of 212,408 at the 2000 census.[6]

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 67,140 people, 28,545 households, and 15,863 families residing 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, 1.4% Asian, 5.8% 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.

2000 census

View of Lafayette from Main St bridge.

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 56,397 people, 24,060 households, and 13,666 families residing 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.

In the city the population was spread out with 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 which consists of nine members of whom six are elected from individual districts. Three members are elected at-large.

Tippecanoe County Courthouse




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 is a tuition-free elementary charter school (sponsored by Ball State University) located on the north side of Lafayette. Beacon Academy is a charter school located in West Lafayette.


News and media



Commercial Radio Stations

Non-commercial Radio Stations


Sagamore Parkway (as seen from West Lafayette)
Railway station.



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 of the rail lines that originally passed through the downtown were redirected in the mid-1990s to a rail corridor near the Wabash River.[23][24]


Bus Service


Much of the economy of the city of Lafayette and the surrounding area is centered around the academic and industrial activities of Purdue University. The university and its associated businesses employ the largest portion of the Lafayette workforce. However, private industry and commerce independent of the university also exist in the community. Some notable examples include:

Arts and culture

Main St.

Arts organizations

Fairs and festivals

Notable people

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201571,111[26]5.9%
Source: US Census Bureau

For notable residents associated with Purdue University, see List of Purdue University people.



Business, law, politics

Academic, science, technology

Points of interest

Clegg Botanical Garden.
Purdue University.

Prophet's Rock

10 minutes North of Lafayette lies Prophet Rock, the landmark 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 the assignation of Harrison must be done. 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 from where Tenskwatawa still stands over the battlefield, though now covered with much taller trees. You can access the rock by either scaling it from the small parking lot immediately in front or hiking the ridge line that leads to the top. [31]

Headstone of Martin P. Jenners

The Martin Jenners headstone is located at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette.[32] Jenners was a Civil War veteran[33][34][35] who was known as the first white person born in Tippecanoe County and as an outspoken atheist.[36] Originally located in Greenbush Cemetery,[37] his headstone is unique because he had it placed in the cemetery fourteen years before his death, and it has the following inscription: "My only objection to religion is that it is not true. No preaching, no praying, no psalm singing on this lot." Jenners' headstone goes on mention two verses that he apparently believed to contradict each other, hence making the Bible untrue. The verses are 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 many years after his death.[38][39] Jenners' headstone inscription has been cited as an example of the Bible being taken out of context.[40][41][42]

Jenners Tombstone Tombstone of Martin P. Jenners. Spring Vale Cemetery, Lafayette, Indiana.

Notable buildings

See also


  1. 1 2 "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  4. "Population Estimates". Retrieved 2015-08-04.
  5. "Interactive City Directory". Sister Cities International. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  6. 1 2 3 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. "Lafayette, Indiana". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  8. Smith 3, Fletcher (2014). "Find a name". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  9. "Lafayette (city), Indiana – QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  10. "Feast of the Hunters' Moon". Tippecanoe County Historical Association. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  11. A Day in the Life of Tippecanoe County, Tippecanoe County Historical Association
  12. Guide to the Henry Leavitt Ellsworth Papers, Yale University Library
  13. A Day in the Life of Tippecanoe County, Tippecanoe County Historical Association
  14. 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.
  15. First Air Mail Flight
  16. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  17. "Monthly Averages for Lafayette, Indiana". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  18. "Monthly Averages for Lafayette, IN (47905)". The Weather Channel. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  19. "Climatology of the United States No. 20: LAFAYETTE 8 S, IN 1971–2000" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  20. METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  21. MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  22. COMBINED STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENT CORE BASED STATISTICAL AREAS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  23. Amtrak in Lafaytte, Indiana 1994 gregarnst
  24. Amtrak in Lafaytte, Indiana May 1995 gregarnst
  25. Online Live Bus timings updates, 2007-05-11.
  26. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  27. imdb page of Tammy Lynn Michaels
  28. Home Page: Ken Navarro
  29. imdb page of Victor Potel
  30. "Eric Bruntlett Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  31. "PROPHET'S ROCK". Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  32. "Martin P. Jenners." Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  33. "The Civil War: Jenners, Martin P." National Park Service. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  34. "76th Regiment, Indiana Infantry (30 days, 1862)." Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  35. "76th Regiment."
  36. "Oldest White Child Born in Lafayette Found Dead." The Indianapolis Star, December 23, 1919. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  37. "OBJECT TO EPITAPH HE HAS CARVED ON HEADSTONE. SAYS THE BIBLE IS FICTION." The Indianapolis News, September 2, 1905. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  38. "Tombstone Says Bible is False." Syracuse Telegram and Courier, September 29, 1905. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  39. Jensen, Laurie. "Early Settler's Last Words Continue to Draw a Crowd." Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  40. Stone, Perry. "Using the Wrong Sword for the Wrong Battle." Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  41. Stone, Perry. Secrets From Beyond the Grave. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2010. ISBN 1616381574. Google Books. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  42. Stone, Perry. There's a Crack in Your Armor. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014. ISBN 1621362485. Google Books. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
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