Introduction to South Bend, Indiana
The Indiana city of South Bend is situated in the extreme northern part of the state, only 5 miles from the Michigan border. The county seat of St. Joseph County, South Bend sits 95 miles east of Chicago, Illinois. Large nearby cities include Elkhart (15 miles to the east), Gary (65 miles to the west), Fort Wayne (85 miles to the southeast), and Benton Harbor, Michigan (36 miles to the north). Major highways servicing the city include Interstates 80 and 90, U.S. Routes 20 and 31, and Indiana State Highways 2, 23, and 933.
Incorporated as a city in 1865, South Bend has a highly industrialized economy which emanated from the pioneering companies founded there in the 19th century, most notably the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company. The world's largest producer of wagons in the 19th century, the Studebaker Company was one of a handful of wagon making companies to successfully transition their operations from the building of wagons to the building of automobiles. Through the early part of the 20th century until shutting down manufacturing in 1963, their impact on South Bend's industry was enormous. Other companies which would later leave an imprint on the development of South Bend include the Oliver Corporation, the Birdsell Manufacturing Company, the Bendix Corporation, Honeywell, the Singer Sewing Machine Company, and the South Bend Toy Company.
South Bend is also famous as the home of the University of Notre Dame. Established in 1842 by the Very Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. and six Catholic brothers, the University has since been an intrinsic part of the city with a great effect on its culture and economy. As the largest employer in the city, Notre Dame is estimated to be responsible for one out of every ten dollars circulated in the St. Joseph County area. In addition, the University is one of the most visited attractions in the state of Indiana, drawing nearly 700,000 visitors annually. South Bend is also home to some other institutes of higher learning, including Saint Mary's College, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana North Central, Indiana University South Bend, Holy Cross College of Indiana, and Indiana Christian University.
Arts and Entertainment in South Bend
The Studebaker National Museum encompasses 114 years of automotive history spanning the full spectrum of Studebaker products; from the family's early Conestoga Wagon to the company's last automobile which rolled off the assembly line. The South Bend Regional Museum of Art, located in the Century Center in downtown South Bend, opened in 1996, and features over 850 works from a variety of regional artists. South Bend is also home to the Morris Performing Arts Center. Built in 1922, the facility was renovated in recent years and today houses the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and the Broadway Theater League.
Other nearby points of interest include:
- Century Center: A large convention center located on an 11-acre riverfront park
- Morris Performing Arts Center: A nationally-renowned 2500 seat theater which hosts a variety of performances
- The Potawatomi Zoo: The oldest zoo in Indiana, featuring over 400 animals
- East Race Waterway: First artificial whitewater course in North America
- South Bend Conservatory
- Northern Indiana Center for History
- South Bend Regional Museum of Art
- Health Works Kids Museum
- Tippecanoe Place Mansion
One of South Bend's major attractions is the College Football Hall of Fame, located in the downtown area, not too far from the University of Notre Dame campus. The hall features memorabilia commemorating the greats of American college football, including players and coaches of the past. There are also facilities for visitors to test their own football skills interactively and "360-degree" video monitors for viewing great plays from the past.
Sports action in South Bend is largely provided by The University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish athletic teams. The school has a nationally competitive Division I athletic program which includes a number of sports teams, but is most famous for having one of the most storied football programs in the history of the college sport. Notre Dame's eleven consensus NCAA football championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners, and over 800 all time wins make the school a college football legend. Football Saturdays are a major city event, attracting students, fans, visitors, tourists, and tailgaters. Notre Dame basketball games are also very popular, along with the school's other sports. Thanks in large part to Notre Dame, the College Football Hall of Fame was moved from Ohio to downtown South Bend in 1995.
South Bend is also home to the South Bend Silver Hawks, a Class-A Minor League Baseball team affiliated with Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. The Silver Hawks play at Coveleski Stadium in downtown South Bend. Auto racing fans can see lots of action at the South Bend Motor Speedway, which features weekly races of Sportsman Late Models, Mini-stock cars and Thunder Cars.