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Indiana at the end of the 20th century


Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan

During the 1950s there was continued industrial growth in the state, particularly in the region along the Ohio River. This growth was aided by the improvement of transportation facilities. In 1956 the Indiana Toll Road was opened. In 1961 the Indiana Port Commission was established to plan and develop new deepwater facilities on Lake Michigan.

By 1960 Indiana had a population of 4,662,498. The numerical increase of 728,274 since 1950 was the largest ever recorded for a single decade in the state’s history. Indiana’s economic growth slowed during the national economic recessions of the 1970s and 1980s, mostly because of a deep slump in production by heavy industry. By 1983, the state’s unemployment rate was about 12 percent, one of the highest in the nation.

In the early 1980s, many farmers went deeply into debt and hundreds of farms went out of business. The state’s economy recovered in the late 1980s as some manufacturing industries made comebacks and as community, social, and personal service industries grew rapidly.

During the early years of the 1990s, Indiana’s economy continued to improve as service activities grew in the larger metropolitan areas and the state’s pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical industries underwent major expansions. Already Indiana had replaced Pennsylvania as the nation’s leading steel producer, and the port commission’s deepwater port on Lake Michigan, as well as its two river ports in southern Indiana, developed substantial international and national traffic. In 1995 plans for two additional automobile manufacturing plants in the state were announced, and the following year a major airline maintenance facility was opened at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Work also continued on an ambitious downtown development plan in Indianapolis, featuring the $300 million Circle Centre Mall that covers more than ten city blocks. Opened in 1995, its presence is complemented by renovations to the city’s convention center, new construction activities at White River State Park, and a new sports facility, Victory Field, completed in 1996 for the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team.

In the 1990s Indiana’s generally strong economy generated record low unemployment figures and a large state surplus, considerably in excess of $1 billion. The state’s income was augmented by revenue from newly instituted venues for gambling (at racetracks and riverboat casinos) and a state lottery begun in the late 1980s. The issue confronting state government was how to allocate the surplus responsibly as it continued its extensive reforms in public education and attempted to meet increasing needs in the criminal justice system and public transportation. In addition, the state was considering a larger role in management of medical and social programs previously handled by the federal government. It was uncertain how extensive these obligations would be and how much of the surplus should be devoted to them.

Plans for allocating revenues also had to consider demands for a general tax reduction. As Indiana entered the 21st century it was changing politically. In the 2008 presidential election Indiana voters supported a Democrat, Barack Obama, for the first time since 1964 when Lyndon Johnson defeated Republican Barry Goldwater. Indiana, however, returned popular Republican governor Mitch Daniels to a second term. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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