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Madison, Indiana

Coordinates: 38°45′30″N 85°23′50″W / 38.75833°N 85.39722°W / 38.75833; -85.39722
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Madison, Indiana
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison
Flag of Madison, Indiana
Official seal of Madison, Indiana
"Madtown", "Princess of the Rivers"
"America's Hometown"
Location of Madison in Jefferson County, Indiana
Location of Madison in Jefferson County, Indiana
Coordinates: 38°45′30″N 85°23′50″W / 38.75833°N 85.39722°W / 38.75833; -85.39722
CountryUnited States
 • TypeMayor-council government
 • MayorBob Courtney (R)[1]
 • City8.92 sq mi (23.09 km2)
 • Land8.64 sq mi (22.38 km2)
 • Water0.28 sq mi (0.71 km2)  3.05%
Elevation866 ft (264 m)
 • City12,357
 • Density1,430.21/sq mi (552.23/km2)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code812
FIPS code18-45990[4]
GNIS feature ID2395805[3]

Madison is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Indiana, United States,[5] along the Ohio River. As of the 2010 United States Census its population was 11,967.[6][7] Over 55,000 people live within 15 miles (24 km) of downtown Madison. Madison is the largest city along the Ohio River between Louisville and Cincinnati. Madison is one of the core cities of the Louisville-Elizabethtown-Madison metroplex, an area with a population of approximately 1.5 million. In 2006, the majority of Madison's downtown area was designated a National Historic Landmark—133 blocks of the downtown area is known as the Madison Historic Landmark District.


Historic buildings line Main Street in Madison

Madison was laid out and platted in 1810, and the first lots were sold in 1811 by John Paul.[8] It had busy early years due to heavy river traffic and its position as an entry point into the Indiana Territory along the historic Old Michigan Road. Madison's location across the Ohio River from Kentucky, a slave state, made it an important location on the Underground Railroad, which worked to free fugitive slaves. George DeBaptiste's barbershop in town became a nerve center of the local group.[9] By 1850, Madison was the third-largest city in Indiana (after New Albany and Indianapolis), and among the 100 largest cities in the U.S.[10]

Indiana's first railroad, the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad, was built there from 1836 to 1847. Chartered in 1832 by the Indiana State Legislature as the Madison Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad, and construction begun September 16, 1836, the railroad was transferred to private ownership on January 31, 1843, as the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. Successful for more than a decade, the railroad went into decline and was sold at foreclosure in 1862, renamed the Indianapolis & Madison Railroad, and after a series of corporate transfers, became part of the massive Pennsylvania Railroad system in 1921. In March 1924, the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce was founded to aid area business growth and development. Conrail much later bought Pennsylvania Railroad, but the deal left out a 26-mile (42 km) stretch of track from North Vernon to Madison. Madison Port Authority purchased this, forming Madison Railroad in 1975.

Madison's days as a leading Indiana city were numbered, however, when river traffic declined and new railroads built between Louisville, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati tapped into Madison's trade network. As a result, Madison's growth did not continue at the same pace it had experienced before the Civil War. During the late nineteenth century, many new buildings were still being built, but in many cases older structures were modernized by adding cast-iron storefronts and ornamental sheet metal cornices. Some earlier buildings survived without major alterations, and the Madison National Landmark Historic District today contains examples of all the major architectural styles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from Federal to Art Moderne.

In 1952 the town of North Madison was annexed, becoming a neighborhood of the city, which aided in providing city services to new businesses started in the area.[11] A tornado in 1974 destroyed a number of buildings in the neighborhood.[11]

On January 11, 1992, Shanda Sharer was murdered in the city by four teenage girls.

National Register of Historic Places[edit]

Downtown Madison was granted National Historic Landmark District status in early 2006. On August 25, 2006, just months after the designation, a blaze severely damaged two historic downtown buildings, the Madison Elks Lodge and a former city hall building that was occupied by an insurance company.[12]

The Crawford-Whitehead-Ross House, Jefferson County Jail, Lanier Mansion, Madison Historic District, and Charles L. Shrewsbury House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[13]

Jefferson County Courthouse fire[edit]

The Jefferson County Courthouse dome engulfed in flames.

On May 20, 2009, the newly painted dome of the Jefferson County Courthouse caught fire. The blaze started around 6:15 pm. Smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air and flames rose out of the clock tower. The fire continued to burn for hours. Fire officials reported that the fire was tentatively under control just before 9:45 pm. No major injuries were reported. The dome of the courthouse was being painted in celebration of Madison's bicentennial. On May 28, 2009, the ruined dome was removed from the top of the courthouse in two pieces. Authorities stated that the cause of the fire was a contractor using an open-flame propane torch to solder two pieces of copper together in one of the built-in gutters on the north side of the roof.[14][15]

Super Outbreak of tornadoes[edit]

The 1974 Super Outbreak is the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York; and the Canadian province of Ontario. It extensively damaged approximately 900 square miles (2,300 km2) along a total combined path length of 2,600 miles (4,200 km).[16] The 1974 Super Outbreak remains the most outstanding severe convective weather episode of record in the continental United States. The outbreak far surpassed previous and succeeding events in severity, longevity and extent.

