Main Births etc
Columbus, Indiana
—  City  —
North Christian Church, designed by Eero Saarinen, one of the city's modern architectural landmarks
Nickname(s): Athens of the Prairie.
Motto: "Unexpected. Unforgettable"[1]
Location in the state of Indiana
Coordinates: 39°12′50″N 85°54′40″W / 39.21389, -85.91111
Country United States
State Indiana
County Bartholomew
 • Mayor Kristen Brown (R)
 • Total 27.89 sq mi (72.23 km2)
 • Land 27.50 sq mi (71.22 km2)
 • Water 0.39 sq mi (1.01 km2)
Elevation 630 ft (192 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 44,061
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 45,429
 • Density 1,602.2/sq mi (618.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
ZIP codes 47201-47203
Area code(s) 812 & 930
FIPS code 18-14734[5]
GNIS feature ID 0432826[6]
Website City of Columbus Indiana

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. Located approximately forty miles (64 km) south of Indianapolis, on the east fork of the White River, it is the state's 20th largest city. It is also the principal city of the Columbus, Indiana, metropolitan statistical area which encompasses all of Bartholomew County.

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 one of "The Ten Most Playful Towns" by Nick Jr. Family Magazine.[10] The July 2005 edition of GQ magazine named Columbus one of the "62 Reasons to Love Your Country".[11] Columbus is the headquarters of the engine company Cummins, Inc.


The land which is now Columbus was bought by General John Tipton and Luke Bonesteel in 1820. General Tipton built a log cabin on Mt. Tipton, a small hill overlooking White River and the surrounding flat, heavily forested and swampy valley. The town was known as Tiptonia, named in honor of General Tipton. The town's name was changed to Columbus on March 20, 1821. General Tipton was upset by the name change and decided to leave the newly founded town.[12] He later became 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.

It was recorded for years in the local history books that the land on which Columbus sits was donated by General Tipton; however, a deed purporting to show a sale of the land was acquired in 2003 by Historic Columbus Indiana. The deed indicated that General Tipton actually sold the land.

A ferry was established to avoid crossing both the Flatrock and Driftwood rivers, which join only a short distance above the site of the ferry. This became a village of three or four log cabins, 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 reached 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 communities in Indiana, and three more railroads reached the city by 1850.

Columbus is host to the oldest theater in the State of Indiana, The Crump Theatre, which was built in 1889 by John Crump. Today the building is in a National Register District and an all-ages venue with occasional musical performances. Columbus was host to the former oldest continually operated bookstore in Indiana: Cummins Bookstore. The bookstore first began operations in 1892 and closed in late 2007.

The Irwin Union Bank building was built in 1954. It was designated 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 Industries, 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]

Because Columbus is far enough from Indianapolis, it benefits tremendously from nearby commuters who recognize Columbus as a major city in its own right. Nearly 19,000 workers commute into the city from the surrounding townships and villages. In recent years city officials have explored ways to revitalize the city and return Columbus to the days when Miller's architectural innovation made it one of the most envied cities in the US. Economic development, widespread beautification innovations, various tax incentives, and increased law enforcement have helped Columbus overcome what some considered a slump during the 1980s and 1990s.


Columbus is located at 39°12′50″N 85°54′40″W / 39.21389, -85.91111 (39.213998, −85.911056).[17] The Driftwood and Flatrock Rivers converge at Columbus to form the East Fork of the White River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.89 square miles (72.23 km2), of which 27.50 square miles (71.22 km2) is land and 0.39 square miles (1.01 km2) is water.[2]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 1,008
1860 1,840 82.5%
1870 3,359 82.6%
1880 4,813 43.3%
1890 6,719 39.6%
1900 8,130 21.0%
1910 8,813 8.4%
1920 8,990 2.0%
1930 9,935 10.5%
1940 11,738 18.1%
1950 18,370 56.5%
1960 20,778 13.1%
1970 26,457 27.3%
1980 30,614 15.7%
1990 31,802 3.9%
2000 39,059 22.8%
2010 44,061 12.8%
Est. 2012 45,429 16.3%
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[]

Fountain in front of the Commons-Courthouse Center

Columbus is a city known for its architecture. 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 company paid the architects' fee, provided the client selected a firm from a list compiled by Miller. The plan was initiated with public schools and was so successful that Miller decided to defray the design costs of fire stations, public housing, and other community structures. The high number of notable public buildings and sculptures in the Columbus area, designed by such individuals as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli, and Richard Meier have led to Columbus earning the nickname "Athens of the Prairie."[18] Six buildings, built 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. National Geographic Magazine once devoted an entire article to the town's architecture.

National Historic Landmarks[]

  • First Baptist Church[19] was designed by Harry Weese without windows and was dedicated in 1965. Its architectural features are meaningfully designed and include a high-pitched roof and skylight.[20]
  • First Christian Church[19] was designed by Eliel Saarinen with a 160-ft (49m) tower and was dedicated in 1942. Among the first Modern religious buildings in America, it includes a sunken terrace and a 900-person sanctuary.[21]
  • Irwin Union Bank[19] was designed by Eero Saarinen and includes an addition by Kevin Roche. The building was dedicated in 1954 and is possibly the first financial institution in America to use glass walls and an open floor plan.[22]
  • The Mabel McDowell School[19] opened in 1960 and was designed by John Carl Warnecke early in his career using his "early comprehensive diverse approach." The architect fee was the second to be funded by the Cummins Engine Foundation.[23]
  • The Miller House and Garden[19] was constructed in 1957 and was designed by Eero Saarinen and landscaped by Dan Kiley. One of the few residential designs by Saarinen, the home is a representation of International Style and was built for J. Irwin Miller.[24]
  • North Christian Church[19] was designed by Eero Saarinen and held its first worship in 1964. The hexagonal shaped building includes a 192-ft (59m) spire and houses a Holtkamp organ.[25]
  • The Republic Newspaper Building was designed by Myron Goldsmith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Other notable Modern buildings[]

  • Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, by I. M. Pei
  • Columbus East High School, by Romaldo Giurgola
  • Commons Centre and Mall, by César Pelli
  • St. Peter's Lutheran Church, by Gunnar Birkerts
  • Lincoln Elementary School, by Gunnar Birkerts
  • Otter Creek Golf Course, by Harry Weese
  • Fire Station No. 4, by Robert Venturi

Notable historic buildings[]

  • Columbus Power House by Harrison Albright
  • The Crump Theatre by Charles Franklin Sparrell

Henry Moore's Large Arch

Public Art[]

  • Chaos I by Jean Tinguely
  • Friendship Way by William A. Johnson, containing an untitled neon sculpture by Cork Marcheschi
  • Irwin Gardens at the Inn at Irwin Gardens
  • Large Arch by Henry Moore
  • 2 Arcs de 212.5˚ by Bernar Venet
  • Horses by Costantino Nivola
  • The Family by Harris Barron
  • Yellow Neon Chandelier and Persians by Dale Chihuly
  • C by Robert Indiana
  • Sermon on the Mount by Loja Saarinen and Eliel Saarinen
  • History and Mystery by William T. Wiley
  • Exploded Engine by Rudolph de Harak
  • Eos, sculpture by Dessa Kirk


The 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.[26] Columbus also boasts a roller derby league, the Terrorz of Tiny Towns. Established in 2010, this league hosts weekly practices at Columbus Skateland.[27] 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 world class 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.


Columbus uses the Mayor-Council form of government. The council consists of seven members. Five are elected from one of five wards the other two are elected at-large. The Mayor is elected in a citywide vote. The current mayor is Kristen Brown.

Notable residents[]

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

  • Stevie Brown: NFL safety
  • Clessie Cummins: inventor, mechanic, salesman, and founder of engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc.
  • William H. Donner: businessman, industrialist and philanthropist
  • Arthur W Graham III: creator of first fully automatic electronic race timing & scoring system, long-time Indy 500 executive race official
  • Lee H. Hamilton: member of U.S. Congress and co-chair of the 9/11 Commission
  • Irving Howbert: one of the founders of Colorado Springs; silver mine owner, banker, and railroad executive, born in Columbus in 1846
  • Jordan Bryce Hutson: gospel musician
  • Jamie Hyneman: host of MythBusters
  • Blair Kiel: NFL player
  • Henry Kohen: performing artist under the moniker "Mylets", signed to Sargent House Records
  • Debbi Lawrence: race walker[28]
  • Forrest Lucas: owner/founder of Lucas Oil Products, sponsor of the Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Scott McNealy: chairman and co-founder of Sun Microsystems
  • J. Irwin Miller: industrialist
  • Jeff Osterhage: television and film actor
  • Bob Paris: best-selling author, award-winning public speaker and social change agent, former Mr. Universe
  • Mike Pence: Incumbent Governor of Indiana
  • Terry Schmidt: NFL cornerback
  • Stephen Sprouse: fashion designer
  • Tony Stewart: Race Car Champion and Owner, USAC, 3 Time NASCAR Stock Car Champion, Indianapolis 500, RaceTrack Owner, Owner of NASCAR Stock Car Team; Stewart Haas Racing – SHR
  • Jill Tasker: television and voice actor
  • Chuck Taylor: shoe designer and basketball player
  • Bruce Tinsley: creator of Mallard Fillmore
  • Herbert Wright: producer


There is currently one mainstream movie theater, AMC 12, which shows new movies, and the Yes! Cinema shows independent, older, and foreign films from its location downtown. The landmark Crump Theatre featured occasional local performances, such as comedy and local rock or punk bands, and occasional theatrical performances.

There is a canoe livery, Blue's Canoes, that offers canoeing, rafting and kayaking trips on the nearby Driftwood River.[29]


The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation operates public schools.

See also[]

  • The Republic, daily newspaper based in Columbus
  • List of public art in Columbus, Indiana


  1. ^ "City of Columbus Indiana". City of Columbus Indiana. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  8. ^ "Historic Destinations Rated – North America". National Geographic Traveler. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ Minnis, Paul (October 2, 2006). "Columbus wins America in Bloom". The Republic. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Top Ten Playful Towns in America Revealed Today by Nick Jr. Magazine". PR Newswire. March 22, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Columbus features in national publications". Columbus, Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Distler, A. David (October 2008). Anarchy in the Heartland: The Reno Gang Saga. A David Distler. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-9705297-1-8. 
  13. ^ McMahon, Morgan E. A Flick of the Switch 1930–1950 (Antiques Electronics Supply, 1990), pp.58–9.
  14. ^ "ArvinMeritor posts loss, changing name". Reuters. February 2, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Infotech Park of Columbus, Indiana". Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  16. ^ Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877–1925. (New York: Bonanza, 1950), p.122-4.
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c d e f "National Historic Landmarks Survey, Indiana". National Park Service. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Who We Are". First Baptist Church. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Our Building". First Christian Church. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Irwin Union Bank and Trust". NHLS. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  23. ^ "National Historic Landmark Nomation – Mabel McDowell". National Park Service. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Miller House". National Park Service. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  25. ^ "North Christian Church Architecture". North Christian Church. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Sport Reference-Debbi Lawrence
  29. ^


  • Illustrated Historical Atlas of Bartholomew County, Indiana, 1879 (reprinted by the Bartholomew County Historical Society, 1978)
  • 2003 History of Bartholomew County, Indiana, Volume II, copyright 2003, by the Bartholomew County Historical Society

Further reading[]

  • Columbus Indiana in Vintage Postcards, by Tamara Stone Iorio, copyright 2005 by Tamara Stone Iorio, published by Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-3449-8
  • "Have you Seen my Town?" by Pamela Dinsmore
  • "Images of America: Columbus" by Patricia Mote
  • "I Discover Columbus" by William Marsh
  • "The Diesel Odyssey of Clessie Cummins" by Lyle Cummins
  • "The Engine that Could" by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and David B. Sicilia
  • "Columbus Indiana" by Balthazar Korab
  • "A Look at Architecture: Columbus Indiana" by the Visitor's Center
  • "People and Places in my Town, Columbus Indiana" by Sylvia Worton
  • "Folk Heroes, Heroines and Hometown Heritage – From Columbus, Indiana's City Hall Murals and Beyond" is about Columbus' outstanding personality beyond its architecture. ISBN 978-0-615-27621-2, by Rose Pelone Sisson

External links[]

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Coordinates: 39°12′50″N 85°54′40″W / 39.213998, -85.911056

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Columbus, Indiana. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.