Is Merrillville, Indiana a Suburb?

Merrillville is a suburb of Chicago with a population of 34,889. It has a dense suburban feel and most residents own their homes. It is best known as the “downtown area of Northwest Indiana” due to its regional stores and many restaurants. Merrillville is a suburb in the Chicago metropolitan area, with a population of 35,032 inhabitants and a population density of 1,054, which is 91% above the national average. The average age of its residents is 38, which is 1 year above the average age of the Chicago Metro and equal to the national average. The most common occupations are office and administrative support (10.69%), sales jobs (8.53%), and management occupations (7.93%).

Attempts to incorporate Merrillville began in the 1950s but did not succeed until 1971 when the Indiana General Assembly passed a law that exempted only Lake County from the state's “buffer zone” law. In 1835, when American settlers advanced west to northwest Indiana, Jeremiah Wiggins bought a claim just south of Turkey Creek and named it Wiggins Point. As the area continues to be served by the Merrillville Post Office, local residents and businesses continue to identify as if they were in Merrillville rather than Hobart.

Heavy industry, such as steel and oil refining, that characterizes the economy of northern Lake County, does not have a significant presence in Merrillville. Instead, the most prevalent occupations for people in Merrillville are a mix of white-collar and working-class jobs. The people who call Merrillville home describe themselves as belonging to a variety of racial and ethnic groups. The city is home to the corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 energy company NiSource, hotel management firm White Lodging, and Centier Bank, Indiana's largest private independent bank.

Indiana's population exceeds 6,090,000; the Jewish population, 17,500, represents a decline in absolute numbers and percentage of the population in the last 30 years of the twentieth century. In 1848, the post office changed the name of the Merrillville settlement, in honor of residents Dudley and William Merrill. However, starting in the 1950s, several phenomena combined to bring about surprising changes in the Merrillville landscape. For longer trips, Amtrak stations are located in close proximity to Dyer and Hammond, Indiana, and Homewood, Illinois.

Public education in the City of Merrillville is provided by the Merrillville Community School Corporation. First, as in other areas of the country, urban residents began their march to the suburbs; in northwest Indiana, residents of the industrial cities of Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago began buying new homes in downtown Lake County.

Reuben Macedonio
Reuben Macedonio

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