Shortly after an F-5 tornado struck Depauw, northwest of Louisville, the Hanover/Madison F4 twister formed near Henryville and traveled through Jefferson County, leveling many structures in the town of Hanover and in Madison. Eleven were killed in this storm, while an additional 300 were injured. According to WHAS-TV in Louisville, 90% of Hanover was destroyed or severely damaged, including the Hanover College campus. Despite the fact that no one was killed or seriously injured at the college, all but one of the college's 33 buildings were damaged, including two that were completely destroyed and six that sustained major structural damage. Hundreds of trees were downed, completely blocking every campus road. All utilities were knocked out and communication with those off campus was nearly impossible. Damage to the campus alone was estimated at $10 million. In Madison, seven fatalities took place, and about 300 homes were destroyed; the tornado also brushed the community of China, causing additional fatalities.

The same storm would later strike the Cincinnati area, producing multiple tornadoes including another F5.


Madison is located at 38°45′N 85°24′W / 38.750°N 85.400°W / 38.750; -85.400 (38.750, −85.395),[17] on the north side of the Ohio River. It is bordered to the south, across the river, by the city of Milton, Kentucky. U.S. Route 421 passes through the center of town, crossing the Ohio into Kentucky on the Milton–Madison Bridge. US-421 leads north 26 miles (42 km) to Versailles, Indiana, and south 23 miles (37 km) to Campbellsburg, Kentucky. Indiana State Road 7 has its southern terminus in Madison and leads northwest 23 miles (37 km) to Vernon. Indiana State Road 56, the Ohio River Scenic Byway, is Madison's Main Street, leading east (upriver) 20 miles (32 km) to Vevay and west 23 miles (37 km) to Scottsburg. Louisville is 48 miles (77 km) southwest of Madison by highway, and Cincinnati is 68 miles (109 km) to the northeast.

Madison is bordered to the west by Clifty Falls State Park, encompassing the canyon of Big Clifty Creek and its tributaries, with several waterfalls, as well as high ground rising 400 feet (120 m) above the Ohio River valley.

According to the 2010 census, Madison has a total area of 8.842 square miles (22.90 km2), of which 8.57 square miles (22.20 km2) (or 96.92%) is land and 0.272 square miles (0.70 km2) (or 3.08%) is water.[18]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Madison has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[19]


Historical population
Source: US Census Bureau

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $35,092, and the median income for a family was $46,241. Males had a median income of $32,800 versus $22,039 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,923. About 10.2% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.3% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[20] of 2010, there were 11,967 people, 5,048 households, and 2,951 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,396.4 inhabitants per square mile (539.2/km2). There were 5,787 housing units at an average density of 675.3 per square mile (260.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 2.8% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 5,048 households, of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.4% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.5% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the city was 42.2 years. 21% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 28.9% were from 45 to 64; and 17.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 44.8% male and 55.2% female.

Powerboat racing[edit]

Miss Madison is an H1 Unlimited hydroplane and the only community-owned unlimited hydroplane in the world.

Madison has a powerboat racing tradition dating back to at least 1911. In 1929, the city began holding an annual race, later called the Madison Regatta beginning in 1948. Since 1954, the Madison Regatta has held a high points Unlimited hydroplane race annually in early July. Although Madison has a population of only 12,000, the regatta maintains its place in Unlimited Hydroplane racing, hosting an H1 Unlimited race, whose other events are in Seattle, San Diego, Guntersville, Alabama, and Tri-Cities, Washington. The Madison Regatta draws about 70,000–100,000 people annually on the July 4 weekend. A week-long riverfront festival also surrounds this racing event.

A source of community pride is that Madison has the world's only community-owned unlimited hydroplane racer, Miss Madison, which began Unlimited-class racing in 1961. The boat, which has been known by various corporate sponsor names but was officially called U-6, traditionally finished near the bottom of the circuit. Before Anheuser-Busch dropped its sponsorship of hydroplane racing after the 2004 season, U-6 had won just six races using a variety of hulls. One of those wins was an upset in the 1971 Regatta, when by a mistake in the bidding process, the APBA Gold Cup was held in Madison for the first time, in which the low-budget team and its 1960-vintage hull defeated the well-funded corporate teams and their newer generation of "Thunderboats". The Gold Cup winner retired at the end of the year, taking second place in the overall national standings, and was replaced with a new Miss Madison in 1972. Newer hulls followed in 1978 and 1988. Madison hosted the APBA Gold Cup Race again in 1979 and 1980.

