A Brief History Of Carmel Indiana

Dated: 03/23/2016

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Today, Carmel, Indiana, is a bustling and rapidly growing community. However, it has not always been this way. At its founding in the middle of the 19th Century, it was nothing more than farmland, settled primarily by Quakers. Modern-day Carmel has had a rather unique history since its founding, experiencing periods of both rapid and stagnant growth.

Founding and Early History

Modern-day Carmel, Indiana, was founded in 1837 as Bethlehem, a town plotted by pioneer Daniel Warren. Bethlehem was centrally located in the Rangeline Road and Main Street areas of modern-day Carmel. For the first 50 years, Bethlehem grew rather slowly, and it was a farming community. The area was primarily settled by Quakers in its early history. These Quaker settlers eventually built a meeting house and a school. By 1874, the area had grown significantly, allowing it to fully incorporate. Upon its incorporation the town changed its name to Carmel.

The Monon Railroad and Carmel

The Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railway, commonly called the Monon Railroad today, was introduced to Carmel in 1882. For the first time, Carmel residents could ship and receive products via rail, which allowed the town to grow at a faster pace. The Monon Railroad stretched between Michigan City in Northern Indiana and the Ohio River. While it was certainly used for cargo, the Monon Railroad made far away destinations like Chicago, Louisville and Lafayette easily accessible for Carmel residents.

The Interurban and the 20th Century

While the Monon Railroad certainly positively affected Carmel’s growth, it did not stop in Carmel that often. Around the turn of the century, the Interurban Railroad was built, allowing Carmel residents to easily access nearby Indianapolis. Residents could visit large Indianapolis stores like L.S. Ayres and entertainment venues like the English Opera House. The Interurban Railroad created new jobs in Carmel as well, further encouraging town’s growth. Residents of nearby communities would also use the Interurban Railroad to visit Carmel, increasing the sales of local businesses and stores. The Interurban Railroad, combined with the eventual paving of roadways in the first few decades of the 1900s, allowed Carmel to serve as a suburban, commuter community for Indianapolis. In September of 1938, the Interurban Railroad ceased service to Carmel. The independence and convenience of cars and busses had made the Interurban Railroad an unprofitable venture. Like most of the country, the economic hardships of the Great Depression slowed the growth of Carmel.

After World War II and the Modern Era

Immediately following World War II, Carmel’s growth was slow. However, by the 1950s, the effects of the Great Depression and World War II began to disappear, and Carmel grew at a rapid pace. In 1950, the population of Carmel was just 1,009. By 1974, the population had increased to 13,484. Two years later, in 1976, Carmel officially became a city, and the city began constructing the Carmel Civic Square in 1986. By 2003, Carmel’s population swelled to 40,000. In 2011, the population was an astounding 81,500, and the city opened the Center for the Performing Arts. Today, Carmel, Indiana, is regarded as one of the best places to live in the entire country. 

SOURCE: http://www.carmelclayhistory.org/

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Lisa Witsken-Gearhart

I am a native to Indiana and reside in Hamilton County. I am dedicated to providing you with the most positive experience, and strive to create customer relationships based on trust and confidence. Ma....

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