Terre Haute, Indiana

From Academic Kids

Terre Haute is a city located in Vigo County, Indiana. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 59,614. It is located at latitude 39°28' North, longitude 87°23' West. The city is the county seat of Vigo CountyTemplate:GR. Terre Haute's air quality is often poor, due to the presence of a large nearby paper mill. Locals are often referred to, by college students, as 'Hautians'.

The ZIP Code for Terre Haute is 478xx.



Terre Haute is located at 39°28'11" North, 87°23'23" West (39.469586, -87.389762)Template:GR, alongside the Wabash River in western Indiana.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 83.1 km² (32.1 mi²). 80.9 km² (31.2 mi²) of it is land and 2.2 km² (0.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.68% water.

The city of Terre Haute is called "The Crossroads of America" because it was at one point located on the intersection of the two major roadways: the National Road and U.S. 41 (the "Dixie Bee Highway"). In the early 1970s, Interstate 70 was built, and the majore shopping area moved south to the interchange. U.S. 40 still runs through the downtown area.

In addition to the downtown business district and the South End, there are several other smaller business districts in the City. The first suburban shopping area was Twelve Points, on the northeast side of town; later, Idaho Station developed near Seventh Street and Lockport Road. In the post-WWII era, auto-centered shopping developed on the east side at Meadows. Plaza North is another important shopping area in the northern city neighborhoods.

The physical geography of the city is dominated by the Wabash River, which forms the western border of the city. The city itself lies on a high, flat plain that rarely floods. Small bluffs like in the east side of the city, marking the edge of the historic flood plain. Lost Creek and Honey Creek drain the northern and southern sections of the city, respectively. In the early 1800s, there were several oil and mineral wells in the center of the city, but those have not been tapped for many years.


The name Terre Haute (pronounced as in English and in French) is a French phrase meaning high land, and was used by the French explorers in the area in the mid 18th century to describe the plateau-like rise of the land next to the Wabash River (See French colonization of the Americas). During "Tecumseh's War" in 1811, the construction of Fort Harrison during an expedition led by William Henry Harrison marked the known beginning of a permanent population of European-Americans — a Wea village called Weautano (also known as "Rising Sun" and "Old Orchard Town") already existed near the fort.

Terre Haute's first success as a city came as a port for steamboats and other river-craft, but was quickly overtaken by the railroads. When coal was discovered, Terre Haute became a mining and industry town and business boomed. This led to institutes of higher education, culture, extremely stong unions (Eugene V. Debs) and to extreme excesses. Terre Haute developed a "Red Light District" where prostitution and gambling ran rampant. Coupled with famously crooked politicians, at the turn of the century Terre Haute was labeled Sin City by the press. Although it's had different nicknames ("The Crossroads of America," for one), it was "Sin City" that stuck.

Eventually the coal mines were spent, the importance of the railroads declined, the town was labeled a "bad labor town" and the city began a rapid decline from which it never fully recovered. Although some remnants of its glory days remain and Terre Haute is home to some national events, it was recently called "A Model of Stagnation" by The Indianapolis Star, a moniker not easily disputed by its citizens and is best known today by the general public for the execution of Timothy McVeigh at the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Historical figures who called Terre Haute their birthplace or home include: author Theodore Dreiser, his brother, songwriter Paul Dresser (On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away), actor Scatman Crothers, baseball pitcher Tommy John, Lawyer-poet Max Ehrman (A Prayer and Desiderata) and socialist leader Eugene V. Debs,Tony Swiger.

Terre Haute's history is the subject of a weekly public radio program based in Bloomington, IN called "Hometown with Tom Roznowski" which describes various aspects of Terre Haute in the summer of 1926.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 59,614 people, 22,870 households, and 13,035 families residing in the city. The population density is 736.8/km² (1,908.4/mi²). There are 25,636 housing units at an average density of 316.8/km² (820.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 86.26% White, 9.77% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.17% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. 1.58% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 22,870 households out of which 27.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% are married couples living together, 14.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 43.0% are non-families. 34.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.28 and the average family size is 2.95.

In the city the population is spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 18.7% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $28,018, and the median income for a family is $37,618. Males have a median income of $29,375 versus $21,374 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,728. 19.2% of the population and 14.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.4% of those under the age of 18 and 11.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Terre Haute is home to Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

External Links

The Town

The History

  • History of Terre Haute (http://web.indstate.edu/community/vchs/thhist.htm): An excerpt from Indiana: A New Historical Guide
  • Rod and Gun Steakhouse (http://rodandgunsteakhouse.com/news7.htm): A gangster hangout in mid-1900's Terre Haute.

College Pages

  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (http://www.rose-hulman.edu/): Consistently named the nation's best undergraduate engineering program (without a Ph.D. option) by U.S. News and World Report.
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