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South Bend, Indiana
City of South Bend
South Bend's skyline from across the St. Joseph River
South Bend's skyline from across the St. Joseph River
Flag of South Bend, Indiana
Official seal of South Bend, Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Country United States
State Indiana
County St. Joseph
Incorporated (City) 1865
 • Type Strong Mayor-Council
 • City 41.88 sq mi (108.47 km2)
 • Land 41.46 sq mi (107.38 km2)
 • Water 0.42 sq mi (1.09 km2)
692 ft (211 m)
 • City 101,168
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,440.1/sq mi (942.1/km2)
 • Metro
318,586 (US: 152nd)
 • CSA
721,296 (US: 65th)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
46601, 46604, 46612-46617, 46619, 46620, 46624, 46626, 46628, 46629, 46634, 46635, 46637, 46660, 46680, 46699
Area code(s) 574
FIPS code 18-71000
GNIS feature ID 452796
Interstates I-80.svg I-90.svg
U.S. Routes US 20.svg US 31.svg
Major State Routes Indiana 2.svg Indiana 23.svg Indiana 933.svg
Waterways St. Joseph River
Airports South Bend International Airport
Public transit South Bend TRANSPO

South Bend is a city in and the county seat of St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total of 101,168 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 318,586 and Combined Statistical Area of 721,296. It is the fourth-largest city in Indiana, serving as the economic and cultural hub of Northern Indiana. The highly ranked University of Notre Dame is located just to the north in unincorporated Notre Dame, Indiana and is an integral contributor to the region's economy.

The area was originally settled in the early 19th century by fur traders and was established as a city in 1865. The St. Joseph River shaped South Bend's economy through the mid-20th century. River access assisted heavy industrial development such as that of the Studebaker Corporation, the Oliver Chilled Plow Company, and other large corporations.

The population of South Bend declined after 1960, when it had a peak population of 132,445. This was chiefly due to migration to suburban areas as well as the demise of Studebaker and other heavy industry. Today, the largest industries in South Bend are health care, education, small business, and tourism. Remaining large corporations include Crowe Horwath, Honeywell, and AM General.

Recently, the city population has started to grow for the first time in nearly fifty years. The old Studebaker plant and surrounding area, now called Ignition Park, is being redeveloped as a technology center to attract new industry.

The city has also been featured in national news coverage for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has achieved recognition for his various economic development projects within the city, his position as the youngest mayor to be elected in a city of more than 100,000 residents, and his essay in which he came out as the first openly gay executive in the state of Indiana.


Early history

The St. Joseph Valley was long occupied by Native Americans. One of the earliest known groups to occupy what would later become northern Indiana was the Miami tribe. Later, the Potawatomi moved into the region, utilizing the rich food and natural resources found along the river. The Potawatomi occupied this region of Indiana until most of them were forcibly removed in the 1840s. The South Bend area was so popular because its portage was the shortest overland route from the St. Joseph River to the Kankakee River. This route was used for centuries, first by the Native Americans, then by French explorers, missionaries and traders. The French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first white European to set foot in what is now South Bend, used this portage between the St. Joseph River and the Kankakee River in December 1679.

First settlements

The first permanent white settlers of South Bend were fur traders who established trading posts in the area. In 1820, Pierre Frieschutz Navarre arrived, representing the American Fur Company (AFC) of John Jacob Astor. He settled near what is now downtown South Bend. Alexis Coquillard, another agent of the AFC, established a trading post known as the Big St. Joseph Station. In 1827, Lathrop Minor Taylor established a post for Samuel Hanna and Company, in whose records the name St. Joseph's, Indiana was used. By 1829, the town was growing, with Coquillard and Taylor emerging as leaders. They applied for a post office. Taylor was appointed postmaster, and the post office was designated as Southold, Allen County, Indiana. The following year, the name was changed to South Bend, probably to ease confusion, as several other communities were named Southold at the time.

In 1831, South Bend was laid out as the county seat and as one of the four original townships of St. Joseph County with 128 residents. Soon after, design began on what would become the town of South Bend. The town was formally established in 1835 and rapidly grew. In 1856, attorney Andrew Anderson founded May Oberfell Lorber, the oldest business in St. Joseph County. He compiled a complete index of South Bend's real estate records.

Alexis Coquillard

In 1841, Schuyler Colfax was appointed St. Joseph County deputy auditor. Colfax purchased the South Bend Free Press and then turned it into the pro-Whig newspaper, the St. Joseph Valley Register. He was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1850 where he opposed the barring of African American migration to Indiana. He joined the Republican party, like many Whigs of his day, and was elected to Congress in 1855 and became Speaker of the House in 1863 under Abraham Lincoln. In 1868, he was elected Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant. Colfax returned to South Bend after his stint in Washington and was buried in the City Cemetery.

Early business

During the late 1830s through the 1850s, much of South Bend's development centered on the industrial complex of factories located on the two races (man-made canals along the St. Joseph River in South Bend). Several dams were created, and factories were built on each side of the river. On October 4, 1851, the first steam locomotive entered South Bend. This led to a general shift of businesses from the river toward the railroad. In 1852, Henry Studebaker set up Studebaker wagon shop, later becoming the world's largest wagon builder and the only one to later succeed as an automobile manufacturer. The Singer Sewing Company and the Oliver Chilled Plow Company were among other companies that made manufacturing the driving force in the South Bend economy until the mid-20th century. Another important economic act was the dredging of the Kankakee River in 1884 to create farmland. During this time period there was a great immigration of Europeans, such as Polish, Hungarian, Irish, German, Italian, and Swedish people to South Bend because the rise of area factories.

South Bend in 1866

South Bend benefited from its location on the Michigan Road, the main north–south artery of northern Indiana in the 19th century. Another significant development occurred near South Bend in 1842, when Father Edward Sorin founded the University of Notre Dame just north of the town. It became a major factor in the area's economy and culture.

Establishment and early history

On May 22, 1865, South Bend was incorporated as a city, and its first elections were held on June 5, 1865, with William G.George elected as its first mayor

Olivet AME was founded in South Bend in March 1870, making it the first African-American church in the city. Olivet AME is still an active African Methodist Episcopal Church, and celebrated its 145th anniversary in 2015.

A sergeant from South Bend fired the first American shells against Germany in World War I.

Later business

Other industries developed in South Bend in the early 20th century, including Birdsell Manufacturing Company, the Bendix Corporation, Honeywell, AlliedSignal, South Bend Lathe Works, the O'Brien Paint Corp., the South Bend Toy Company, South Bend Range, South Bend Bait Company, and South Bend Watch Company. Workers at the Bendix Corporation actually staged the first sit-in strike in American history in 1936. Fast development led to the creation of electric rail transportation throughout the area and, in 1925, the South Shore interurban streetcar service was established from downtown South Bend to downtown Chicago. South Bend was the first community in the United States to have an electrified trolley system (even though it was a few years before it was usable and profitable).

On June 30, 1934, the Merchants National Bank in South Bend was the last bank to be robbed by the notorious "Dillinger gang".

South Bend, World Famed
This 1922 pamphlet demonstrates the visions of progress and global importance nurtured by the early period of industrialization in South Bend.

Recent history

In 1949, legendary percussionist Lionel Hampton was informed that his concert at South Bend's Palais du Royale would be a blacks only event; he threatened to call for a boycott of the venue, and the affair proceeded as an integrated evening, which newspapers said led to all attendees breaking out in "paroxysms of ecstasy."

By 1950, more than half of all employment was in the manufacturing sector. Due to economic difficulties, Studebaker closed its automotive manufacturing plants in South Bend in December 1963. A general decline in manufacturing soon followed as industry was being restructured nationwide. By the year 2000, manufacturing was only 16 percent of the local economy. Due to the severe loss of jobs, the city's population decreased by nearly 30,000 people during that period.

In 1984, South Bend community leaders began seeking a minor-league baseball team for the city. A stadium was constructed in 1986 and a 10-year player-development contract was signed with the Chicago White Sox. The team would be known as the South Bend White Sox. In 1994, the team's name was changed to the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Silver Hawks changed their name to The South Bend Cubs in 2015. They are a Class A minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Midwest League.

In 2015, the City of South Bend celebrated its 150th birthday. The celebration, lasting a year long, culminated with a celebration along the St. Joseph River with the lighting of the first River Lights. Mayor Pete Buttigieg welcomed the coming of the next 150 years of South Bend's heritage accompanied by five previous South Bend mayors: Steve Luecke, Joe Kernan, Roger Parent, Peter Nemeth and Jerry Miller.

As of 2015, the city began seeing modest population growth of 286 for the first time in nearly fifty years. The old Studebaker plant in South Bend is currently a new tech center, as the city is trying to attract the new industry. The area where the plants were abandoned is now called Ignition Park and is attracting new businesses.


Downtown South Bend from South East
An Aerial photo of Downtown South Bend

South Bend is located at 41°40′21″N 86°15′19″W / 41.67250°N 86.25528°W / 41.67250; -86.25528 (41.672597, −86.255157), 5 mi (8.0 km) from the Michigan border and approximately equidistant from Illinois and Ohio. The city is 93 mi (150 km) from Chicago. The nearest shore of Lake Michigan is 20 mi (32 km) away.

According to the 2010 census, South Bend has a total area of 41.877 square miles (108.46 km2), of which 41.46 square miles (107.38 km2) (or 99%) is land and 0.417 square miles (1.08 km2) (or 1%) is water.


The St. Joseph River flows from the east end of the city turning north near the city center, giving South Bend its name at the bend in the river. South Bend is located on the North-South continental divide, and the river flows northwest into Lake Michigan. The downtown area is located in the north-central part of the city along the St. Joseph River. Notre Dame, Indiana, is directly adjacent to the north. The city extends further north on the west side, mainly with manufacturing and distribution facilities near the South Bend International Airport. Mishawaka, Indiana, is adjacent to South Bend's east side.


South Bend has a humid continental climate, with a Köppen climate classification of Dfa. Lake Michigan exerts a great influence on the climate of South Bend, including lake effect snow in winter and a tendency to moderate temperatures year round. June through August are the warmest months, with average temperatures above 69 °F (21 °C). Normally, 42 days with thunderstorms occur each year. The snowiest month is usually January, with snowfall normally recorded from October through April. On average, South Bend receives 81.8 inches (208 cm) of snow per year. Spring and fall can be mild and overcast, but also severely stormy at times with 293 partly cloudy to cloudy days each year.

Climate data for South Bend, Indiana (South Bend Regional Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 31.8
Average low °F (°C) 17.9
Record low °F (°C) −22
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.28
Snowfall inches (cm) 21.6
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 15.7 11.8 12.7 13.2 12.3 10.3 9.5 9.9 9.9 10.9 13.4 15.8 145.4
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 13.1 9.2 5.3 1.7 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.4 3.6 10.9 44.3
Source #1: The Weather Channel (extremes)
Source #2: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,652
1860 3,832 132.0%
1870 7,206 88.0%
1880 13,280 84.3%
1890 21,819 64.3%
1900 35,999 65.0%
1910 53,684 49.1%
1920 70,983 32.2%
1930 104,193 46.8%
1940 101,268 −2.8%
1950 115,911 14.5%
1960 132,445 14.3%
1970 125,850 −5.0%
1980 109,727 −12.8%
1990 105,511 −3.8%
2000 107,789 2.2%
2010 101,166 −6.1%
2015 (est.) 101,516 0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 101,168 people, 39,760 households, and 23,526 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,440.1 inhabitants per square mile (942.1/km2). There were 46,324 housing units at an average density of 1,117.3 per square mile (431.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 60.5% White, 26.6% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.9% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.0% of the population.

There were 39,760 households of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 18.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.8% were non-families. 33.3% Of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.19.

The median age in the city was 33.3 years. 27.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 10% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.1% were from 25 to 44; 23.1% were from 45 to 64; and 12.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.


Per the 2013 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the following ancestries were reported: African-American - 26%, German - 14.8%, Irish - 10.4%, Polish - 8.2%, English - 5.0%, American - 3.3%, Italian - 2.6%, Hungarian - 2.4%, French - 2.0%, Dutch - 1.4%, Swedish - 1.1%, Belgian - 0.9%.

Arts and culture


South Bend was influenced by a large influx of Polish Catholic immigrants in the late 19th century. Dyngus Day is widely celebrated on the Monday after Easter and is the beginning of the city elections campaign season. Fat Tuesday is also celebrated in South Bend, with paczkis being a staple food product in the city for the day. The city and surrounding county have 23 Catholic churches, 11 Catholic schools and three Catholic universities (the University of Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, and Saint Mary's College, all located in the adjacent city of Notre Dame).

Music festivals

Interstate Traffic SBSB
Local band Interstate Traffic performing at South by South Bend

The city has several annual festivals. The South Bend International Festival began ten years ago as the South Bend Reggae Festival and now features local and international musical artists who perform in African, Latino, and American cultural styles. Proceeds from the festival are given to the Pangani Foundation of South Bend, which provides medical supplies to hospitals in Malawi.

WBYT FM - B100 (Country Station) hosts an Annual All Day Country Concert, with over 37,000 free tickets in early September.

The World Pulse Festival, broadcast by LeSEA Broadcasting network, is held annually in South Bend. It is hosted by Pulse FM, a local Christian music radio station. The event is an annual Contemporary Christian music festival, attracting more than 50,000 visitors each year.

In 2013, a new annual festival began in South Bend called South by South Bend, named after the famous South By Southwest of Austin, TX. The festival is a celebration of the local music scene, with local bands and artists performing on the park grounds and other public venues around the city. The goals of the festival include strengthening the bond between the communities of South Bend and Notre Dame, supporting local artistic expression, and promoting local business. In 2015, the festival was renamed Sounds by South Bend, to avoid confusion with the Austin festival and more accurately represent the purpose of the event.

Museums, arts and entertainment

The South Bend Museum of Art is located in Century Center in downtown South Bend. The museum was opened to the public in March 1996, and features a variety of artists from South Bend and the Michiana region. Currently, over 850 works are featured in the permanent collection. The museum also offers several classes and workshops for adults and children.

The History Museum

The History Museum is the public name of the Northern Indiana Historical Society, the second-oldest historical society in Indiana, which was established in 1867 to collect and interpret the history of the northern Indiana region by St. Joseph County's leading citizens. The Oliver Mansion (also known by its original name, Copshaholm) is one of the central features of the museum. The 38-room mansion was built in 1895 and is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The home was built by Joseph Doty Oliver, the son of James Oliver, the founder of the Oliver Farm Equipment Company, once the largest plow manufacturer in the United States. In addition to the Oliver Mansion and the Workers Home (a 1920s Polish-American family home), and museum includes areas dedicated to the history of the St. Joseph River Valley, the University of Notre Dame, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and the Kidsfirst Children's Museum.

Palace Theater, Morris Performing Arts Center, in South Bend
Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend

Studebaker National Museum

The Studebaker National Museum holds a large collection of wagons and automobiles from the 150-year history of the Studebaker Corporation. The museum began as a collection of wagons and automobiles produced by Studebaker, including the presidential carriages of Lincoln, McKinley, Harrison, and Grant. The company donated the collection to the city of South Bend in 1966. The collection was housed in various locations from Century Center to its current location in downtown South Bend, adjacent to The History Museum. The two museums share one campus, and together form The Museums at Washington and Chapin. The former South Bend mansion of Clement Studebaker, named Tippecanoe Place, is now a restaurant.

Theatric buildings

The Morris Performing Arts Center, built in 1922, included the Palace Theater, a venue for vaudeville. The theatre's heyday was in 1940 with the premiere of Knute Rockne, All American, starring Ronald Reagan. A crowd estimated at 24,000 gathered outside. The theater was scheduled for demolition in 1959, when E. M. Morris purchased the facility and sold it to the city for one dollar, after which it was renamed the Morris Civic Auditorium. A total renovation was completed in 2000. The Morris Performing Arts Center also includes the Palais Royale Ballroom, on which restoration was recently completed. The center houses the Broadway Theater League and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra's Shanghai-born conductor, Tsung Yeh, was the first conductor ever to hold music directorships of both a western symphony orchestra and a major Chinese orchestra. Marian High School holds its graduation ceremony at the theater.

South Bend is also home to The South Bend Hot Patooties, a group that performs a shadowcast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The group has performed at various South Bend venues including the State Theater, Legends of Notre Dame, The Potawatomi Conservatories, and the historic Birdsell Mansion.

The South Bend Civic Theatre, founded in 1957, was for many years located at The Firehouse, 701 Portage Avenue. In 2007, a new theatre opened at 403 North Main Street, in what was formerly the Scottish Rite Building. The new facility includes a 209-seat main-stage auditorium and a 90-seat "black-box" studio theatre. The South Bend Civic Theatre produces more than a dozen plays per year, including several productions in its Family Series.


The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association, sponsor of the world's largest chamber music competition, was founded in South Bend in 1973. The annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition is held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Schuyler Colfax, the 17th Vice President of the United States, is interred in South Bend City Cemetery.

Parks and recreation

Rafters enjoying the East Race in South Bend, Indiana

The Potawatomi Zoo opened in 1902 and is the oldest in the state. It was founded in Leeper Park and was moved to its current location in Potawatomi Park in 1912. It features more than 400 animals in its 23 acres (93,000 m2). The zoo is run by the South Bend Parks and Recreation Department. Along with the zoo, the South Bend Parks and Recreation department operates over 50 parks, golf courses, and recreational areas throughout the city. Notable parks include Rum Village Park, which has a disc golf course, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, and a nature center, and Potawatomi Park, which has the region's largest Universally Accessible Playground and an outdoors Performance Arts Pavilion and viewing area.

Near the Potawatomi Zoo are the Potawatomi Greenhouses and the Ella Morris and Muessel-Ellison Botanical Conservatories. The greenhouses were originally constructed in the 1920s, with the conservatories added in the 1960s. In 2007, the greenhouses and conservatories were in danger of closing due to increased operating costs, but a campaign by the Botanical Society of South Bend was able to raise funds to keep the facilities operating.

The city is home to the East Race Waterway, which is used for boating and water sports (see above).

While developing the 2006 City Plan, the city's 20-year comprehensive plan, citizens said the encouragement of bicycling as a form of alternative transportation was a top priority. In 2010, South Bend became one of 303 communities in the United States to be recognized as a "Bicycle-Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists due to the city's "remarkable commitments to bicycling. The city has developed a long-term plan for building a 116-mile South Bend Bikeway network. As of late 2014, 66.8 miles of bicycle routes have been established: 17.4 miles of multipurpose paths separated from streets, 17.0 miles of striped bike lanes, and 32.4 other designated on-street routes. The area is also served by the St. Joseph County Parks Dept, which maintains eight different parks and recreation areas. The Parks department serves the metro area and is headed by a permanent staff (Director- Evie Kirkwood) and an appointed Board (Larry Catanzarite - President)

Places of worship

South Bend is home to over 100 places of worship, including mostly Christian churches, three synagogues, and one mosque.

Christian churches

*Calvary Baptist Church
  • Cathedral of St. James (Episcopal)
  • Christ the King Catholic Church
  • Christ the King Lutheran Church (ELCA)
  • Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal)
  • Clay Church (United Methodist)
  • Community Baptist Church
  • Community Congregational Church
  • Corpus Christi Catholic Community
  • Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS)
  • Evangel Heights United Methodist Church
  • Faith Apostolic Ministries
  • Fellowship Baptist Church
  • First Baptist Church South Bend
  • First Church of Christ, Scientist
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • First Unitarian Church of South Bend
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (ELCA)
  • The Grace Place
  • Grace United Methodist Church
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Holy Family Catholic Church
  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA)
  • New Life Assembly of God
  • Oak Tree Community Church Baptist
  • Our Lady of Hungary Catholic Church
  • Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS)
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
  • Southlawn United Methodist Church
  • St. Adalbert Catholic Church
  • St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church
  • St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church
  • St. Augustine Catholic Church
  • St. Casimir Catholic Church
  • St. Hedwig Catholic Church
  • St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
  • St. Joseph Catholic Church
  • St. Jude Catholic Church
  • St. Mary National Catholic Church
  • St. Matthew Cathedral (Catholic)
  • St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
  • St. Nectarios Orthodox Church (ROCOS)
  • St. Patrick Catholic Church
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church (LCMS)
  • St. Paul's Memorial United Methodist Church
  • Sts. Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church
  • St. Peter's United Church of Christ
  • St. Stanislaus Catholic Church
  • St. Thérèse, Little Flower Catholic Church
  • South Bend First Church of the Nazarene
  • South Side Baptist Church
  • Southgate Church (Assemblies of God)
  • Zion United Church of Christ

Non-Christian places of worship

  • Hebrew Orthodox Congregation
  • Islamic Society of Michiana
  • Sinai Synagogue (Conservative Judaism)
  • Temple Beth-El (Reform Judaism)

Former places of worship

Sister cities

South Bend has three sister cities:

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