Mishawaka’s recorded history began with the discovery of bog iron deposits at the beginning of the 1830s. Settlers arriving to mine the deposits founded the town of St. Joseph Iron Works in 1831. Within a few years, the town had a blast furnace, a general store, a tavern, and about 200 residents. Business prospered, and in 1833 St. Joseph Iron Works, Indiana City, and two other adjacent small towns were incorporated to form the city of Mishawaka.
The Mishawaka post office has been in operation since 1833.
In September 1872, a fire destroyed three quarters of Mishawaka’s business district. However, the citizens rebuilt and attracted new industry. The Dodge Manufacturing Company, Perkins Windmills and the Mishawaka Woolen and Rubber Company (later Ball Band, then Uniroyal) all helped the town to prosper. Mishawaka grew through both industry and agriculture. In the late 19th century, Mishawaka became known as the "Peppermint Capital of the World", since the area's rich black loam produced great quantities of mint.
From 1906 to 1915, Mishawaka was the manufacturing home of the luxurious American Simplex motor car. Four American Simplex autos entered the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. One Simplex crashed, killing the mechanic riding with the driver, while the other Mishawaka cars finished sixth, eighth and twentieth.
Ball Band made rubber garments and was hit by a major strike in 1931. It flourished in the 1940s, finally closing in 1997 in the face of cheaper imports. Manufacturing in Mishawaka peaked in the 1940s and began a slow decline due to industrial restructuring. The economic base shifted to retail services and small industry.
In 1979, University Park Mall opened north of Mishawaka. In 1990, AM General began producing the Hummer in its Mishawaka plant. The MV-1 is a purpose-built taxicab and replaces the planned Standard Taxi; it was developed in collaboration with AM General. The car is built in Mishawaka at an AM General plant. AM General will begin making Mercedes vehicles at this plant in 2015.A Business Week Magazine Best Place to Raise Your Kids 2010: Indiana
Old-fashioned neighborhoods are found across the city. Many of the newer residential subdivisions that have been developed within the city in recent years have adopted design guidelines to produce the "hometown" neighborhood feel and encourage community spirit.
The city continually upgrades and develops new neighborhood park and recreation facilities. A total of 29 parks allow Mishawaka residents to golf, play ball, fish and exercise. In 1968, the city opened an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool and an adjacent ice skating rink at Merrifield Park. On the south side, Mishawaka's George Wilson Park is home to the city's most popular winter toboggan spot, as well as an 18-hole frisbee golf course. Some of the city's Italian immigrants and their descendants still play traditional games such as bocce, and a few ethnic Belgians continue to raise and race homing pigeons. The city has hosted the nation's oldest and largest wiffleball tournament, the World WiffleBall Championship, held at Rose Park’s 22-field wiffleball complex until 2012.
The city's three high schools (Mishawaka High School, Penn High School, and Marian High School) have won a combined 11 state championships in football since 1920. Soest, Germany
Shiojiri, Nagano, Japan
Beutter Park - The new park includes a river race with elliptical-shaped overlook weirs and fiber-optic underwater lighting, two connecting bridges across the St. Joseph River race to the park, the Mishawaka Riverwalk, the "Shards" sculpture, and an 800-foot perennial garden.
Battell Park Historic District, has a WPA-built band shelter and terraced rock garden.
Old Mishawaka Carnegie Library on N. Hill St, now a private residence
Shiojiri Garden, located in Merrifield Park, is a Japanese strolling garden that symbolizes the Sister-City relationship between Mishawaka and Shiojiri City, Japan.
The Beiger Mansion, built in 1903 and restored in 1973, was gutted by arson in 1974. The building has since been renovated. It is operated as a bed-and-breakfast and events facility.
The Otis R. Bowen Museum, located on the campus of Bethel College, houses memorabilia and artifacts related to Dr. Otis Bowen's years as Governor of Indiana and Secretary of Health and Human Services. It has a copy of the Otis Bowen (bust).
In addition to the Battell Park Historic District, Beiger Mansion, and Old Mishawaka Carnegie Library, the Dodge House, Eller-Hosford House, Ellis-Schindler House, Kamm and Schellinger Brewery, Merrifield-Cass House, and Normain Heights Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Tivoli Theater demolished in 2005, was formerly listed.
According to the 2010 census, Mishawaka has a total area of 17.348 square miles (44.93 km2), of which 17 square miles (44.03 km2) (or 97.99%) is land and 0.348 square miles (0.90 km2) (or 2.01%) is water.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $33,986, and the median income for a family was $41,947. Males had a median income of $33,878 versus $23,672 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,434. About 7.3% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.7% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 48,252 people, 21,343 households, and 11,730 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,838.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,095.9/km2). There were 24,088 housing units at an average density of 1,416.9 per square mile (547.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.1% White, 6.9% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.6% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.5% of the population.
There were 21,343 households of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.0% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.92.
The median age in the city was 34.7 years. 23.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.3% were from 25 to 44; 23.7% were from 45 to 64; and 13.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.1% male and 52.9% female.
Mishawaka is served by TRANSPO municipal bus system, which also serves South Bend and several smaller suburbs in South Bend-Mishawaka metropolitan region. The Interurban Trolley's Bittersweet/Mishawaka route stops at Martin's Supermarket, connecting riders to the city of Elkhart and the town of Osceola. The closest Amtrak station and the closest commercial airport are both located in western South Bend. Indiana Toll Road, which is Interstate 80 and Interstate 90.
U.S. Route 20
Indiana State Road 23
Indiana State Road 331
Indiana State Road 933
Bethel College is an accredited evangelical Christian liberal arts school with 1,700 students.
Public schools in Mishawaka are operated by the School City of Mishawaka.
Mishawaka Public Schools:Twin Branch Elementary School
John Young Middle School
Mishawaka High School
Penn High School
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend operates four private Catholic schools in Mishawaka, including Marian High School.
One major daily newspaper serves the Michiana Metro area, the South Bend Tribune. It is distributed throughout the Michiana region and publishes five editions including a Metro edition, Mishawaka edition, Michigan edition, Penn-Harris-Madison East edition and a Marshall edition.
Mishawaka has a wide variety of local radio broadcast available in the area. Stations' programming content contains a wide variety including public radio, classical music, religious, country, and urban contemporary among others. For more information, see List of Radio Stations in Mishawaka, Indiana.
As of 2013, the South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart designated market area is the 95th largest in the United States, with 319,860 (0.3% of the US population) homes. Most of the major television networks have affiliates in the Michiana area.
Mishawaka located stations include WSBT-TV (CBS), WBND-LD (ABC), WCWW-LD (CW) and WMYS-LD (My Network TV). Stations located in nearby South Bend, IN include WNDU-TV (NBC), WNIT-TV (PBS) and WHME-TV (LeSEA). WSJV (Fox) also broadcasts in the Michiana area from Elkhart, IN.
One legend holds that the city is named after Mishawaka, daughter of Shawnee Chief Elkhart. Although Native Americans do not have royalties, in the 19th century, "princess" was a term often used to describe a tribal Chief's daughter. According to the story, the Shawnee were permitted to settle on Potawatomi lands in the late 18th century, and Potawatomi Chief Grey Wolf soon fell in love with Mishawaka. She rejected his advances and pledged her love to a white trapper, known only as Deadshot. A war between the two tribes ensued, and Grey Wolf captured Mishawaka and threatened to kill her unless she married him. Deadshot followed him, however, and the two men fought to the death. Grey Wolf died, but not before stabbing Mishawaka in the breast. She recovered, but died in 1818 at age 32. She was supposedly buried near Lincoln Park, where a bronze marker recounts the legend.