As a participant in the new H1 Unlimited series, the City of Madison team driver, Steve David, finished first in the H1 Unlimited national point drivers standings in both 2005 and 2006 driving U-6, now in the colors of sponsor Oh Boy! Oberto. In 2008, under the aegis of Miss Madison Incorporated and with a new hull built in 2007, the U-1 Miss Madison won its first H1 Unlimited National High Points Championship for Oh Boy! Oberto. On July 3, 2011, at Madison, David escaped serious injury but the hull was seriously damaged when the three-time defending national champion crashed into the U-96 Spirit of Qatar on the third lap of the championship heat after Qatar spun in a turn into the path of the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison. David and the repaired boat returned in time for the 2011 Columbia Cup, where it finished second (to U-96), then won the August 7 Albert Lee Appliance Cup in Seattle. In true Miss Madison tradition, the repairs to the hull are being defrayed by local fundraisers.

The Miss Madison's greatest accomplishment, when it seemingly came from out of nowhere to win the 1971 Gold Cup with an aged boat against powerful competitors such as Atlas Van Lines II and Miss Budweiser, was recreated in the semi-fictional film Madison.[21]

In 2013, Miss Madison/ Oh Boy! Oberto driver Steve David announced his retirement after his final run at the San Diego Sea Fair. On Friday, November 8, 2013, a retirement celebration was held at the Boneyard Grill on Madison's hilltop to celebrate David's 12-year tenure as the driver of Miss Madison's Oh Boy! Oberto.

The Madison-based team continues to compete in the H1 Unlimited championship, with driver Jimmy Shane and sponsor HomeStreet Bank, who have been with the squad since 2016.


Mayor : Bob Courtney Clerk-Treasurer : Katie Rampy Council President Pro-Tem : Curtis Chatham

City Council[edit]

Office Name Party
Councilman-at-Large Jim Bartlett Republican
Councilman-at-Large Daniel Dattilo Democrat
1st District Councilman Patrick Thevenow Republican
2nd District Councilman Amanda Creech Republican
3rd District Councilman Lucy Dattilo Republican
4th District Councilman Joshua Schafer Republican
5th District Councilman Curtis Chatham Republican (Council President)


  • Elected to fill vacated seat.

Damon Welch died in September 2019 and Bob Courtney was voted by the Republican Party to finish his term. Courtney was elected to a full term as mayor on November 5, 2019, winning with 62% of the vote.


Madison Consolidated Schools
  • Madison Consolidated High School
  • Madison Consolidated Junior High School
  • Ryker's Ridge Elementary School
  • Anderson Elementary School. (closed in 2012, reopened in 2019 following expansion)
  • Eggleston Elementary School (now closed, sold 2011)
  • Lydia-Middleton Elementary School
  • Canaan Elementary School, closed in 2010, reopened 2012 as Canaan Community Academy (a Charter School)
  • Deputy Elementary School
  • Dupont Elementary School (now closed, 2012)
  • E.O. Muncie Elementary School (now closed, 2019)
Southwestern Schools
Prince of Peace Catholic Schools
Other private schools

Madison has a branch of the Jefferson County Public Library.[23]

In popular culture[edit]

Two Hollywood films have been shot in Madison. In the summer of 1957 Madison was selected as the location for Some Came Running, which brought actors Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine to town. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards. For Some Came Running, released in 1958, director Vincente Minnelli selected Madison to represent the fictional town of Parkman in filming the James Jones novel. On September 3, 1999, the community held an organized celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the making of the film, which itself became the subject of a film documentary by Turner Classic Movies.

The city of Madison was both the subject and location for the film Madison, released in 2001. The filming brought notable stars such as Jim Caviezel, Bruce Dern, Paul Dooley, and Mary McCormack to town. Madison was released in 2001 and recounts the story of the city's hosting and winning the penultimate hydroplane racing event of 1971, echoing the movie Hoosiers.

A Netflix Docuseries titled Girls Incarcerated was filmed there about the former Madison Juvenile Correction Facility.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.madison-in.gov/egov/apps/staff/directory.egov?path=pro&usr=1253
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Madison, Indiana
  4. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Madison city, Indiana". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  7. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana. Chicago Printing Company. 1889. pp. 183.
  9. ^ Hudson, J. Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. McFarland, 2002. p117-118
  10. ^ U.S. Bureau of the Census. "Population of 100 Largest Urban Places 1850".
  11. ^ a b North Madison was once a Sleepy Town. By Phil Cole. Madison Courier, 25 July 2002. Accessed 3 April 2024.
  12. ^ "Fire Damages Historic Area in Indiana". New York Times. August 26, 2006. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  13. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Writer, Staff. "Fire severely damages historic Indiana courthouse". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  15. ^ "Cause of Jefferson Co. Courthouse fire identified-WEB ONLY". Indianapolis Business Journal. June 8, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  16. ^ Risk Assessment Models. "Analysis and reconstruction of the 1974 Tornado Super Outbreak" (PDF). Retrieved March 3, 2007.
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  18. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  19. ^ "Madison, Indiana Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.
  20. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  21. ^ Farley, Fred. "Miss Madison, the Gold Cup Champion - Prologue". www.missmadison.com. Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  22. ^ "Home".
  23. ^ "Indiana public library directory" (PDF). Indiana State Library. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  24. ^ The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861–65. Vol. VIII (Biographical). Madison, WI: Federal Publishing Company. 1908. pp. 397–398 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]