Kokomo, Indiana

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Kokomo, IN
—  City  —
Downtown Kokomo in 2008

Nickname(s): City of Firsts
Location of Kokomo in the state of Indiana
Coordinates: 40°28′56″N 86°7′54″W / 40.48222°N 86.13167°W / 40.48222; -86.13167Coordinates: 40°28′56″N 86°7′54″W / 40.48222°N 86.13167°W / 40.48222; -86.13167
CountryUnited States
 • MayorGreg Goodnight (D)
 • Total18.56 sq mi (42.1 km2)
 • Land18.50 sq mi (42.0 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation811 ft (247 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total45,468
 • Density2,797/sq mi (1,080.0/km2)
Time zoneEST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes46901-46904
Area code(s)765
FIPS code18-40392[1]
GNIS feature ID0437425[2]
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Kokomo, IN
—  City  —
Downtown Kokomo in 2008

Nickname(s): City of Firsts
Location of Kokomo in the state of Indiana
Coordinates: 40°28′56″N 86°7′54″W / 40.48222°N 86.13167°W / 40.48222; -86.13167Coordinates: 40°28′56″N 86°7′54″W / 40.48222°N 86.13167°W / 40.48222; -86.13167
CountryUnited States
 • MayorGreg Goodnight (D)
 • Total18.56 sq mi (42.1 km2)
 • Land18.50 sq mi (42.0 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation811 ft (247 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total45,468
 • Density2,797/sq mi (1,080.0/km2)
Time zoneEST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes46901-46904
Area code(s)765
FIPS code18-40392[1]
GNIS feature ID0437425[2]

Kokomo (play /ˈkkəm/) is the county seat of Howard County, Indiana, United States.[3] Kokomo is Indiana's 12th largest city. It is the principal city of the Kokomo, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Howard and Tipton counties. Kokomo's population was 46,113 at the 2000 census,[4] and 45,468 at the 2010 census.[5] On January 1, 2012, Kokomo successfully annexed more than 7 square miles (18 km2) on the south and west sides of the city, including Alto and Indian Heights, increasing the city's population to nearly 57,000 people.[6]



The Art Deco Howard County courthouse.

Kokomo was named after a Miami Indian referred to as a chief, but later found to be local legend Ma-Ko-Ko-Mo, which is sometimes spelled as "Koh-Koh-Mah" or "Kokomoko". His name translates to Black Walnut. There was a trading post for commerce between Native Americans and European-Americans here in the early 19th century.[7] David Foster founded the first trading post in Howard County. In 1844, Foster donated 40 acres (160,000 m2) of his land to create a county seat in Kokomo, which was a log courthouse, for use in the community. It was incorporated as a city in 1865.[8]

Natural gas miners and their drill, near Kokomo, Indiana during the Indiana Gas Boom, c. 1885

On October 6, 1886, natural gas was discovered in Kokomo, leading to a "boom" in business. This discovery was directly responsible for Elwood Haynes' move to Kokomo, as he was a superintendent with a gas company with interests in Kokomo and Howard County. The Diamond Plate Glass Company began in Kokomo in 1887, lured by the cheap and plentiful natural gas. This company later became part of Pittsburgh Plate Glass, or PPG.[8] The Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works started making stained glass in Kokomo in 1888 and has been in continuous operation ever since.[9]

On July 4, 1923, Kokomo achieved national notoriety when it hosted the largest Ku Klux Klan gathering in history. An estimated 200,000 Klan members and supporters gathered in Malfalfa Park for a mighty Konklave and the elevation of D. C. Stephenson to Grand Dragon of the Indiana Klan.[10][11] A huge flag was used that day to collect a reported $50,000 for construction of a local “Klan hospital” so that Klan members would not have to be treated at the only local hospital, which was Catholic.[12] At that time Indiana was a Klan stronghold, and as much as 50 percent of white males in parts of Indiana were Klan members.[13] Both men’s and women’s Klans held weekly rallies and initiations in Malfalfa Park, and Kokomo’s Klanswomen held meetings at the armory, the local headquarters of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, and churches. A speech at a Baptist church was attended by 1000 Klanswomen.[14]

