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City of Valparaiso
—  City  —
Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso
Flag of City of Valparaiso
Official seal of City of Valparaiso
Nickname(s): Valpo
Motto: "Vale of Paradise"
Location in Indiana
Coordinates: 41°28′34″N 87°3′25″W / 41.47611, -87.05694Coordinates: 41°28′34″N 87°3′25″W / 41.47611, -87.05694
Country United States
State Indiana
County Porter
Township Center
 • Mayor Jon Costas (R)
 • Total 15.58 sq mi (40.35 km2)
 • Land 15.53 sq mi (40.22 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)  0.32%
Elevation 794 ft (242 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 31,730
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 32,014
 • Density 2,043.1/sq mi (788.8/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 46383-46385
Area code(s) 219
FIPS code 18-78326[4]
GNIS feature ID 0449849[5]

Valparaiso ( /ˌvɑːlpəˈrz/ vahl-pə-RAY-zoh) is 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 Indians 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 at 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 Indian 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 "Valley of Paradise" in 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 here at the end of the 19th Century.

The city 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 through the downtown area.

Until 1991, it 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, the city has a total area of 15.58 square miles (40.4 km2), of which 15.53 square miles (40.2 km2) (or 99.68%) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) (or 0.32%) is water.[1]


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, Indiana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 33
Average low °F (°C) 16
Rainfall inches (mm) 2.1
Snowfall inches (cm) 8.8
Source: Weatherbase[11]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 522
1860 1,698 225.3%
1870 2,765 62.8%
1880 4,461 61.3%
1890 5,090 14.1%
1900 6,280 23.4%
1910 6,987 11.3%
1920 6,518 −6.7%
1930 8,079 23.9%
1940 8,736 8.1%
1950 12,028 37.7%
1960 15,227 26.6%
1970 20,020 31.5%
1980 22,247 11.1%
1990 24,414 9.7%
2000 27,428 12.3%
2010 31,730 15.7%
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.[12]


Higher education[]

The city is the site of multiple colleges and universities. Purdue University North Central has a satellite campus in Valparaiso, and one of Ivy Tech's 23 regional campuses is located in the city. Valparaiso is also home to namesake Valparaiso University, occupying 310 acres (1.3 km2) 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.

Primary and secondary education[]

  • Public schools[13]

    Valparaiso Community Schools cover all of Center Township and most of the city of Valparaiso (that which is within Center Township)

    • Valparaiso Community Schools
      • Valparaiso High School
      • Porter County Career and Technical Center
      • Benjamin Franklin Middle School
      • Thomas Jefferson Middle School
      • Central Elementary
      • Cooks Corner Elementary School
      • Hayes Leonard Elementary
      • Flint Lake Elementary School
      • Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
      • Memorial Elementary
      • Northview Elementary School
      • Parkview Elementary
    • East Porter County Schools
      • Washington Township High School; serves part of the city of Valparaiso
  • Private schools
    • Christ Baptist Christian Academy
    • The Classical Academy
    • Immanuel Lutheran School (K-8)
    • Montessori School of Valparaiso
    • Saint Paul's Catholic School (K-8)
    • Spirit Of God Accelerated Education,
    • South Haven Christian School[14]
    • Victory Christian Academy


  • Taltree Arboretum and Gardens
  • Featured in Valparaiso, a play by Don DeLillo
  • The Valparaiso Downtown Commercial District, Washington Street Historic District, and the Banta Neighborhood feature many historic homes; architectural designs include, Italianate, Arts & Crafts, and English/Cottswald.
  • 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.

Live theater[]

  • Chicago Street Theatre, run by the local Community Theater Guild.[15]
  • The Memorial Opera House, a musical theater venue.
  • Valparaiso Theatrical Company, a non-profit community theatre group focused on providing fund-raising opportunities for other non-profit organizations through theatrical performance.[16]


  • Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University
  • Indiana Aviation Museum
  • Porter County Museum, also known as the Old Jail Museum.

Local media[]


  • The Times of Northwest Indiana (or NWI Times), was founded in 1906 and is the second largest of Indiana’s 76 daily newspapers.[17]
  • The Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana was founded in 1907, serving the Northwest Indiana region. The Post-Tribune is owned by the Sun Times Media Group.[18]


  • Shore Magazine is a magazine produced by the NWI Times, which also produces ShoreLines, a weekly newsletter.[19]

Parks and recreation[]

Valparaiso has an extensive city park district. In 2005 there were currently thirteen parks with another in the planning stages.[20]


Fairground Park and the walking circuit

200 East, (east McCord Rd) – a community park with a playground; where many of the cities 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, tennis courts, 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 4 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.


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.


  • Valparaiso Country Club
  • Forest Park
  • Creekside
  • Mink Lake
  • The Course at Aberdeen

Bike trails Valparaiso is building a series of bike trails across the city. Currently, most of the identified bike routes are part of the county's system of recommended roads and streets.[21]

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

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 racing events and a balloon launch 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.[22] 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.[23]

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 though 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.

