|City of Terre Haute, Indiana|
|— City —|
Downtown Terre Haute, looking southwest
Location in the state of Indiana
|- Mayor||Duke Bennett (R) |
|- Total||32.1 sq mi (83.1 km2)|
|- Land||31.2 sq mi (80.9 km2)|
|- Water||0.9 sq mi (2.2 km2)|
|Elevation||499 ft (152 m)|
|- Density||1,908.3/sq mi (736.8/km2)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|- Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0444648|
Terre Haute (pronounced /ˌtɛrə ˈhoʊt/) is a city in Vigo County, Indiana near the state's western border with Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 59,614 and its metropolitan area had a population of 170,943. The city is the county seat of Vigo County and the self-proclaimed capital of the Wabash Valley. The federal death row is in Terre Haute at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.1 square miles (83.1 km²), of which, 31.2 square miles (80.9 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.2 km²) of it (2.68%) is water.
The physical geography of the city is dominated by the Wabash River, which forms the western border of the city. Small bluffs on the east side of city mark the edge of the historic flood plain. Lost Creek and Honey Creek drain the northern and southern sections of the city, respectively. In the late 1800s (particularly during the Terre Haute Oil Craze of 1889), several oil and mineral wells were productive in and near the center of the city. Those have not been tapped for many years.
Terre Haute is located at the intersection of two major roadways: the National Road from California to Maryland, and U.S. 41 from Michigan to Florida (locally named "3rd Street"). Terre Haute is located 77 miles (124 km) southwest of Indianapolis and within 185 miles (298 km) of Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.
When Interstate 70 was built in the early 1970s, the community's major shopping area became centered near the interchange south of the city. U.S. 40 still runs through the downtown area as of 2005. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) plans to transfer the route number to State Road 46 and Interstate 70 through the Terre Haute area once the new State Road 641 bypass is completed. The old US 40, known as Wabash Avenue, will be transferred to city and county control.
The name of the city is derived from the French phrase terre haute (pronounced [tɛʁ ot] in French), meaning "high land". It was named by French explorers in the area in the early 18th century to describe the plateau-like rise of land next to the Wabash River (see French colonization of the Americas). When the area was claimed by the French and English, these highlands were considered the border between Canada and Louisiana.
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. Captain Zachary Taylor defended the fort from a British–inspired attack by an estimated 600 Native Americans during the Battle of Fort Harrison on September 4, 1812. The orchards and meadows kept by the local Wea populations became the site of present–day Terre Haute, a few miles south of Fort Harrison. Before 1830, the few remaining Wea had departed under pressure from white settlement.
The village of Terre Haute, then a part of Knox County, Indiana, was platted in 1816. Its early identity was as an agricultural and pork-packing center and as a port on the then-navigable Wabash River for steamboats and other river-craft. Between 1835 and late 1839, Terre Haute served as the headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Major Cornelius A. Ogden during the construction of the National Road. As a result, a number of West Point graduates and other highly educated people located in the town. Wealthy Terre Haute entrepreneur Chauncey Rose built The Prairie House, a fancy hotel, in 1838 primarily to accommodate those families. In 1855, the name of The Prairie House was changed to the Terre Haute House.
Development in anticipation of completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal, the longest manmade body of water in the western hemisphere, also brought prosperity to the community. The canal finally reached Terre Haute in October 1849. Founded by Chauncey Rose, the Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad began operations between Terre Haute and Indianapolis in February 1852 and its traffic soon surpassed that on the canal. The name of the Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad (West of Indianapolis) soon was changed to the Terre Haute and Indianapolis Railroad. It became the operating company of the Vandalia Railroad System. The community quickly gained the reputation as a transportation hub.
In 1832, Terre Haute became a town and, in May 1853, elected to become a city. After the American Civil War, it developed into an industrial and mining center, with iron and steel mills, hominy plants and, late in the 19th century, distilleries, breweries, coal mines and coal operating companies. Business boomed.
Terre Haute's Famous "Four-Cornered" Race Track was the site of more than 20 world harness racing records and helped trigger the city's reputation as a sporting center. The bustling economy also led to establishing several institutes of higher education: Saint Mary-of-the Woods Institute (now Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College), John Covert's Terre Haute Female College, Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University), Terre Haute School of Industrial Science (now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Coates College for Women. The city developed culture and a reputation in the arts. As a base of industry, it also developed a strong tradition of union activity, which resulted in hosting a two-day conclave beginning on August 3, 1881, of the National Trade Union Congress, renamed the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the U.S. and Canada. In 1886, the Federation was renamed the American Federation of Labor. The city also produced labor leader Eugene V. Debs.
The city's river traffic contributed to its reputation for being "wide open", with gambling and a well-developed "red light district". The latter was not fully eliminated until urban renewal of the riverfront in the 1960s. During the second decade of the 20th century, Terre Haute was rocked by political scandal and that reputation persisted for several decades. In 1955, Terre Haute was labeled Sin City by the monthly magazine Stag.
