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Northwest Indiana

Common name: The Region
Largest city

Other cities

 - Hammondmarker

 - Michigan Citymarker

 - Portagemarker

 - Valparaisomarker
Counties   - Jaspermarker

 - Lakemarker

 - LaPorte

 - Newtonmarker

 - Portermarker

Northwest Indiana, also known as the South Shore, The Calumet Region,and The Region, comprises Lakemarker, Portermarker, LaPorte, Newtonmarker, and Jaspermarker counties in Indianamarker. This region neighbors Lake Michiganmarker, and is part of the Chicago metropolitan areamarker.Northwest Indiana communities are bedroom communities to the Chicago metropolitan region. Northwest Indiana consists of cities such as Crown Pointmarker,Dyermarker,East Chicagomarker, Garymarker,Hammondmarker, Hobartmarker, Michigan Citymarker,Portagemarker, Valparaisomarker.


The counties of Lakemarker, Portermarker, LaPorte, Jaspermarker, and Newtonmarker are included in the Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City Combined Statistical Area, the broadest of the census defined Metropolitan definitions. Unlike the majority of Indianamarker, which operates on Eastern Standard Time, these five counties are among six in Northwestern Indiana that are in the Central Time Zone, the other being Starkemarker. This reflects their close economic integration in the Chicago metropolitan areamarker. This area of Indiana, along with the Illinois counties of Cook marker, Willmarker, Kankakeemarker, and Iroquoismarker, are often referred to as Illiana (pronounced "Il-ee-AN-a") by local media.

Three counties- Lake, Porter, and LaPorte- are served by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission , an organization that coordinates economic and infrastructure development.


[[Image:West Beach Succession Trail Dune.JPG‎|right|thumb|300 px|The Long Stairs up the dune at West Beach on the Succession Trail]]The Lake Michigan shore is a major attraction. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshoremarker, which stretches from Garymarker to Michigan Citymarker, is a well-preserved stretch of sand dunes, beaches, grasslands, and forests, as well as several historical homes and buildings.Other prominent geographical features of Northwest Indiana include the Valparaiso Moraine, Tinley Moraine, Calumet Shoreline, Glenwood Shoreline, and the Kankakee River and Kankakee Outwash Plain.

Chicago Lake Plain

The Chicago Lake Plain covers the northern quarter of Northwest Indiana. Initially, the plain was flat, composed of glacio-lacustrine deposits. These formed under the waters of glacial Lake Michigan. The lake formed from the melting glaciers north of the Valparaiso Moraine. Eventually the lake topped a low spot on the moraine. This lowered the lake level to current day Lake Michiganmarker levels (Horsley, 1986). Along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the prevailing winds have built a series of dune ridges, breaking up the original flat surface of the Lake Plain.

Wheaton Morainal Plain

400 px
of the Chicago Lake Plain is the Wheaton Morainal Plain. The Wheaton Morainal Plain follows the Valparaiso Moraine in a sweeping arc, paralleling the Lake Michigan Shoreline. The plain consist of rolling Wisconsinan-age moraines. The Morainal Plain is clayey till, and sandy and loamy till, with areas of sand and gravel. Other deposits include lake clay, silt, and alluvium. Deposits are between 50 and 200 ft thick, with many southern areas have over 200 ft of till. (Mades, 1987).

Kankakee Till Plain

The Kankakee Till Plain is an outwash plain formed by the variable gradient, variable volume, and variable velocity of glacial floods (Mickelson and others, 1984). Deposits are predominately sand and gravel, but also include alluvium and fill materials. Deposits average less than 200 ft thick; in the lowlands they can be less than 50 ft thick, while in the upland they can be more than 200 ft thick. Local elevation changes are less than 100 ft.

Bloomington Ridged Plain

The Bloomington Ridged Plain covers only the most southern part of Northwest Indiana in the valley of the Iroquois River. This area consists of low and rolling hills, i.e., moraines with less than 300 ft changes in elevation. The soils are loamy till, lake clay and silt. Unlike the northern half of Northwest Indiana, the Huron-Erie glacial lobe left these deposits in it northeastward retreat. Deposits are less than 200 ft thick; with some of more than 400 feet thick.

