Vermilion was initially settled in the early 19th century and incorporated as a village in 1837. The city took its name from the nearby Vermilion River. It developed as a fishing and small boat harbor. In 1847 the Congress of the United States built the Vermilion Lighthouse to aid navigation on Lake Erie.
As commerce grew in larger nearby cities, the Vermilion River proved inadequate to large commercial traffic. Later, recreational boating became very popular. During the early 20th century the area became known as a resort community, featuring many beaches and cottages. Most structures were eventually converted to year-round use; many still are used as summer homes or vacation houses. Linwood Park in Vermilion is a good example.
Merging with the nearby village of Vermilion-on-the-Lake in 1960, Vermilion became a city, straddling Lorain and Erie counties.
A local non-profit group, Friends of Harbour Town, actively promotes tourism and the historical connection to Vermilion's roots as a maritime community, using the slogan "Harbour Town 1837".
Vermilion is located at 41°24′29″N 82°19′02″W (41.408005, -82.317254).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.8 square miles (28.0 km2), of which 10.7 square miles (27.6 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.53%, is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 10,594 people, 4,183 households, and 3,033 families residing in the city. The population density was 993.8 inhabitants per square mile (383.7/km2). There were 4,919 housing units at an average density of 461.4 per square mile (178.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.8% White, 0.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.
There were 4,183 households of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 27.5% were non-families. 22.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.91.
The median age in the city was 43.5 years. 22.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.6% were from 25 to 44; 31% were from 45 to 64; and 16.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,927 people, 4,254 households, and 3,113 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,012.6 people per square mile (391.0/km²). There were 4,713 housing units at an average density of 436.7 per square mile (168.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.8% White, 0.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.08% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.8% of the population.
There were 4,254 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.8% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.8% were non-families. 22.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,926, and the median income for a family was $57,311. Males had a median income of $41,269 versus $25,195 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,635. About 4.1% of families and 5.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.6% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.
Vermilion was once known as the "Village of Lake Captains", with many beautifully maintained captains' homes in its historic district. The Harbour Town Historic District also features housing styles from the Victorian, Italianate, Arts and Crafts, and Queen Anne eras. The Vermilion River endows marina facilities with more than 3,000 boat slips and ramps for easy access to the lake.
The Harbour Town 1837 Historic District is located in downtown Vermilion. It is the focal point for many professional offices, the city administration, the Chamber of Commerce, restaurants, shops, and marinas. Community-wide revitalization efforts have been promoted since the 1970s, encouraging property owners and citizens to retain the unique charm of their businesses and homes while maintaining high standards of care and construction. The Vermilion Lagoons, located on the east side of the Vermilion River, is considered one of the first planned residential neighborhoods on the water in the country. Construction started in 1928 by Louis A. Wells, a Cleveland contractor, who bought the land.
Sandy beaches, recreational boating, jet skis, canoeing, and sail boats adorn the Vermilion harbor, where ship building was once the major industry.
On summer nights, residents and visitors can congregate on the large deck at Main Street Beach to watch boats sail back and forth in front of the Lake Erie sunset and watch the Mystic Belle, a small paddle wheeler, offering rides on the Vermilion River. Children can attend a Sail Camp where they learn water safety and sailing. Vermilion is home to many world-renowned sailboat racers.
The Woollybear Festival is a one-day gathering that draws over 150,000 visitors to Vermilion and includes the longest parade in the state of Ohio. In the majority of years, the Vermilion High School Band Festival is held the night before the Woollybear Festival. Area high schools and the Vermilion High School Alumni Band take the field to entertain community members before the next day's parade.
The Festival of the Fish, held each June, is a three-day event, drawing people from Vermilion and the neighboring communities to take part in the Queen and Princess pageant, local talent concerts, parade, and concessions. Historic SummerFare, which features the Antique Craft and Boat Show, brings thousands of boat enthusiasts and aficionados to the harbor to see wooden boats from another era. Historic SummerFare also sponsors Antiques in the Park, the Community Chicken BBQ and Street Dance, and many family activities.
Concerts in the Park, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, occur during July and August each year. The concerts are open to everyone, free of charge, and feature a variety of entertainment from swing music to barbershop quartets. The Vermilion Area Archival Society, established in 2000, collects, stores, and indexes archival materials for research from the Vermilion area and provides assistance, as well as monthly programs, regarding the history and records of the area.
Vermilion has a wealth of art attractions. There are several art galleries in town that often display local works and hold showings of individual artists.
The Vermilion School System provides public school education for area children from ages K through 12th grade, with vocational and professional education opportunities at EHOVE Career Center. The Vermilion Institute of Technology (VIT) is a private, independent scholars institute involved in teaching and research. VIT delivers certification programs for electrical technicians, appliance repair and Structured Innovation and Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) for science, engineering, business, healthcare and government.
Lake Ridge Academy, a private grade school and high school in nearby North Ridgeville, offers daily school bus service for Vermilion students.
St. Mary’s parochial school has been serving preschool and grades K-6 since 1956
The Lucy Idol Center, located on the edge of town, offers non-residential care for disabled children and adults. Bowling Green State University (Firelands Campus) and Lorain County Community College, both accredited schools offering four-year and advanced degrees, are located within a twenty-minute drive of Vermilion.
Vermilion High School's sports teams are called the "Sailors".
Vermilion's sister city is Paimpol, France.Albert D. Baumhart, Jr., member of the United States House of Representatives
Phoebe Judson, American pioneer
Allie LaForce, Miss Ohio Teen USA 2005, Miss Teen USA 2005
Andy Oliver, Major League Baseball pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Lester Allan Pelton, inventor of the Pelton wheel impulse water turbine
Thomas L. Siebert, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden