Northwest Indiana facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Gary-Hammond Metropolitan Area
Map of Northwest Indiana

Common name: The Region
Largest city
Other cities
Hammond
 - Gary
 - Portage
 - Merrillville
 - Michigan City
Counties   - Jasper
 - Lake
 - LaPorte
 - Newton
 - Porter

Northwest Indiana comprises Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana. This region neighbors Lake Michigan and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. According to the 2010 Census, Northwest Indiana has a population of 819,537 and is the state's second largest urban area after the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. It is also the home of the Indiana Dunes, parts of which have been preserved through conservation efforts. The town of Ogden Dunes houses the Hour Glass, a museum showcasing the ecological and conservation efforts of O. D. Frank.

The region's largest city is Hammond, followed closely by Gary. Other municipalities in Northwest Indiana include Chesterton, Crown Point, DeMotte, Dyer, East Chicago, Griffith, Highland, Hebron, Hobart, Kentland, Lake Station, La Porte, Merrillville, Michigan City, Munster, Portage, Rensselaer, Schererville, St. John, Cedar Lake, Valparaiso, and Winfield.

Overview

The counties of Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton and Porter are included in the Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City Combined Statistical Area, the broadest of the census-derived Metropolitan definitions. Unlike the majority of Indiana, which operates on Eastern Standard Time, these counties are among six in Northern Indiana that are in the Central Time Zone (the other being Starke). This reflects their close economic integration in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Three counties — Lake, Porter and LaPorte — are served by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission metropolitan planning organization. Northwest Indiana is the home of Marktown, Clayton Mark's planned worker community.

The urban areas of Lake County and the contiguous urbanized part of Porter County are sometimes referred to as "The Region," or colloquially, humorously, or even pejoratively, "Da Region."

Geography

West Beach Succession Trail Dune
The Long Stairs up the dune at West Beach on the Succession Trail

The Lake Michigan shore is a major attraction. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which stretches from Gary to Michigan City, is a well-preserved stretch of sand dunes, beaches, grasslands, and forests, as well as several historical homes and buildings.

The terrain of Northwest Indiana varies from very steep and rugged at the dunes, to rolling in the moraines, and to pancake flat in the river valleys. It was shaped by glacial activity and Lake Michigan. The main geographical features of Northwest Indiana include the Valparaiso Moraine, Tinley Moraine, Lake Border Moraine, Iroquois Moraine, Calumet Shoreline, Glenwood Shoreline, Tolleston shorelines, and the Kankakee Outwash Plain.

Chicago Lake Plain

The Chicago Lake Plain covers the relatively flat northern quarter of Northwest Indiana north of the moraines. Initially, the plain was flat, composed of glacio-lacustrine deposits. These formed under the waters of glacial Lake Michigan. The lake formed from the melting glaciers north of the Valparaiso Moraine. Eventually the lake overflowed a low spot on the moraine at the Chicago Outlet near the southwest suburbs. This lowered the lake level to current day Lake Michigan levels (Horsley, 1986). As the lake shrunk, it left a series of sand ridges where its ancient beaches were. Along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the prevailing winds have built a series of dune ridges, breaking up the original flat surface of the Lake Plain.

Wheaton Morainal Plain

Kankakee Physiography modified
Physiography of the Upper Illinois River Basin

South of the Chicago Lake Plain in the central parts of Lake and Porter County and northern LaPorte county is the hilly Wheaton Morainal Plain. The Wheaton Morainal Plain consist of the Valparaiso Moraine and Tinley Moraine, paralleling the Lake Michigan Shoreline. The plain consist of rolling Wisconsinan-age moraines. The Morainal Plain is clayey till, and sandy and loamy till, with areas of sand and gravel. Other deposits include lake clay, silt, and alluvium. Deposits are between 50 and 200 ft thick, with many southern areas have over 200 ft of till (Mades, 1987).

Kankakee Outwash Plain

The Kankakee Outwash Plain (southern Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties) is a flat outwash plain formed by the melting glacier, which was stopped at the Valparaiso Moraine. (Mickelson and others, 1984). Deposits are predominantly sand and gravel, but also include alluvium and fill materials. Deposits average less than 200 ft thick; in the lowlands they can be less than 50 ft thick, while in the upland they can be more than 200 ft thick. Local elevation changes are less than 100 ft. and include many scattered sand dunes.

