Located in Northeast Indiana and known as the “Valley of Paradise,” Valparaiso is a popular destination for vacationers, due to its proximity to a number of major highways as well as Chicago and Detroit.
The land which now comprises Valparaiso was purchased by the U.S. Government from the Potawatomi Indians in October of 1832. Originally known by the Potawatomi as Chipauw, it was named Portersville in 1836, but was renamed Valparaiso a year later. The name, “Valley of Paradise” in Spanish, was chosen because David Porter, for whom Porter County is named, fought in the Battle of Valparaiso during the War of 1812. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Valparaiso was a major transportation hub, as it was connected to Chicago, Pittsburgh, Gary, and Fort Wayne. Although the Canadian National railroad still runs through the area, passenger trains no longer serve Valparaiso. In 1991, Amtrak terminated their Calumet service. Valparaiso has still maintained its nickname as the “Crossroads of America” thanks to its proximity to four major interstates: I-65, I-80, I-90 and I-94.
Valparaiso Community Schools serve the area, and the district is comprised of eleven schools, including eight elementary schools, two middle schools, and Valparaiso High School. A number of private schools are located in Valparaiso as well. Higher education is offered in the community, with Purdue University North Central and Ivy Tech having satellite campuses in Valparaiso. Valparaiso University is located on the south side of the city and, occupying over 300 acres, serves over 4,000 students.
Valparaiso is home to a number of theatres and museums, including the Memorial Opera House and the Indiana Aviation Museum. With over a dozen city parks, there are activities for residents with a wide range of ages and interests. Bicentennial Park is home to a full playground for children, as well as basketball and tennis courts, and a baseball diamond. Fairgrounds Park is the largest of any Valparaiso park, with numerous baseball diamonds and soccer fields, as well as a paved walking track on its perimeter. A number of private and public golf courses are located in Valparaiso.
Held annually on the first Saturday after Labor Day, the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival is an all-day event which takes place in the downtown area. Honoring former resident Orville Redenbacher, the fair hosts races and a balloon launch, in addition to other popular events.