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Lafayette, Indiana
Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza and CityBus depot
Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza and CityBus depot
Flag of Lafayette, Indiana
"Star City"
Lafayette, Indiana is located in Indiana
Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette, Indiana
Location in Indiana
Lafayette, Indiana is located in the United States
Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette, Indiana
Location in the United States
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
 • Type Mayor–council
 • City 29.50 sq mi (76.41 km2)
 • Land 29.38 sq mi (76.09 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.33 km2)
 • Metro
904.6 sq mi (2,343 km2)
663 ft (202 m)
 • City 70,783
 • Density 2,409.39/sq mi (930.27/km2)
 • Metro
223,716 (205th)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
47901, 47904, 47905, 47909
Area code(s) 765
Interstate Highways I-65
U.S. Highways
  • US 52
  • US 231
Major state roads
  • SR 25
  • SR 26
  • SR 38
Waterways Wabash River
Airports Purdue University Airport
(West Lafayette)
Public transit CityBus
FIPS code 18-40788
GNIS feature ID 2395583

Lafayette ( lah-FEE-et, laf-EE-et) is a city in and is the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States, located 63 miles (101 km) northwest of Indianapolis and 125 miles (201 km) southeast of Chicago. According to the 2020 census, the population of Lafayette was 70,783. West Lafayette, on the other side of the Wabash River, is home to Purdue University, which contributes significantly to both communities. Together, they form the core of the Lafayette metropolitan area, which had a population of 235,066 in 2020.

Lafayette was founded in 1825 on the southeast bank of the Wabash River near where the river becomes impassable for riverboats upstream, though a French fort and trading post had existed since 1717 on the opposite bank and three miles downstream. It was named for the French general Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero.


When European explorers arrived at this area, it was inhabited by a tribe of Miami Native Americans 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 is held there each autumn.

Lafayette, 1868

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 around Lafayette and moved there from Connecticut to supervise land sales. By 1847 Ellsworth was distributing broadsides looking for farmers to purchase his farmland. 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. Ellsworth Street and Ellsworth Historic District are named for him.

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 airmail delivery in the United States on 17 August 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 US Postal Service issued a 7¢ airmail stamp commemorating the centennial of the event.


Lafayette skyline from West Lafayette
Lafayette skyline from West Lafayette

Lafayette is located in Fairfield and Wea Townships.

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


Neighborhoods include:

  • 9th Street Hill
  • Centennial
  • Columbian Park
  • Downtown
  • Ellsworth Romig
  • Glen Acres
  • Hanna
  • Hedgewood
  • Highland Park
  • Jefferson
  • Jesco Hills Estates
  • Lincoln
  • Linnwood
  • Monon
  • Orchard Heights
  • Perrin
  • Potter Hollow
  • St. Lawrence-McAllister
  • St. Mary's
  • Valley Center
  • Vinton Highlands
  • Vinton
  • Wabash
  • Wallace Triangle

Historic neighborhoods include Ninth Street Hill Neighborhood Historic District and Upper Main Street Historic District.


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.

Climate data for Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue University Airport) 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1944–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 69
Average high °F (°C) 33.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 25.8
Average low °F (°C) 18.2
Record low °F (°C) −23
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.19
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 8.1 10.6 11.6 12.6 12.6 11.8 10.4 9.4 9.5 10.1 10.3 126.3
Source: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 6,129
1860 9,387 53.2%
1870 13,506 43.9%
1880 14,860 10.0%
1890 16,243 9.3%
1900 18,116 11.5%
1910 20,081 10.8%
1920 22,486 12.0%
1930 26,240 16.7%
1940 28,798 9.7%
1950 35,558 23.5%
1960 42,330 19.0%
1970 44,955 6.2%
1980 43,011 −4.3%
1990 43,764 1.8%
2000 56,397 28.9%
2010 67,140 19.0%
2020 70,783 5.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

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), which had a combined population of 212,408 at the 2000 United States Census.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 67,140 people, 28,545 households, and 15,863 families 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% Asian, 0.0% 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.