Bloomington Ridged Plain

The Bloomington Ridged Plain covers only the most southern part of Northwest Indiana in the valley of the Iroquois River in southern Newton and Jasper counties. This area consists of low and rolling hills, i.e., moraines like the Iroquois Moraine with less than 300 ft changes in elevation. The soils are loamy till, lake clay and silt. Unlike the northern half of Northwest Indiana, the Huron-Erie glacial lobe left these deposits in its northeastward retreat. Deposits are less than 200 ft thick, with some more than 400 feet thick.

Counties

Census Bureau population statistics

Census Area 2010 Census 2000 Census 1990 Census 1980 Census 1970 Census 1960 Census 1950 Census
Jasper County, Indiana
33,478
30,043
24,960
26,138
20,429
18,842
17,031
Lake County, Indiana
496,005
484,564
475,594
522,965
546,253
513,269
368,152
LaPorte County, Indiana
111,467
110,106
107,066
108,632
105,342
95,111
76,808
Newton County, Indiana
14,244
14,566
13,551
14,844
11,606
11,502
11,006
Porter County, Indiana
164,343
146,798
128,932
119,816
87,114
60,279
40,076
Total
819,537
786,077
750,103
792,395
770,744
699,003
513,073

Transportation

Major airports

  • Gary/Chicago International Airport (GYY)

Commuter rail

South Shore Train at Dunes Park
South Shore Train at Dune Park Station

*South Shore Line connecting Chicago to South Bend, Indiana, passing through Gary and Michigan City

Highways

  • I-65.svg Interstate 65
  • I-80.svg Interstate 80
  • I-90.svg Interstate 90 Indiana Toll Road logo 1968.png
  • I-94.svg Interstate 94
  • US 6.svg U.S. Route 6
  • US 12.svg U.S. Route 12
  • US 20.svg U.S. Route 20
  • US 24.svg U.S. Route 24
  • US 30.svg U.S. Route 30
  • US 35.svg U.S. Route 35
  • US 41.svg U.S. Route 41
  • US 231.svg U.S. Route 231
  • US 421.svg U.S. Route 421
  • Indiana 2.svg Indiana State Road 2
  • Indiana 4.svg Indiana State Road 4
  • Indiana 8.svg Indiana State Road 8
  • Indiana 10.svg Indiana State Road 10
  • Indiana 14.svg Indiana State Road 14
  • Indiana 16.svg Indiana State Road 16
  • Indiana 39.svg Indiana State Road 39
  • Indiana 49.svg Indiana State Road 49
  • Indiana 51.svg Indiana State Road 51
  • Indiana 53.svg Indiana State Road 53
  • Indiana 55.svg Indiana State Road 55
  • Indiana 71.svg Indiana State Road 71
  • Indiana 104.svg Indiana State Road 104
  • Indiana 114.svg Indiana State Road 114
  • Indiana 130.svg Indiana State Road 130
  • Indiana 149.svg Indiana State Road 149
  • Indiana 152.svg Indiana State Road 152
  • Indiana 212.svg Indiana State Road 212
  • Indiana 249.svg Indiana State Road 249
  • Indiana 312.svg Indiana State Road 312
  • Indiana 520.svg Indiana State Road 520
  • Indiana 912.svg Indiana State Road 912

Parks and nature areas

  • Biesecker Nature Preserve, St. John, Lake County
  • Calumet Prairie Nature Preserve, Gary, Lake County
  • Conrad Savanna Nature Preserve, Conrad, Newton County (black and white oak savanna)
  • Fish Lake Wildlife Conservation Area, Fish Lake, LaPorte County
  • Gibson Woods Nature Preserve, Hammond, Lake County
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter County
    • Cowles Bog
    • Pinhook Bog, LaPorte County
    • Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve, Griffith, Lake County
  • Indiana Dunes State Park, Porter County
    • Dunes Nature Preserve
  • Ivanhoe Nature Preserve, Gary, Indiana
  • Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, Radioville, Pulaski County
  • Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area, Kingbury, LaPorte County
  • LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area
  • Stoutsburg Savanna Nature Preserve, Wheatfield, Jasper County (rolling sand ridges)
  • Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, Morocco, Newton County
See also: Kankakee River

Northwest Indiana Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.