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The area was first settled in the 1790s by the Lenape (Delaware) people, who migrated west from their tribal lands in the Mid-Atlantic region (all of New Jersey, southeastern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern Delaware) to new lands in present-day Ohio and eastern Indiana. The Lenape founded several towns along the White River, including Munsee Town, near the site of present-day Muncie.
Contrary to popular legend, the city's early name of Munsee Town is derived from the "Munsee" clan of Lenape people, the white settlers' name for a group of Native Americans whose village was once situated along the White River. There is no evidence that a mythological Chief Munsee ever existed. ("Munsee" means a member of or one of their languages.)
In 1818 the area's native tribes ceded their lands to the federal government under the terms of the Treaty of St. Mary's and agreed to move farther west by 1821. New settlers began to arrive in what became Delaware County, Indiana, about 1820, shortly before the area's public lands were formally opened for purchase. The small trading village of Munsee Town, renamed Muncietown, was selected as the Delaware County seat and platted in 1827. On January 13, 1845, Indiana's governor signed legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly to shorten the town's name to Muncie. Soon, a network of roads connected Muncie to nearby towns, adjacent counties, and to other parts of Indiana. The Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad, the first to arrive in Muncie in 1852, provided the town and the surrounding area with access to larger markets for its agricultural production, as well as a faster means of transporting people and goods into and out of the area.
Muncie incorporated as a town on December 6, 1854, and became an incorporated city in 1865. John Brady was elected as the city's first mayor. Muncie's early utility companies also date to the mid-1860s, including the city's waterworks, which was established in 1865.
After the American Civil War, two factors helped Muncie attract new commercial and industrial development: the arrival of additional railroads from the late 1890s to the early 1900s and the discovery of abundant supplies of natural gas in the area. Prior to the discovery of nearby natural-gas wells and the beginning of the gas boom in Muncie in 1886, the region was primarily an agricultural area, with Muncie serving as the commercial trading center for local farmers.
The Indiana gas boom of the 1880s ushered in a new era of prosperity to Muncie. Abundant supplies of natural gas attracted new businesses, industries, and additional residents to the city. Although agriculture continued to be an economic factor in the region, industry dominated the city's development for the next 100 years. One of the major manufacturers that arrived early in the city's gas-boom period was the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, which was renamed the Ball Corporation in 1969. The Ball brothers, who were searching for a new site for their glass manufacturing business that was closer to an abundant natural-gas supply, built a new glass-making foundry from in Muncie, beginning its glass production on March 1, 1888. In 1889 the company relocated its metal manufacturing operations to Muncie.
In addition to several other glass factories, Muncie attracted iron and steel mills, including the Republic Iron and Steel Company and the Midland Steel Company. (Midland became Inland Steel Company and later moved to Gary, Indiana.) Indiana Bridge Company was also a major employer. By the time the natural gas supply from the Trenton Gas Field had significantly declined and the gas boom ended in Indiana around 1910, Muncie was well established as an industrial town and a commercial center for east-central Indiana, especially with several railroad lines connecting it to larger cities and the arrival of automobile industry manufacturing after 1900.
Numerous civic developments also occurred as a result of the city's growth during the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, when Muncie citizens built a new city hall, a new public library, and a new high school. The city's gasworks also began operations in the late 1870s. The Muncie Star was founded in 1899 and the Muncie Evening Press was founded in 1905. A new public library, which was a Carnegie library project, was dedicated on January 1, 1904, and served as the main branch of the city's public library system.
The forerunner to Ball State University also arrived in the early twentieth century. Eastern Indiana Normal School opened 1899, but it closed after two years. Several subsequent efforts to establish a private college in Muncie during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also failed, but one proved to be very successful. After the Ball brothers bought the school property and its vacant buildings and donated them to the State of Indiana, the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division, the forerunner to Ball State University, opened in 1918. It was named Ball Teachers College in 1922, Ball State Teachers College in 1929, and Ball State University in 1965.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, in tandem with the gas boom, Muncie developed an active cultural arts community, which included music and art clubs, women's clubs, self-improvements clubs, and other social clubs. Hoosier artist J. Ottis Adams, who came to Muncie in 1876, later formed an art school in the city with fellow artist, William Forsyth. Although their school closed with a year or two, other art groups were established, most notably the Art Students' League (1892) and the Muncie Art Association (1905).
By the early twentieth century several railroads served Muncie, which helped to establish the city as a transportation hub. The Cincinnati, Richmond and Muncie Railroad (later known as the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway) reached Muncie in 1903. The Chicago, Indiana, and Eastern Railroad (acquired by a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad system) and the Chicago and Southeastern (sometimes called the Central Indiana Railroad) also served the city. In addition to the railroads, Muncie's roads connected to nearby towns and an electric interurban system, which arrived in the early 1900s, linked it to smaller towns and larger cities, including Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio.
With the arrival of the auto manufacturing and the related auto parts industry after the turn of the twentieth century, Muncie's industrial and commercial development increased, along with its population growth. During World War I local manufacturers joined others around the county in converting their factories to production of war material. In the 1920s Muncie continued its rise as an automobile-manufacturing center, primarily due to its heavy industry and skilled labor force. During this time, the community also became a center of Ku Klux Klan activity. Muncie's Klan membership was estimated at 3,500 in the early 1920s. Scandals within the Klan's leadership, divisions among its members, and some violent confrontations with their opponents damaged the organization's reputation. Increasing hostility toward the Klan's political activities, beliefs, and values also divided the Muncie community, before its popularity and membership significantly declined by the end of the decade.
Muncie residents also made it through the challenges of the Great Depression, with the Ball brothers continuing their role as major benefactors to the community by donating funds for construction of new facilities at Ball State and Ball Memorial Hospital. (The hospital, which opened in 1929, later affiliated with Indiana University Health.) The Works Progress Administration (WPA) also provided jobs such as road grading, city sewer improvements, and bridge construction.
In the 1920s, Robert and Helen Lynd led a team of sociologists in a study of a typical middle-American community. The Lynds chose Muncie as the locale for their field research, although they never specifically identified it as "Middletown" the fictional name of the town in their study. Muncie received national attention after the publication of their book, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture (1929). The Lynds returned to Muncie to re-observe the community during the Depression, which resulted in a sequel, Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (1937). The Lynds' Middletown study, which was funded by the Rockefeller Institute of Social and Religious Research, was intended to study "the interwoven trends that are the life of a small American city."
The Lynds were only the first to conduct a series of studies in Muncie. The National Science Foundation funded a third major study that resulted in two books by Theodore Caplow, Middletown Families (1982) and All Faithful People (1983). Caplow returned to Muncie in 1998 to begin another study, Middletown IV, which became part of a Public Broadcasting Service documentary titled "The First Measured Century", released in December 2000. The Ball State Center for Middletown Studies continues to survey and analyze social change in Muncie. A database of Middletown surveys conducted between 1978 and 1997 is available online from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). Due to the extensive information collected from the Middletown studies during the twentieth century, Muncie is said to be one of the most studied cities of its size in the United States.
In addition to being called a "typical American city", as the result of the Middletown studies, Muncie is known as Magic City or Magic Muncie, as well as the Friendly City.
During World War II the city's manufacturers once again turned their efforts to wartime production. Ball State and Muncie's airport also trained pilots for the U.S. Navy. The postwar era was another period of expansion for Muncie, with continued growth and development of industries, construction of new homes, schools, and businesses. A population boom brought further development, especially from 1946 to 1965.
Since the 1950s and 1960s Muncie has continued as an education center in the state and emerged as a regional health center. As enrollment at Ball State increased, new buildings were erected on the college's campus. Ball Memorial Hospital also expanded its facilities. However, by the 1960s, industrial trends had shifted. Beginning in the 1970s several manufacturing plants closed or moved elsewhere, while others adapted to industrial changes and remained in Muncie. Ball Corporation, for example, closed its Muncie glass manufacturing facilities in 1962 and its corporate headquarters relocated to Broomfield, Colorado in 1998. Muncie was also home to other manufacturing operations, including Warner Gear (a division of BorgWarner), Delco Remy, General Motors, Ontario Corporation, A. E. Boyce Company, and Westinghouse Electric, among others.
In 2017, the Muncie Community Schools system was declared a "distressed political subdivision", and put in direct control of the state government. In 2018, the school district was reformed and a new board was appointed by Ball State's Board of Trustees.