Wabash River, and wind turbines at CityBus facility

Companies located in Lafayette include:

  • Wabash National, world's largest manufacturer of semi-truck trailers
  • Subaru of Indiana Automotive, the only non-Japanese producer of Subaru vehicles.
  • Evonik (Tippecanoe Laboratories) pharmaceuticals/chemicals
  • Primient, corn wet mill and refinery producing corn syrup
  • Landis+Gyr, manufacturer of electric meters for global ANSI markets
  • Caterpillar, Large Engine Center

Arts and culture

Main St., Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 02
Main Street
Lafayette old street
South Street historic row


  • A Taste of Tippecanoe

Public library

The Lafayette area has four branch locations of the Tippecanoe County Public Library:

  • Downtown Library
  • Wyandotte Branch
  • West Lafayette Klondike Branch
  • Wea Prairie Branch

Points of interest

Notable buildings

  • Judge Cyrus Ball House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • James H. Ward House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Temple Israel, 17 South 7th St. - one of the nation's oldest surviving synagogue buildings.
  • Trinity United Methodist Church (Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church until 1969) – the first church congregation in the Lafayette area. Its current building was erected in 1869 by William Heath and has remained intact to this day.
  • Tippecanoe Mall - the city's main shopping center.
  • Tippecanoe County Courthouse - built 1882–1884 at a cost of around $500,000 (double the original estimate).


Corte del Condado de Tippecanoe, Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 01
Tippecanoe County Courthouse

The government consists of a mayor – elected in a citywide vote – and a city council of nine members. Six are elected from individual districts; three are elected at-large.




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 was a tuition-free elementary charter school (sponsored by Ball State University) located on the north side of Lafayette; it closed in 2016.

Beacon Academy was a charter school operated by the Lafayette School Corporation in West Lafayette; it closed in 2018.



  • Lafayette Christian School
  • St. Boniface Elementary
  • St. Lawrence Elementary
  • St. Mary Cathedral Elementary

Middle School

  • St. Boniface Middle School

Junior/High School

  • Catholic Central Junior-Senior High School


  • Faith Christian School



  • Journal & Courier. The newspaper, which serves the Greater Lafayette area, has its newsroom and offices located in downtown Lafayette. Journal & Courier also has its own printing services for itself and other papers in the region on the eastside of Lafayette.
  • Purdue Exponent. Purdue University's independent student newspaper serves Purdue, West Lafayette, and Lafayette, and has its newsroom and offices located off campus on Northwestern Avenue in West Lafayette.
  • The Lafayette Leader


  • WPBI-LD 16 (Fox; NBC on LD2; ABC on LD3)
  • WLFI-TV 18 (CBS; CW on DT2; ION on DT3; GetTV on DT4; Start TV on DT5)
  • WPBY-LD 35 (ABC; MeTV/MyNetworkTV on LD2)

From 1953 until the 2016 launch of WPBI-LD, WLFI-TV had been the only "Big Three" (ABC, CBS and NBC—or, including Fox, "big four") commercial network television broadcaster in the Lafayette market. With the 2017 launch of WPBY-LD, local broadcasts of all "big four" networks became available.

WRTV, WTHR, WTTV, and WXIN, the respective ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates in Indianapolis which had been carried by cable and satellite providers in the Lafayette market as "out-of-market" stations, remain viewable in the area via a large over-the-air antenna or, in some cases, via a subscription satellite or streaming service. Cable provider Comcast Xfinity discontinued its remaining carriage of Indianapolis-based "big four" stations on March 7, 2018, but resumed carriage of WTHR and WRTV two days later.



  • WASK
  • WLQQ
  • WBPE
  • WYCM





US Route 52 Lafayette
Sagamore Parkway (as seen from West Lafayette)
Estación de FF.CC., Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 03
Riehle Plaza and the railway station


No airports are located within Lafayette city limits. The nearest general aviation airport is Purdue University Airport (LAF) in West Lafayette. The nearest commercial airport which currently has scheduled airline service is Indianapolis International Airport (IND), located approximately 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Lafayette in Indianapolis.



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

Buses and shuttles

  • CityBus local bus service by the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation
  • Greyhound intercity bus service
  • Lafayette Limo and Reindeer Shuttle to Indianapolis International Airport and O'Hare International Airport
  • Express Air Coach to O'Hare International Airport

Notable people

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


  • Karen Black – actress, attended Lafayette Jefferson High School
  • Jeremy Camp – Christian recording artist
  • Eric Carlson - lead guitarist, songwriter, founding member of The Mentors
  • Embeth Davidtz – film and television actress
  • Louise Fazenda – film actor whose career spanned silent and talking movies
  • Circuit Des Yeux - musician
  • Charles Foley – co-inventor of the game Twister
  • Mass Giorgini – musician and record producer
  • Troy Hickman – writer best known for his comic book work (Common Grounds, Twilight Guardian, City of Heroes, Witchblade, Turok)
  • Shannon Hoon – former lead vocalist of rock band Blind Melon
  • John Korty – director, screenwriter, known for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and documentary Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?
  • Claudia Lee – television actress, Hart of Dixie
  • Curt McDowell - director, writer, actor, artist
  • Larry McNeely – musician, banjo player with Glen Campbell and for film soundtracks
  • Tammy Lynn Michaels – television actor
  • Ken Navarro – smooth jazz guitarist
  • Chubby Parker – country music radio personality and recording artist
  • Sydney Pollack – film actor, director, and producer
  • Victor Potel – silent film actor
  • Axl Rose – co-founder and lead vocalist of rock band Guns N' Roses
  • Julia Scheeres – author, best known for ALA Alex Award-winning memoir Jesus Land
  • Izzy Stradlin – songwriter, co-founder and former rhythm guitarist of rock band Guns N' Roses
  • Henry Stram - actor


  • William Fritz Afflis known professionally as "Dick the Bruiser" – professional football player and wrestler; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
  • Eric Bruntlett – professional baseball player
  • Clem Crowe – professional football and basketball player
  • Todd Dunwoody – professional baseball player
  • Ray Ewry – 10-time Olympic champion in track and field
  • Bernard "Bernie" Flowers – college and professional football player; born in Cleveland area, lived in Lafayette
  • Bob Friend – professional baseball player
  • Dustin Keller – professional football player; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
  • Pete Halsmer – professional race car driver
  • Charles Kirkpatrick – professional race car driver
  • Josh Lindblom – professional baseball player
  • Chukie Nwokorie – professional football player; graduated from Lafayette Jefferson HS
  • Clayton Richard – professional baseball player; graduated from McCutcheon HS
  • Erik Sabel – professional baseball player
  • Justin Smith – football player
  • George Souders – professional race car driver (1927)

Business, law, politics

  • Roger D. Branigin – Governor of Indiana 1965–1969
  • John Burger – member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Steve Carter – Indiana Attorney General
  • Henry Leavitt Ellsworth – first Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office; real estate developer
  • Henry W. Ellsworth – son of Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, attorney, poet, author and Minister to Sweden
  • David W. Evans – US Representative, 6th Congressional District Indiana 1975–1983
  • Dan Flanagan – Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court
  • Lucinda Florio (1947–2022), teacher and advocate for education and literacy, who, as the wife of former New Jersey Governor James Florio, served as the First Lady of New Jersey
  • Clara Shortridge Foltz (1849–1934) – first female lawyer on the West Coast
  • Joseph García – Former Lt. Governor of Colorado
  • Herman Joseph Justin – founded Justin Boot Company
  • Brian Lamb – founder of C-SPAN
  • Bill Long – state representative
  • Frank Posegate – journalist, mayor of St. Joseph, Missouri
  • John Purdue – Purdue Block, Tippecanoe County founder, founding benefactor of Purdue University
  • Barbara Ringer – first female register of copyrights
  • Alvah Curtis Roebuck – founded Sears, Roebuck and Company
  • Neal Mohan – CEO of YouTube

Academic, science, technology


  • Emily Thornton Charles, poet, journalist
  • Benjaman Kyle, known for identity loss due to dissociative amnesia
  • Evaleen Stein (1863–1923), author, limner

Sister cities

Lafayette has two sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International.

See also

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