Hammond is considered part of the Chicago metropolitan area and has an approximate population of 78,292 residents (2006). The first permanent settlement in the area was established by German settlers around 1847 between the Grand and Little Calument Rivers on the south end of Lake Michigan. For many years before and during the first years of Hammond's history the area was a well-traveled route for American Indian tribes, settlers moving further west and stagecoach lines. With a convenient location and abundant fresh water from Lake Michigan, the area soon grew to the city it is today.
From its early industrial, agricultural and transportation businesses, the city still enjoys economic prosperity from businesses like Cargill, Dietrich Industries, Horseshoe Casino, Lear Corporation, and Unilever. The city also is an academic center that fuels its workforce and social life from Calument College of St. Joseph, Purdue University at Calument and Kaplan College.
There are outdoor recreation opportunities in an extensive park system maintained by the city. The parks provide biking, hiking, team sporting fields, playgrounds, picnic facilities and more. Some of these parks incluce Optimist Park, Indi-Illi Park, Conkey Park, Glendale Park, Edison Park, Phrommer Park, Forsyth Park, Hessville Park, and State Street Commercial Historic District. Other attractions in the area celebrate the city's history and support culture, the arts and literacy. These include the Little Red School House, Calumet Area Literacy Council, and the Hammond Historical Society.