As of the census of 2010, there were 70,085 people, 27,722 households, and 13,928 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,576.7 inhabitants per square mile (994.9/km2). There were 31,958 housing units at an average density of 1,174.9 per square mile (453.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.0% White, 10.9% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.
There were 27,722 households, of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.5% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 49.8% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.85.
The median age in the city was 28.1 years. 17.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 27.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.4% were from 25 to 44; 20.2% were from 45 to 64; and 13% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 67,430 people, 27,322 households, and 14,589 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,788.2 people per square mile (1,076.7/km2). There were 30,205 housing units at an average density of 1,248.9 per square mile (482.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.72% White, 12.97% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.44% of the population.
There were 27,322 households, out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.6% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 19.8% under the age of 18, 24.6% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,613, and the median income for a family was $36,398. Males had a median income of $30,445 versus $21,872 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,814. About 14.3% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.2% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.
Indiana is a state with a lot to offer to the visitor. It is a central part of Midwest Region, which has an approximate six million residents and is a predominantly male. The state has a lot to offer to the visitor. From historic sites to sports to great food, Indiana has a lot to offer to the visitors.
Demographics: Indiana is known as the "Godfather of Football". The people of Indiana are passionate about their football team and are enthusiastic to attend games. The most famous sports club in the United States is the Indiana Pacers. Indiana Basketball has become very popular among the visitors.
Geography: Indiana is well known for its beautiful geology and fauna. There are many interesting landscapes and geology attractions in Indiana that attract visitors and make them curious about the place. The Great Lake Superior Geology Field School is located in Fort Wayne. This school has come up with some interesting courses on geology. The geology students can expect to learn how to take a field trip to famous Indiana attractions like Indiana Dunes and Grand Canyon.
History: Indiana is home to more than two million historical artifacts. These artifacts showcase the rich culture of Indiana and give the visitors a glimpse into the past. Indiana was one of the first States to form the United States. Some of the most notable historians and sports figures from Indiana have been linked to the development of sports in the state.
Sports: Indiana is very proud of its athletic teams and sports clubs. The state is very well known for sports teams in football, baseball and basketball. Basketball giants like the Indiana Pacers have emerged from the state and made a mark for themselves in the National Basketball League.
History lovers will love visiting the historic sites like Fort Thomas. The site is a National Historic Landmark and is considered to be one of the best examples of American Indian history. There are also lots of attractions like Indian Cave Tour in south Indiana, Rediscover the Painting Trail in Fort Wayne and historic caves in Michigan, all made significant by the rich history of the place.
Landscaping: Indiana is gifted with some of the richest lands in the country. The land has different types of soils and climates which makes landscaping in Indiana a challenge. With so much of nature around, it becomes imperative to plant good trees and grass and nurture the plants to prevent desertification of the land. A good landscape design enhances the visual appeal of the property and increases the property's resale value.
Climate: Indiana has one of the warmest climates in the country. Winters are not cold as other areas of the country and there is always enough of rain in Indiana. The summers are hot and summers are mild with rainfall. Indiana is blessed with an excellent natural geography and a rich heritage of American Indians. This makes the climate very ideal for outdoor sports and good time for nature lovers.
Construction Enthusiasts: Indiana is home to a passionate group of people who love to build and repair homes. These people are well-versed with the American Indian culture and have great respect for them. That's why construction companies prefer to work with these people over other construction companies. In fact construction home builders from Indiana are favored over most other builders. Most home builders from the state are highly recommended by lenders.
Sports: Being located in the Midwest, Indiana is a sports obsessed state. It has lots of sports teams and organizations. Whether you are interested in sports related events, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, or softball, there is no doubt that you will never be bored in Indiana. The state has lots of professional sports teams and large scale arena hosting variety of sports events.
City Life: Indiana is home to a vibrant city life and has a well preserved one too. The city has 1810 mansions and condos which are fully furnished. Also you will find plenty of fine restaurants and shopping malls. In addition to this real estate in Indiana is quite cheap, and you will also get a good location for your home.
Real Estate: Indiana is well known for having excellent soil. The state has some of the finest soils in the nation. There are plenty of well-established real estate and land firms operating in the state. So if you are considering building or purchasing a house in Indiana, you can look forward to a nice parcel of land in the cities of Indianapolis, Gary, and Bloomington.