Steuben Morainal Lake Area

The Steuben Morainal Lake Area is also the remains of the Saginaw glacial lob and covers only the eastern-most part of the Northwest Indiana. The area includes knob and kettles. ‘Knobs are formed when a melting glacier deposits hills of sand and gravel into a depression left by the ice. Kettles are formed when ice blocks from a glacier melt in depressions left by the ice.’ Many of the kames and peat bogs throughout this area are formed in these Kettles. Deposits are loamy till of more 200 ft thick. Variation in elevation is less than 110 feet. (Schneider, 1966).


The northern portion of Northwest Indiana is noted for its heavy industry. Gary, Portage, Burns Harbor and East Chicago are home to major steel mills, including the largest North American facilities for both U.S. Steel (Gary Works) and Arcelor Mittal (Indiana Harbor). Whitingmarker is home to the largest oil refinery in the Midwestern U.S., operated by BP. Other industrial outputs include fabricated metals, transportation equipment, and food products.

Since the 1990s, casino gambling has become a significant component of Northwest Indiana's economy. Four casino boats, with approximately 7,000 slots and 200 table games, are located along Lake Michigan in Lake County. An additional 1,724 slots and forty nine table games are in Michigan Citymarker.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana State Legislature formed the entity known as the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) in 2006. The RDA is vested with both authority and tax dollars to invest in transportation and economic development in Northwest Indiana.

A number of Northwest Indiana's suburban towns and cities serve as bedroom communities for Chicago. Retail trade, health care and other service industries represent the dominant economic activities in these areas.


Various colleges and universities are located in Northwest Indiana: Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana University Northwestmarker (IUN) in Garymarker, Purdue University Calumetmarker in Hammondmarker, and Purdue University North Centralmarker in Westvillemarker and Valparaiso University in Valparaisomarker (the largest private Lutheran University in the United States), . Along with several smaller colleges and universities in Northwest Indiana, these institutions offer a variety of degree programs in areas including business administration, engineering and engineering technology, law, education, computing and information technology, and the liberal arts. Additionally, Northwest Indiana is proximate to numerous other universities elsewhere in Indiana and in the Chicago metropolitan area.


Census Bureau population statistics

Census Area 2000 Census 1990 Census 1980 Census 1970 Census 1960 Census 1950 Census
Jasper County, Indianamarker 30,043 24,960 26,138 20,429 18,842 17,031
Lake County, Indianamarker 484,564 475,594 522,965 546,253 513,269 368,152
LaPorte County, Indiana 110,106 107,066 108,632 105,342 95,111 76,808
Newton County, Indianamarker 14,566 13,551 14,844 11,606 11,502 11,006
Porter County, Indianamarker 146,798 128,932 119,816 87,114 60,279 40,076


Major airports

Commuter rail

South Shore Train at Dunes Park
*South Shore Line connecting Chicago to South Bend, Indianamarker, passing through Garymarker and Michigan Citymarker


Area codes

Local media



Northwest Indiana natives

Parks and Nature Areas


  1. Welcome to the NIRPC Home Page
  2. Environmental Setting of the Upper Illinois River Basin and Implications for Water Quality Water-Resources Investigations Report 98–4268; Terri L. Arnold, Daniel J. Sullivan, Mitchell A. Harris, Faith A. Fitzpatrick, Barbara C. Scudder, Peter M. Ruhl, Dorothea W. Hanchar, and Jana S. Stewart; U.S. Geologic Survey, Department of the Interior; Urbana, Illinois; 1999; pg 11
  3. pg 12
  4. pg 12
  5. pg 12, 18
  6. pg 18
  7. RDA: Home
  8. Indiana Atlas and Gazetter; DeLorme, Yarmouth, Vermont

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