Lafayette, the small city in the great state of Indiana, doesn’t skimp on its charms.
Modern Lafayette has its charms as well. A side trip to the Lafayette Brewing Company on Main Street is a must on any itinerary. Ten different beers have been brewed here since 1993, each with its own distinctive character. The popular “Tippecanoe Common Ale,” for example, contains Amarillo hops that are grown by only one farm, located in the state of Washington. It is to that the beer owes its fruity taste.
Welcome to Lafayette in the great state of Indiana. It is located 100 kilometers (63 miles) northwest of Indianapolis and 200 kilometers (105 miles) southeast of Chicago. Together with West Lafayette, the city becomes Greater Lafayette with 80,000 inhabitants. The Wabash River runs between them, adding significantly to the city center’s appeal as well as providing an ideal setting for the many music and cultural festivals.
The suburbs may look like those in any other American city: the Wörwag plant is located in a typical commercial area on Kossuth Street, along with shopping centers, motels, gas stations, and fast food restaurants.
The historic center, however, is characterized by Victorian buildings, rustic shops, and the local art scene. The old court house with its distinctive dome embellishes the city center as much as the bars, taverns and restaurants do. Axl Rose, singer in the rock band Guns N’ Roses, was born in Lafayette. Bernadette’s Barber Shop is striking in its own unique way —you can have your beard trimmed there for $5. But beyond the women’s and men’s haircuts that Kate Sweeney and Kristen Rupp spiff up their customers with, the shop interior fascinates with its mix of kitsch and art on the walls and in the furnishings. America straight up.
The 40,000 students, including 8,000 from 120 different countries, also exert a major influence on the city’s atmosphere. Purdue University’s strength in engineering—and particularly in aviation and spaceflight technology—has made it one of the most prestigious universities in that field in the country. Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, the first and last (for now) men on the moon are among its graduates.
A puzzling star
Back to the starting point of the tour: the Triple XXX menu not only pays homage to the city’s famous natives of the past, but also living legends. The “Boudia” sandwich was added to the menu in honor of David Boudia. In 2012, the high diving champion won Olympic gold in London.
So many stars, including a puzzling one. When asked why Lafayette is also called “Star City,” not even Hancock is able to answer that. His colleague Derek Stetler can’t get the question out of his head, so he does some research. The result: when Lafayette became Indiana’s leading trade center in 1825, thanks to the Wabash River, it was given that nickname. The city flag still has the star emblazoned on it as testimony to that past.
Text: Michael Thiem
Photos: Laurent Burst