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Lafayette, Indiana
City of Lafayette
Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza & CityBus depot in August 2011.
Downtown Lafayette and the Riehle Plaza & CityBus depot in August 2011.
Flag of Lafayette, Indiana
"Star City"
Tippecanoe County Indiana Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Lafayette Highlighted.svg
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
 • 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)
692 ft (211 m)
 • City 67,140
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,420.3/sq mi (934.5/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
47901, 47904, 47905, 47909
Area code(s) 765
Sister cities
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 437501

Lafayette ( or lah-fee-YET) is a city in and the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States, 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.


Marquis de Lafayette 1
General Lafayette, 1792
This panoramic map illustrates a bird's-eye view of Lafayette, Indiana, in 1868.

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.

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. 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 the early real estate developer.

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.


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) 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.

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.

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
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.91
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.5
Avg. 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
Avg. 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)
Source #2: NOAA


Lafayette-Frankfort CSA
Location of the Lafayette-Frankfort CSA and its components:      Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area      Frankfort Micropolitan Statistical Area
500 Farmers Wanted
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), which had a combined population of 212,408 at the 2000 census.

2010 census

As of the census 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.


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


  • There is no airport in Lafayette. The nearest airport is the Purdue University Airport (LAF), in West Lafayette, IN. The nearest airport which currently has airline service is the Indianapolis International Airport, which is about 60 miles south of Lafayette.


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.

See also: Lafayette, Indiana (Amtrak station)
CityBus GLPTC logo

Bus Service

  • CityBus local bus service by the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation
  • Greyhound intercity bus service
  • Lafayette Limo shuttle service to the Indianapolis International Airport
  • Suburban Express operates weekend bus service between Purdue and Chicago Suburbs when Purdue is in session.
  • Star of America (provides shuttle service to the Indianapolis International Airport)

Arts and culture

Main St., Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 02
Main St.

Arts organizations

  • Tippecanoe Arts Federation
  • Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
  • The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Fairs and festivals

  • Feast of the Hunters' Moon
  • Art in the Park
  • OUTfest
  • Mosey Down Main Street
  • Round the Fountain Art Fair
  • A Taste of Tippecanoe
  • Uptown Jazz and Blues Festival
  • Dancing and Cruising in the Streets

Points of interest

Jardín Botánico Jerry E. Clegg, Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 02
Clegg Botanical Garden.
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, Estados Unidos, 2012-10-15, DD 31
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.

Headstone of Martin P. Jenners

The Martin Jenners headstone is located at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette. Jenners was a Civil War veteran who was known as the first white person born in Tippecanoe County and as an outspoken atheist. Originally located in Greenbush Cemetery, 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. Jenners' headstone inscription has been cited as an example of the Bible being taken out of context.

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

Notable buildings

  • The old Temple Israel (Lafayette, Indiana) building at 17 South 7th St. is one of the oldest surviving synagogue buildings in the United States.
  • Trinity United Methodist Church (formerly Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church – until 1969) – is the first church to have been started in the Lafayette, Indiana, area. Its current building was erected in 1869 by William Heath and has remained intact to this day.
  • Tippecanoe Mall is the main shopping center.


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