Much of the town was damaged or destroyed on April 11, 1965, by an F4 tornado that was part of the Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak.[15]

"City of Firsts"

Kokomo is officially known as the "City of Firsts"[16] for, among other achievements, being a pioneer of United States automobile manufacturing, with Elwood Haynes test-driving his early internal combustion engine auto there on July 4, 1894. Haynes and his associates built a number of other autos over the next few years; the Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company for mass-production of commercial autos was established in Kokomo in 1898.[17] Haynes went on to invent Stainless Steel flatware in 1912 to give his wife tarnish-free dinnerware.[18] In 1938, the Delco Radio Division of General Motors (now Delphi) developed the first push button car radio.[19]

Kokomo serves as the "City of Firsts" in the food industry as well. In 1928 Walter Kemp, Kemp Brothers Canning Co. developed the first canned tomato juice because of a request by a physician in search for baby food for his clinic.[20] Kokomo is also home to the first mechanical corn picker which was developed by a man named John Powell in the early 1920s.[21] Kokomo was home to the first Ponderosa Steakhouse, which opened in 1965.[22] Kokomo opened the first McDonald's with a diner inside, locally called "McDiner."[23] This McDonald's theme failed nationally. Eventually, the "McDiner" closed and was converted back to a regular McDonald's restaurant.

These inventions are associated with Kokomo:[8]

Ryan White

Kokomo served to symbolize the nation's early misunderstanding and ignorance of AIDS in the mid-to-late 1980s when Ryan White (1971–1990) was expelled from school due to his illness. White was a teenage hemophiliac who had been mistakenly infected with HIV during a medical procedure. The teen had been attending Western Middle School but was ostracized by his classmates, and forced to eat lunch by himself and use a separate restroom. Many parents and teachers in Kokomo rallied in support of banning White from attending the school. A lengthy legal battle with the school system ensued, followed by death threats and violence against White and his family, including a bullet being fired through the window of their Kokomo home. Media coverage of the case made White into a national celebrity and spokesman for AIDS research and public education.[24] In 1987, the White family left Kokomo for Cicero, Indiana, where Ryan attended Hamilton Heights High School, and was welcomed by faculty and students who had been educated about the disease.

Gas tower

The Kokomo Gas Tower had been a symbol of Kokomo since it was constructed in 1954. The tower was 378 ft (115 m) tall and had a capacity of 12 million cubic feet (340,000 m³). Due to high maintenance costs of $75,000 a year to maintain and up to $1,000,000 to paint, the gas company decided to demolish it in 2003. Other ideas were reviewed before settling on this decision, including a plan to turn the tower into a giant Coca-Cola advertisement. On September 7, 2003, at approximately 7:30 a.m., the Gas Tower was demolished by Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI). Pieces of the tower were sold to the public for $20–30, and proceeds went to a planned Kokomo technology incubation center and Bona Vista.[25]


According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 18.56 square miles (48.1 km2), of which 18.50 square miles (47.9 km2) (or 99.68%) is land and 0.06 square miles (0.16 km2) (or 0.32%) is water.[26]


Location of the Kokomo-Peru CSA and its components:
  Kokomo Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Peru Micropolitan Statistical Area
Historical populations
Source: US Census Bureau

Kokomo is the larger principal city of the Kokomo-Peru CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Kokomo metropolitan area (Howard and Tipton counties) and the Peru micropolitan area (Miami County),[27][28][29] which had a combined population of 137,623 at the 2000 census.[1]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 46,113 people, 20,273 households, and 12,204 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,847.2 people per square mile (1,099.0/km²). There were 22,292 housing units at an average density of 1,376.4 per square mile (531.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.10% White, 10.34% African American, 0.38% Native American, 1.14% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.61% of the population.

There were 20,273 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.8 males.

The median income for a households in the city was $36,258, and the median income for a family was $45,353. Males had a median income of $38,420 versus $24,868 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,083. About 9.6% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.