Prohibition had a major adverse impact on the city's economy. It forced the closure of several distilleries and all but one brewery, which reduced its payroll by 70% and converted to produce root beer. Four large glass manufacturing firms drastically reduced production, and two eventually closed. The Root Glass Company survived, primarily because it had secured the patent for the Coca-Cola bottle in 1915. Two of the distilleries were sold to Commercial Solvents Corporation, which acquired the rights to produce acetone from Chaim Weizmann in exchange for royalties.
With some aspects of the economy booming in the mid-1920s, the owners of the Terre Haute House decided to demolish their older building and erect a grand edifice befitting such a modern city as Terre Haute. In 1928, the new Terre Haute House opened, attracting the wealthy – famous and infamous alike – to its luxurious splendor. Al Capone is rumored to have been a guest in the new hotel's early years. After closing in 1970, the structure remained nonoperational for 35 years until 2005 when it was sold to a local developer. He demolished it and two other properties on the same block and sold the property to Dora Brothers Hospitality for development of a Hilton Garden Inn.
The current Mayor is Duke Bennett, a Republican (the first Republican mayor of Terre Haute in over 35 years). During the second decade of the 20th century, Terre Haute was rocked by political scandal and that reputation persisted for several decades. Businessman Kevin Burke was elected the city’s Mayor in 2003 and vowed to make cleaning up the city’s image and notorious smell one of his administration’s top priorities. The offensive odors that plagued the city were primarily emitted from a coal tar creosote railroad tie manufacturing facility, a waste water treatment facility, and a paper plant. To date, the odor has been drastically reduced.
Duke Bennett was elected Mayor in late 2007, but Bennett's election was subsequently challenged by the losing incumbent, Kevin Burke, based on an alleged violation of the "Little Hatch Act" by Bennett (the violation of which would have made Bennett ineligible for office). Former Mayor Burke filed suit, and following a bench trial, the trial court rejected Burke's challenge and declared Bennett elected as the qualified candidate who received the highest number of votes. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new election. The Indiana Supreme Court, on June 16, 2009, unanimously affirmed the trial court's confirmation of Bennett's election as Mayor. Former Mayor Burke stated that he would not appeal the decision further to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The City Council has six members each representing a district and three members-at-large. The National Arbor Day Foundation has designated Terre Haute a "Tree City." The city is also home to a federally-sponsored AmeriCorps program called the Sycamore Service Corps.
Terre Haute is the location of the federal death row. Inmates are held at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex. Located on Highway 63, two miles (3 km) south of the city of Terre Haute, the complex includes the medium security Federal Correctional Institution and the high security United States Penitentiary. The penitentiary houses the Special Confinement Unit for inmates serving federal death sentences.
As of the census of 2000, there were 59,614 people, 22,870 households, and 13,025 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,908.3 people per square mile (736.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 86.3% White, 9.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 1.6% 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.
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, 17.4% of those under the age of 18 and 11.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Terre Haute entered a period of economic decline once the coal mines were spent and the importance of the railroads diminished. The town was labeled a "bad labor town" following the Terre Haute General Strike of 1935 and the city center began a decline from which it has never fully recovered. Although some remnants of its glory days remain and Terre Haute is home to some national events, The Indianapolis Star recently called it "A Model of Stagnation." A reputation the city has tried very hard recently to shed.
In addition to the downtown business district and the south side, there are several 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-World War II era, auto-centered shopping developed on the east side at Meadows. Plaza North is another important shopping area in the northern city neighborhoods.
The original curved Coca-Cola bottle was designed and first produced by the Root Glass Company, which was based in Terre Haute. In the mid-1990s, Coca-Cola honored this part of its past by introducing a short-lived Coke bottle-shaped can that was sold only in Terre Haute and one other city. Terre Haute was also one of the primary test markets for Pringles Potato Chips. The city is a familiar address to many, as it is home to the Columbia House mail-order club. It also is the home of the largest disc production facility in the United States, Sony DADC, which was the first facility in the United States to manufacture Compact Discs.
Terre Haute is served by the Vigo County School Corporation. McLean Education Center is located on Lafayette Avenue and serves 200-300 students.
Terre Haute is home to Indiana State University (ISU). Indiana State has a student population of approximately 10,500. The Princeton Review has named ISU one of the nation’s “best value” undergraduate institutions. The Princeton Review has also placed ISU on its “Best in the Midwest” list of colleges and universities. The private engineering school Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is located just east of the city, and is consistently rated as the top undergraduate engineering school in the nation. The vocational schools Ivy Tech State College and Harrison College are also located in the city. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a four-year, private Roman Catholic primarily women's college, is north of West Terre Haute, Indiana.
The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course has the distinction of being one of the few purpose-built cross-country courses in the world. The facility is part of 240 acres (0.97 km2) that comprise the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center east of Terre Haute. The course itself is built on a reclaimed coal mine and consists of an external loop of 3 km and four internal loops that allow for circuits of varying lengths. Indiana State University's Cross-Country team uses the Gibson Course for its home meets.
The Vigo County Historical Society Museum, at the intersection of Washington Avenue and South Sixth Street, boasts an extraordinary collection of artifacts maintained in a 150+-year old former residence and the Children's Museum in downtown Terre Haute are other community assets.
The Swope Art Museum, opened and free to the public since 1942, boasts a nationally recognized collection of American art including work by Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Janet Scudder, Andy Warhol, Ruth Pratt Bobbs, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg and many others.
The Turman Art Gallery at Indiana State University features rotating exhibitions by student and faculty artists. In 2007, the university was the recipient of nearly 150 Andy Warhol photographs and prints as part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. These recent additions will be added to the other Andy Warhol prints already held in the university's permanent collection.
Frank Sinatra movie Some Came Running refers to Terre Haute several times. After Frank Sinatra (Dave Hirsh) and Shirley MacLaine's (Ginnie Moorehead) characters are engaged Ginnie asks "Dave, can we please go to Terre Haute for our honeymoon?"
The novel "Being and Nothingness: An Historical Mystery," by Luke Hauser, takes place in Terre Haute. The city is described as the "epicenter of Western Philosophy," and features a "Latin Quarter" and waterfront gambling casinos.
Terre Haute was the target of the dastardly plot by Nazi stooges in the 1982 spoof noir movie Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. Terre Haute's "role" in the movie was the contribution of actor/comedian Steve Martin, the star and co-writer of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. Steve Martin had visited Terre Haute and performed his stand-up routine in the city a few years prior to making the movie.
Terre Haute was the original home of Cissy, Jody, and Buffy Davis in the CBS sitcom Family Affair. The characters mispronounced the city's name "Terry Hott." However, the mispronunciation may have been intentional, continuing a long-running "in joke" amongst Terre Hauteans. Due to the town's red light district and less-than-savory areas, from at least the mid-19th century, the name was used in a play on the words "hot" and "hut," Terry Hot, Terry Hut, and Terrible Hut.
In the closing minutes of the Pilot episode of Mr. Belvedere, when the family decides they don't need his services, the youngest child Wesley asks what he will do now. Mr. Belvedere replies "I've always wanted to see Terre Haute, don't ask me why."
Terre Haute was mentioned in the Peter Yates film Breaking Away when the characters were deciding what to do and one asked if they "wanted to go to Terre Haute."
Terre Haute was mentioned in two episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip when the local "NBS" refused to show the skit "Crazy Christians". This was in direct reference to Terre Haute's local NBC affiliate, WTWO, refusing to show "The Book of Daniel".
Terre Haute is mentioned several times in the classic favorite Christmas movie A Christmas Story, 1983; two of them are when the line at the shopping mall to see Santa "stretched all the way to Terre Haute," and when 'The Old Man' Darren McGavin is awaiting 'The Major Award' and says, "it could be an entire bowling alley; last week, some guy in Terre Hut won an entire bowling alley!" A Christmas Story takes place in Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, where the author, Jean Shepherd, of the books on which the movie are based was from. Terre Haute is approximately 150 miles (240 km) due south of Hammond, and US 41 connects the two cities.
In Stephen King's post-apocalyptic horror novel The Stand, Donald Merwin Elbert (aka The Trashcan Man), after committing several arsons due to his pyromania, was sent to a mental institution in Terre Haute before being incarcerated in a separate institution for teenage delinquents. (Father Gibault School for Boys, just south of Terre Haute on US 41, was briefly the home of Charles Manson.) In King's The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, the main protagonists stumble into a parallel-universe version of the post-apocalypse world of The Stand in which all of Terre Haute was burned down.
Terre Haute's history is the subject of a weekly public radio program based in Bloomington, Indiana, called Hometown with Tom Roznowski, which describes various aspects of Terre Haute in the summer of 1926. Terre Haute: Queen City of the Wabash, by Vigo County Historian Mike McCormick, is a concise history of the city published in November 2005 by Arcadia Publishing Company.
On Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, the character of teacher Mrs. Quick identifies Terre Haute as her hometown.
America's Next Top Model: Cycle 4 contestant Michelle Deighton is from Terre Haute.
Terre Haute was mentioned in the NBC series Parks and Recreation as the origin city of the founder of the town where the show takes place.
Terre Haute is mentioned in T.S. Eliot's French poem "Lune de Miel".
Terre Haute is mentioned in I Love Lucy "Lucy meets Superman". Lucy tries to get Superman to come to little Ricky's birthday party. Ricky calls Lucy and says "I talked to his secretary and he is leaving Saturday for Terre Hoot." Lucy responds "Terre Hoot?" Ricky replies "Yes, Terre Hoot, Terre Hoot, Indiana."
In the Blues Brothers film, Matt "Guitar" Murphy mentions spending time in the Terre Haute Federal Pen.
One well known Terre Haute legend is the story of Stiffy Green, a stone bulldog that allegedly at one time guarded the mausoleum of florist John G. Heinl, the brother-in-law of Eugene V. Debs and the father of esteemed journalist Robert Debs Heinl.