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Bloomington turns 200


Celebrating 200 years of the city that shaped Southern Indiana.



In celebration of Bloomington’s bicentennial year, four 812 reporters ventured into the community to learn about Bloomington from the people who know it best.

These pages tell the tales of people like Austin Seward, one of Bloomington’s founding fathers and the creator of the iconic fish weathervane; Bill Cook, co-founder of Cook Medical; Charles DeBow, one of the first five African Americans to earn his wings from the U.S. Air Force; and Sarah Parke Morrison, the first woman to graduate from Indiana University.

The resulting stories – of war veterans, ghosts, enduring businesses, pivotal moments, and important firsts – paint an image of perseverance and pride. Explore Bloomington’s limestone industry, glimpse fashion through the ages, and compare then-and-now photos of some of the city’s iconic landmarks.

Move through five eras of Bloomington’s history from the city’s founding to modern days, where you can find out more about this year’s bicentennial celebrations.

The wealth of information that poured in from IU professor James Madison, librarian Christine Friesel, local historians Hilary Fleck and Susan Dyar, and Seward descendent Allen Dunn, among others, tells the story of a hardworking community intent on bettering itself and the world.

These 200 years are a journey through Bloomington’s triumphs and tribulations. Bon voyage. 

1818 – 1899: Establishment Years

1900 – 1929: Emergence of a City

1930 – 1949: WWII and The Great Depression

World War II stories

1950 – 1974: Era of Change

1975 – Present: Modern Day

Vintage eateries

It happened here!

Haunts

Bloomington quiz

The firsts of Bloomington

Celebrate with us