|Land Area in Square Miles:
County adjacent to Indianapolis-Marion County on the north and part of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area. WILLIAM CONNER was one of the first white settlers to arrive in the area now known as Hamilton County. Conner opened a trading post with the Delaware Indians about 1801 near White River, four miles south Of present-day Noblesville. More settlers began arriving after the Indians were removed in 1818. Five years later the county was organized and named after the early American statesman Alexander Hamilton.
Transportation routes determined the location of the first settlements. Strawtown, on White River, was once an Indian village, but was laid out by white settlers in 1819 to serve travelers. Westfield was platted by Quakers in 1834 at the intersection of two roads. Farther north the town of Cicero, founded in 1835, developed as a service center for local farmers.
When railroads were constructed in the early 1850s Hamilton County towns prospered. Noblesville was chosen as the county seat in 1823, but it was not until the Peru and Indianapolis Railroad was completed in 1851 that the town attracted a number of warehouses and tradesmen. Arcadia (established 1849) was also on the Peru and Indianapolis line, while Atlanta (founded 1850s) was laid out alongside the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. The Chicago and Indianapolis Airline (Monon), completed in 1882, attracted mills and factories to Sheridan (platted 1860). The interurban arrived just after 1900, when the Union Traction Company constructed a line through Carmel, Noblesville, Cicero, Arcadia, and Atlanta. Also on the line was a new community, HOME PLACE, platted in 1914 near College Avenue and 106th Street.
When natural gas was discovered in the eastern part of the county in the 1880s, industries moved to areas such as Noblesville to take advantage of the cheap fuel. The gas wells gave out after 1900, though some of the industries remained.
Despite moderate growth, Hamilton County was primarily rural until after World War II. In 1950 there were 28,500 residents. Ten years later the population had increased by 41 percent, followed by a 35-percent jump between 1960 and 1970. From 1970 to 1990 the number of residents doubled from 54,000 to nearly 109,000. Officials project 134,000 residents by 2000.
Southern Hamilton County, adjacent to Indianapolis, has experienced the greatest amount of commercial and residential development. As Indianapolis expanded, suburban sprawl spilled over the county line. The improvement and extension of major thoroughfares, such as Meridian Street and Keystone Avenue, and the construction of 1-465 in the late 1960s and early 1970s made Hamilton County accessible. More recently, 1-69 has spurred extensive commercial growth for FISHERS, while CARMEL has benefited from intensive development along U.S. 31. Northwest of Noblesville, Morse Reservoir, constructed 1953-1956, attracted its first residential subdivisions in 1971.
Change has come suddenly and dramatically for once tranquil communities such as Carmel (established 1837) and Fishers (platted 1872). In 1960 Carmel counted about 1,400 residents; by 1990 its population was 25,000. Fishers posted a population of about 600 in 1970, 2,000 in 1980, and over 7,500 in 1990. Within the next decade an additional 10,000 new residents are expected to settle in Hamilton Proper, a development on the east side of Fishers. As available land continues to be converted to homes and offices, Noblesville and Westfield are predicted to be the next boomtowns, along with areas near the MICHIGAN ROAD (U.s. 421) in the county's southwestern section.
Not only is Hamilton County the fastest growing county in the state, in 1989 it also ranked first in median family income ($51,000) and median price of homes ($106,000). Most residents are employed in service industries, followed by the retail trade, and finance, insurance, and real estate. Over 53 percent commute to jobs outside the county, particularly to Marion County.
In the 1990s explosive development has created problems such as an overloaded infrastructure and crowded schools, yet Hamilton County residents hope future growth can be controlled and managed.
|*History Data Source: The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994) Edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows.