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1910 U.S. Population Center.
1910 USA Population Center moved into downtown Bloomington, and so did its marker.

1910 U.S. Population Center

Field review by the editors.

Bloomington, Indiana

Every ten years the Census Bureau issues a report from which can be fixed a population center of the United States, "the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight." As early as the turn of the 20th century, towns along the ever-shifting population path began celebrating their centeredness with permanent monuments. The oldest known survivor of these, for the 1910 census, is in Bloomington, Indiana.

1910 U.S. Population Center.

It is not, however, without some controversy.

In July 1911 Professor William A. Cogshall, an Indiana University astronomer, took the Census Bureau data and determined that the Population Center was on the W. L. Moser farm, nine miles east of Bloomington. The Bloomington World-Courier jumped on this news and erected a cheap wooden marker, topped with a couple of small American flags, at the rural spot, described by Prof. Cogshall as "a hilly field, in which there are gullies and some underbrush, where screech owls, snakes, squirrels, and rabbits abound."

1910 Population Center marker.
Original 1910 Population Center and marker. It only lasted a month.

This close-but-not-close-enough Center made Bloomington's business community unhappy. Apparently word got back to the Census Bureau, because barely a month later it released a completely new set of data. Prof. Cogshall again crunched the numbers, and this time found that the Center was right in Bloomington, on a conveniently grassy and snake-free plot outside the Showers Furniture factory, the city's largest employer. An engraved limestone disk was quickly commissioned and placed on the spot in September 1911 with much ceremony.

Fifty years and five census's later, the Monroe County Historical Society learned that the limestone marker was in danger of being destroyed at the old factory site. It was moved to a place of honor on Bloomington's county courthouse lawn, and it's been there ever since. It doesn't actually mark the 1910 U.S. Population Center, but maybe it never did.

1910 U.S. Population Center

101 W. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN
Midtown. A large, limestone disk, set flat on the ground, on the south side of the Monroe County Courthouse, on the east side of the sidewalk leading north from W. Kirkwood Ave./5th St.
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