In December 2008, Kokomo was listed third by Forbes in a list of America's fastest dying towns. This is attributed to the financial problems of the automotive industry.[30] However, in May 2011 Forbes listed Kokomo as one of the "Best Cities for Jobs" after the city ascended 177 places in their rankings. The same article described Kokomo's success in the past few years as "inspirational".[31] In June 2011, Conexus released a report touting Kokomo's "rapid bounce" after the recession.[32]


City Hall and Police Department building.

Kokomo's current mayor is Democrat Greg Goodnight (2008–present).[33] The two previous mayors were Matt McKillip (2004–2008)[34] and Jim Trobaugh, both Republicans. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote.

The city council is known as the Common Council. It consists of nine members. Six members are elected from individual districts. The other three are elected at-large.







School districts



Health care


Howard County Historical Society

Seiberling Mansion

The Howard County Historical Society occupies the Seiberling Mansion, the Elliot House, and their carriage houses. The Seiberling Mansion was originally the residence of one of Kokomo's richest citizens, Monroe Seiberling. The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. The Elliot House also began as a residence and was then converted into office space. These buildings are in the Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only neighborhood in Howard County on the register.[39]

Parks and Recreation

Old Ben – Born in 1902 and acclaimed as "The largest steer in the world"
The Vermont Covered Bridge – Another attraction to be found in Highland Park


Sports teams

Sports venues


Kokomo has a 12-screen movie theater, called AMC Showplace Kokomo 12, located on 1530 East Boulevard. In addition to AMC, Kokomo also has several forms of live entertainment, including choirs, a Park Band Association, and three live theatres.


The city's major mall is Markland Mall, which features Carson Pirie Scott, Sears and Target. The Kokomo Town Center, the former Kokomo Mall, underwent a major renovation in 2011 when it became an outdoor mall.

Major employers


US 31 in Kokomo.

A major roadway traversing through Kokomo, nicknamed "stop light city", U.S. Route 31 has become one of the state's most congested roadways. In Howard County, there are currently 15 traffic signals on US 31. US 31 connects Indianapolis, Kokomo, and South Bend. Kokomo is working on a new interstate-style roadway on the east side of city limits. It will have interchanges at SR 26, Boulevard, Markland Avenue, Touby Pike, as well as where the current US 31 meets the new US 31. There will be similar changes to areas near South Bend and Indianapolis. The construction in Howard County will cost roughly $340 million. Construction started on the County Road 200 South bridge on November 1, 2008;[47] construction will continue for the next 2 years and be ready at the end of 2013.

