South Bend

Rich in tradition. Rich in history. As you look out at the meandering banks of the St. Joseph River, close your eyes and you can almost imagine the fur traders and Native American people who first inhabited this community more than 175 years ago and the visionaries and entrepreneurs who later left their mark on the very fabric of this community, located in northern Indiana.

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A golden glow illuminates here. The University of Notre Dame, famous for its storied football program and the mystique of its 1,250-acre campus, anchors this community.

Soon however, you’ll discover there is a whole lot more to this community! World-class attractions, culture and arts, eclectic dining, sports and recreation. Plan your next meeting, sporting event, reunion or getaway right here. Big city amenities. Small town charm. Great places to eat, sleep, shop and explore.

We’re easily accessible to the South Bend Regional Airport, Interstate 80/90, US 6, 20, 31 and State Road 2,4,23,104, 331 and 933.

South Bend/Mishawaka ¦ Notre Dame and a Whole Lot More!

South Bend is a city on the St. Joseph river and a twin city of Mishawaka, Indiana. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total of 107,789 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 316,663. It is the fourth largest city in Indiana and county seat of St. Joseph County. It is the economic and cultural hub of the region commonly known as Michiana, and may be best known as the home of the University of Notre Dame.

South Bend lies along the Indiana Toll Road at the south most turn in the St. Joseph River, from which it derives its name. The area was originally settled in the early 19th century by fur traders, and established as a city in 1865. The St. Joseph River shaped South Bend’s economy through the mid-20th century. River access led to heavy industrial development that peaked with Studebaker being based in the city, along with Oliver Chilled Plow Company and several other industrial companies.

The population of South Bend has declined since its peak of 132,445 in 1960. This is in large part due to the demise of Studebaker and other heavy industry. The 2000 census saw South Bend’s population increase 2.2% from 1990, the first gain since 1960. Today, the largest industries in South Bend are health care, education, and small business. A large tourism sector also exists, mainly supported by the University of Notre Dame. South Bend still remains the focal point for Michiana, with the second busiest airport in Indiana, interurban rail service to downtown Chicago, and several large businesses including Crowe Horwath, Bosch and AM General.

South Bend History

South Bend in 1866The first settlements in the current South Bend area were established as fur trading posts. The first westerner to make permanent settlement was Pierre Frieschutz Navarre in 1820. Navarre arrived on behalf of the American Fur Company. His home was not far from what would become downtown South Bend. Alexis Coquillard, another agent of the American Fur Company, passed through South Bend in 1823 and returned in 1824 with his family to make it his home.At the time, the post was known as Big St. Joseph Station. In 1827, Lathrop Minor Taylor established a post for Samuel Hanna and Company. The area soon became known as St. Joseph’s, Indiana as recorded in the Samuel Hanna and Company records. By 1829, the town was growing, with Coquillard and Taylor emerging as leaders. The town applied for a post office, and Taylor was named postmaster later that year. The town was designated as Southold, Allen County, Indiana . The following year, the name of the city was changed to South Bend. This change was in order to ease confusion as several other communities called Southold existed 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. Soon after, design began on what would become the town of South Bend.

The area was incorporated as a town in 1835 and rapidly grew. During the late 1830s through the 1850s, much of South Bend’s development centered around 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 mills 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 tracks. In 1852, Henry Studebaker set up a wagon shop in South Bend. Studebaker would go on to become a large automobile manufacturer of the United States. Other manufacturing companies such as the Singer Sewing Company and the Oliver Chilled Plow Company would soon follow suit, and manufacturing would become the driving force in the South Bend economy through the mid-20th century.

South Bend also gained from its position on what was known as The Michigan Road, the main northsouth artery of northern Indiana in the 19th century. Another significant development occurred near South Bend in 1842, when the Reverend Edward Sorin founded the University of Notre Dame, just north of the town.Notre Dame would eventually become an intrinsic part of South Bend, contributing greatly to the economy and culture. In 1865, a petition was introduced for South Bend to incorporate as a city. South Bend held its first elections as a city on Monday, June 5, 1865.

Other industries continued to develop in South Bend in the early twentieth century, including Birdsell Manufacturing Company, the Bendix Corporation, Honeywell, AlliedSignal, the Robert Bosch GmbH, South Bend Lathe Works, the O’Brien Paint Corp., and the South Bend Toy Company. Fast development led to the creation of electric rail transportation throughout the area, and in 1925 and the South Shore interurban streetcar service was established from downtown South Bend to downtown Chicago.

During World War II, the South Bend Blue Sox All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team was formed in South Bend. The team participated in all the league’s seasons from 1943-1954.

By 1950, more than half of all employment was in the manufacturing sector.[12] Due to economic difficulties, the Studebaker Company closed its automotive manufacturing plants in South Bend in December 1963.[13] A general decline in manufacturing soon followed. By the year 2000 manufacturing only made up 16% of the local economy, and the population decreased by nearly 30,000.

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 are currently a Class A minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Midwest League.

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