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Valparaiso, Indiana facts for kids

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City of Valparaiso, Indiana
Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso
Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso
Flag of Valparaiso
Official seal of Valparaiso
"Vale of Paradise"
Location of Valparaiso in Porter County, Indiana.
Location of Valparaiso in Porter County, Indiana.
Country United States
State Indiana
County Porter
Township Center
Incorporated July 8, 1836
Named for Valparaiso, Chile
 • Total 16.43 sq mi (42.57 km2)
 • Land 16.39 sq mi (42.44 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.12 km2)  0.32%
794 ft (242 m)
 • Total 34,151
 • Density 2,084.16/sq mi (804.68/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 219
FIPS code 18-78326
GNIS feature ID 449849

Valparaiso ( vahl-pə-RAY-zoh), colloquially Valpo, is a city and the county seat of Porter County, Indiana, United States. The population was 34,151 at the 2020 census.


The site of present-day Valparaiso was included in the purchase of land from the Potawatomi people by the U.S. Government in October 1832. Chiqua's town or Chipuaw 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. The location is just north of the railroad crossing on State Route 2 and County Road 400 North.

Located on the ancient Naive American trail from Rock Island to Detroit, the town had its first log cabin in 1834. Established in 1836 as Portersville, county seat of Porter County, it was renamed to Valparaiso (meaning "Vale of Paradise" in Old 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. 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, Valparaiso has a total area of 15.578 square miles (40.35 km2), of which 15.53 square miles (40.22 km2) (or 99.69%) is land and 0.048 square miles (0.12 km2) (or 0.31%) is water.


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, Porter County Regional Airport, Indiana (1981-2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 31.1
Average low °F (°C) 16.1
Record low °F (°C) −26
Average rainfall inches (mm) 1.75
Average snowfall inches (cm) 8.8
Source 1: NOAA 1981-2010 normals, snowfall 1971-2000
Source 2: The Weather Channel (records),


Historical population
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%
2020 34,151 7.6%
Source: US Census Bureau

2010 census

As of the census 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.


  • 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.

Live theater

  • Chicago Street Theatre, run by the local Community Theater Guild.
  • 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.


Parks and recreation

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


Valparaiso Indiana Fairground Park 37
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.

Valparaiso Indiana Valplayso Glenrose North 07

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.

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

Valpo 08 Popcorn
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.

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.

Buildings and districts on the NRHP


Higher education

Valparaiso is also home to namesake Valparaiso University, occupying 310 acres (130 ha) 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.

In addition to VU, Ivy Tech operates one of its 23 regional campuses in the city. From 2006 until 2016, Purdue University North Central had a two-building satellite campus in Valparaiso.

Primary and secondary education

  • Public schools
    Valparaiso Public School District
    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
      • Heavilin 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
    • Victory Christian Academy

Public library

Valparaiso has a public library, a branch of the Porter County Public Library System.


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. 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.

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 through 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.

On October 6, 2008, Valparaiso inaugurated an express bus service to and from Chicago, Illinois called ChicaGo DASH. Buses depart Valparaiso on weekday mornings and return from Chicago in the evenings.

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.

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.

Notable people

  • Newton Arvin, literary critic
  • John L. Bascom, politician
  • Harry Benham, actor
  • Beulah Bondi, actress
  • Mary Blatchley Briggs (1846– 1910), writer and women's organizer
  • Kevin L. Brown, former Major League Baseball (MLB) player
  • Mark N. Brown, astronaut
  • Josephine Cochrane, invented and patented the modern dishwasher
  • Bryce Drew, professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA), 1998–2004; head coach for Vanderbilt University men's basketball team since 2016
  • Michael Essany, reality television talk show host and author
  • Gina Fattore, producer and writer of Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls, Parenthood and showrunner of Dare Me
  • Chris Funk, guitarist for The Decemberists
  • Henry C. Gordon, astronaut
  • Mark A. Heckler, 18th president of Valparaiso University
  • Robbie Hummel, professional basketball player in the NBA since 2012
  • Samuel Austin Kendall, politician
  • Mike Kellogg, retired Moody Radio announcer
  • Hub Knolls, former pitcher in Major League Baseball
  • Heather Kuzmich, 4th runner-up of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 9
  • Earl F. Landgrebe, politician, staunch defender of Richard Nixon
  • Charles F. Lembke, architect and contractor. He built many downtown area buildings, such as the Memorial Opera House, Carnegie public Library, Hotel Lembke, and several local schools. .
  • David E. Lilienthal, politician
  • Orville Redenbacher, hybrid popcorn developer
  • Sean Manaea, professional baseball player in MLB
  • Jeff Samardzija, professional baseball player in MLB
  • Carly Schroeder, actress
  • Walter Wangerin, Jr., author and professor at Valparaiso University
  • R. Harold Zook, architect

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Valparaíso (Indiana) para niños

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