Railroads [48]
Bus Service

Notable people and groups

In popular culture

See also

National Register of Historic Places listings in Howard County, Indiana


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Kokomo city, Indiana – Fact Sheet – American FactFinder. (American FactFinder Website), Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  5. ^ "Kokomo (city) QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/18/1840392.html. 
  6. ^ "YEAR IN REVIEW: Annexation, Kokomo recovery top 2011 headlines". Kokomo Tribune. 2011-12-31. http://kokomotribune.com/local/x1477837217/YEAR-IN-REVIEW-Annexation-Kokomo-recovery-top-2011-headlines. 
  7. ^ Leiter, Carl. "Chief Kokomo - Part I". Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. http://www.khcpl.org/glhs/history/chiefKokomoP1.html. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  8. ^ a b c "Time Line of Howard County, 1844-". Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. http://www.khcpl.org/glhs/history/timeline.html. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  9. ^ "History of Kokomo Opalescent Glass". http://www.kog.com/history.html. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  10. ^ http://www.centerforhistory.org/indiana_history_main7.html
  11. ^ The fiery cross: the Ku Klux Klan in America’’ Wyn Craig Wade, Oxford University Press. 1987
  12. ^ ”Konklave in Kokomo” by Robert Coughlan, The Aspirin Age: 1919-1941, pp. 105-129. ed. Isabel Leighton, Simon and Schuster, 1949
  13. ^ "Ku Klux Klan", Wayne County, Indiana Records, 1916–1933, Indiana History, URL accessed May 29, 2006
  14. ^ Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s.’’ Kathleen M. Blee. URL accessed October 17, 2010
  15. ^ "The Palm Sunday Story, April 11, 1965". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/iwx/program_areas/events/historical/palmsunday1965/index.php#Indiana%20and%20Michigan. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  16. ^ "City of Kokomo, Indiana". http://www.cityofkokomo.org/. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Stainless Steel". Worcester Polytechnic Institute. http://www.wpi.edu/About/History/Profiles/steel.html. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  19. ^ http://delphi.com/news/pressReleases/pressReleases_2006/pr66602-01042006/
  20. ^ "Walter Kemp Develops Canned Tomato Juice". American Profile. http://www.americanprofile.com/articles/walter-kemp-develops-canned-tomato-juice-/. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  21. ^ http://www.state.in.us/ism/Exhibits_Collections/index.aspx
  22. ^ Stephens, Caleb (2003-04-21). "Local Ponderosa restaurants fall from six to two". bizjournals. http://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2003/04/21/story3.html. 
  23. ^ "‘McDonald’s With Diner Inside’ Debuts". 2001. http://www.creativemag.com/rest501.html. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  24. ^ AIDS Boy Banned From Attending School – 1st August 1985
  25. ^ "Crowds flooded the intersection of Firmin and Home Avenue". Kokomo Tribune. http://www.ktonline.com/archivesearch/local_story_318172905.html. 
  26. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places - Indiana". United States Census. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/files/Gaz_places_18.txt. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  27. ^ METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  28. ^ MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  29. ^ COMBINED STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENT CORE BASED STATISTICAL AREAS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  30. ^ Kotkin, Joel; Shires, Michael (2008-12-09). "America's Fastest-Dying Towns". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2011/05/02/the-best-cities-for-jobs/. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  31. ^ Kotkin, Joel; Shires, Michael (2011-05-02). "The Best Cities For Jobs". Forbes. http://blogs.forbes.com/joelkotkin/2011/05/02/the-best-cities-for-jobs/. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  32. ^ "2011 Manufacturing + Logistics Indiana State Report" (PDF). Ball State University. http://cber.iweb.bsu.edu/research/conexus11/IndianaReport11.pdf. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  33. ^ "Kokomo Mayor". City of Kokomo, Indiana. http://www.cityofkokomo.org/main.asp?SectionID=15&TM=9914.998. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  34. ^ City of Kokomo Indiana | Mayors Office
  35. ^ "A Call to Care – Sisters of St. Joseph". Catholic Health Association. http://www.chausa.org/Contenttwocolumn.aspx?pageid=2147486963. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  36. ^ "St. Joseph Hospital – Our History". St. Vincent Health. http://www.stvincent.org/St-Joseph/About-Us/Our-History.aspx. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
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  38. ^ "Organizational History and Profile". Howard Regional Health. http://www.howardregional.org/foundation_history. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
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  40. ^ "Elwood Haynes Museum". City of Kokomo. http://www.cityofkokomo.org/main.asp?SectionID=50&SubSectionID=113&ArticleID=205&TM=49307.54. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  41. ^ "Haynes-Apperson Festival". http://haynesappersonfestival.org/. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  42. ^ Kokomo Speedway
  43. ^ "Kokomo Transmission Plant". http://www.media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=322&mid=. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  44. ^ "Kokomo Casting Plant". http://www.media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=328&mid=&searchresult. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  45. ^ "Indiana Transmission Plant I". http://www.media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=349&mid=&searchresult. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  46. ^ "Kokomo Municipal Airport". City of Kokomo. http://www.cityofkokomo.org/main.asp?SectionID=3&TM=48649.88. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  47. ^ "U.S. 31 bypass work begins". Kokomo Tribune. http://www.kokomotribune.com/local/local_story_306005257.html. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  48. ^ "State of Indiana 2011 Rail System Map" (PDF). Indiana Department of Transportation. 2011. http://www.in.gov/indot/files/MAIN-RR-11_V1.pdf. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  49. ^ "CENTRAL RAILROAD OF INDIANAPOLIS (CERA)". RailAmerica. http://www.railamerica.com/RailServices/CERA.aspx. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  50. ^ "'The boy who saved me from myself': Elton John on the young friend whose death from AIDS turned around his own life". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2173528/Elton-John-book-Singer-pays-tribute-AIDS-victim-Ryan-White.html. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 

External links