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History of Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington, the county seat of Monroe County, Indiana, made its beginning as a small settlement in 1816, after President James Monroe choose it as the site of the Indiana Seminary. The new settlement’s location on a trading route, and the availability of spring water attracted settlers. Following the creation of Monroe County in 1818, the settlement was given the designation of a town and was platted on April 11. Although the new town was named Bloomington, there is no precise evidence or record suggesting the basis on which the name was given. Some people say that the town was named so owing to the blooming flowers and foliage, which greeted the early settlers. Another theory suggests that the name was given in honor of William Bloom, one of the first settlers. A group of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from South Carolina known as the Covenanters had settled just outside Bloomington by 1821. Believing that slavery was a moral evil, the Covenanters provided a way station for escaped slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad in the period before and during the Civil War. Limestone quarrying was one of the earlier major industries in Bloomington, but the major reason for the town’s growth was Indiana University. It was established on the original site of the Indiana Seminary, in 1820. This university, which attracted students from various parts of the country, greatly contributed to the growth and development of the town. The New Albany and Salem Railroad reached Bloomington in 1854, giving the city convenient connections to the outside world. Bloomington was incorporated as a city in 1876 with Charles W. Henderson as mayor. Among the special features of Bloomington are the headquarters of the Kinsey Institute and the only Tibetan Cultural Center in America. Both the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and the Indiana Art Museum are on the IU campus. Wonderlab, the museum of science, health, and technology, focuses on the interests of children. Bloomington Hospital has reached the century mark, having been opened in 1905. The city relies on Indianapolis International Airport for air service.