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.[24]

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.[25]

Buildings of Note[]

  • Porter County Courthouse replaced an earlier brick building in 1883. The current building is 128 feet by 98 feet. It was built with a square tower rising out of the center. The tower was 168 feet tall with a clock on each side. A fire in 1934 damaged in the interior requiring the removal of the tower.[26]

Buildings and districts on the NRHP[]

  • Clarence H. Martin House an Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures[27]
  • Conrad and Catherine Bloch House
  • Haste-Crumpacker House
  • Heritage Hall
  • Immanuel Lutheran Church
  • Dr. David J. Loring Residence and Clinic
  • William McCallum House
  • Charles S. and Mary McGill House
  • Porter County Jail and Sheriff's House
  • Porter County Memorial Opera Hall
  • David Garland Rose House
  • DeForest Skinner House
  • Valparaiso Downtown Commercial District

Notable people[]

  • Newton Arvin, literary critic[28]
  • John L. Bascom, politician[29]
  • Beulah Bondi, actress[30]
  • Kevin L. Brown, former Major League Baseball player[31]
  • Mark N. Brown, astronaut[32]
  • Bryce Drew, former NBA player; current head coach for Valparaiso University basketball[33]
  • Michael Essany, reality television talk show host and author
  • Chris Funk, guitarist for The Decemberists[34]
  • Henry C. Gordon, astronaut[35]
  • Robbie Hummel, All-American forward for Purdue University men's basketball team and 58th overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves[36]
  • Samuel Austin Kendall, politician[37]
  • Heather Kuzmich, 4th runner-up of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 9
  • Earl F. Landgrebe, politician, staunch defender of Richard Nixon[38]
  • David E. Lilienthal, politician[39]
  • Orville Redenbacher, hybrid popcorn developer[40]
  • Jeff Samardzija, former University of Notre Dame football and baseball player, currently a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.[41]
  • Carly Schroeder, actress[42]
  • Walter Wangerin, Jr., noted author and professor at Valparaiso University[43]
  • Ginger Zee, weather forecaster for ABC's Good Morning America[44]
  • R. Harold Zook, architect[45]

See also[]


  1. ^ a b "Places: Indiana". 2010 Census Gazetteer Files. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  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
  9. ^ "History of Valparaiso". Valparaiso, Indiana. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Baker, Ronald L.; Marvin Carmony (1995). Indiana Place Names. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-253-28340-X. 
  11. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Valparaiso, Indiana". Retrieved May 26, 2009. 
  12. ^ Sesquicentennial, The way We Were in 1986, Sesquicentennial Board; Porter County, Indiana; 1986
  13. ^ Verizon Yellow Pages, Portage-Valparaiso; November 2007
  14. ^
  15. ^ Home - Chicago Street Theatre
  16. ^ Valparaiso Theatrical Company | The Theater That Cares
  17. ^ Porter County News
  18. ^ "Porter County". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  19. ^ Shore Magazine
  20. ^ Your Guide to Summer Fun! Indiana Dunes, The Casual Coast; Porter County Convention and Recreation and Visitors Commission, 2005
  21. ^ Northwest Indiana Bike Map, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Spring 2008
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^
  24. ^ Indiana Deportment of Transportation (2011) (PDF). Indiana Transportation Map (Map). Cartography by INDOT (2011–12 ed.). Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  25. ^ Indiana Department of Transportation (August 23, 2011) (PDF). Indiana Railroad Map (Map). Cartography by INDOT. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  26. ^ Neeley, George E.; City of Valparaiso, A Pictorial History; G. Bradley Publishing, Inc.; St. Louis, Missouri; 1989
  27. ^ Porter County : interim report :: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory
  28. ^ "Newton Arvin". Smithipedia. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  29. ^ "John L. Bascom". Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  30. ^ "Beulah Bondi". TURNER ENTERTAINMENT NETWORKS, INC. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  31. ^ "Kevin Brown". Pro-Baseball Reference . Com. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  32. ^ "Mark N. Brown". Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  33. ^ "Bryce Drew". Pro-Basketball Reference . Com. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  34. ^ "Chris Funk". Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  35. ^ "Biographies of U.S. Astronauts". Spacefacts. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Robbie Hummel". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  37. ^ "Samuel Austin Kendall". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  38. ^ "Earl F. Landgrebe". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  39. ^ David E. Lilienthal. David E. Lilienthal: The Journey of an American Liberal. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  40. ^ "Orville Redenbacher". Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  41. ^ "Jeff Samardzija". Pro-Baseball Reference . Com. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  42. ^ "Carly Schroeder". Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  43. ^ "Walter Wangerin, Jr". Valparaiso University. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  44. ^ "Ginger Zee". Valparaiso University. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  45. ^ "R. Harold Zook". October 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 

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