Mystery of Pawnee, Indiana SOLVED

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" is located in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. A big fan of the show, I realized the producers had provided enough clues to make it possible to locate the exact position of Pawnee on the Indiana map. That's right, our team of TV forensic scientists have cracked the code and discovered the city's "actual" location. Watch the video!

25 comments:

  1. OK, third comment from me today. Love your blog. Can't wait for the book.

    I love "Parks and Recreation" too. You should do the same for the town of Orson, Indiana, from ABC's "The Middle." Have there ever been 2 TV shows on at the same time set in the Hoosier state?

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    1. What part of Indiana do you think Orson is located. From the clues stated in the show, I think it's located somewhere between Indianapolis and Richmond in Central Eastern Indiana. 1) in a Thanksgiving episode, Frankie laments not being able to shop with her Mom on Black Friday. She says that every year she meets her Mom halfway in Decatur. 2) In the Brown Country episode, the family leaves Frankie home alone for a well deserved day to herself. I can't image the family driving more than an hour to an hour and a half to go anywhere. 3) In the Superbowl episode, Frankie is sent as an attendant at a Satellite site in Orson, again, I don't think that satellite site would be more than an hour away. 4) When Axl is offered a football scholarship at fictional Eastern Indiana University, the family is happy that the college is located so nearby. Based on location of the major universities in Indiana, the only place you could locate Eastern Indiana U, would be directly east between Indy and Richmond. 5) When Sue's boyfriend moves to Zionsville, they mention that would keep a long distance affair and could visit occasionally, once more, I can't imagine they being more that a hour apart. Zionsville is located just north of Indy about an hour from the Indy/Richmond area. These are just a few examples. What do you think?

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    2. According to a news story from Indianapolis, the two co-creators of "The Middle" wanted the show based in Jasper, Indiana but didn't want the legal hassles of using a real town name. Jasper is located southwest of Bloomington. Both co-creators went to Indiana University in Bloomington. One is from Muncie, Indiana and the other from Chicago.

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    3. In the "camping" episode, Ron Swanson show a map of pawnee county, in the middle is a lake.. The shape of the lake matches potaka lake, which is 20 miles from jasper..

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    4. Episode 4 of season 1 of The Middle entitled "The Trip," shows a map of Orson being in between Indy and Bloomington FWIW.

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  2. You made a mistake. The distance is "over" 100 miles from Terre Haute, so Pawnee's location should be on the arc between the two intersections, not at one of the two points. You can rule put some of the points which are in other states, but there is not enough information to determine the exact location unless there are other clues.

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  3. I dont know if anyone else noticed, but in your book at the "Half-bred tracts" page, there is a Pawnee too (The Map is the one that is on the lower left side, near the 1st Guide Mer. East)

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  4. Im from Terre Haute Indiana! I loved this post and love your site!

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  5. I live in Muncie, used to live a few miles North of Henryville, which is pretty much on the exact opposite side of I-65 as Pawnee (apparently). Geographically, you got Pawnee down pat, but it shows major loopholes in the writer's cultural understanding of Indiana.

    The only towns in the 812 even vaguely similar to Pawnee are Bloomington, Columbus, and Madison--all of which are too far North of where they describe. Still retaining the "90 from Indy, over 100 from Terre Haute" rule puts you around the Fort Wayne area, and Fort Wayne (like Pawnee) has a notorious obesity problem--but, you're right, that part of Indiana is way too flat to have hills in historic paintings.

    The first time I saw Parks & Rec, I was with my Hoosier fiance--yeah, that's how I ended up moving to this state, like everyone else who isn't originally from here--and he complained the whole time that Hoosiers don't talk like they do on Parks & Rec. They -really- don't talk like that around New Albany, which is pretty much just Kentucky.

    Culturally, Pawnee is clearly based on Muncie. This is evidenced when Pawnee's Venezuelan sister city comes and mocks Pawnee's poor city planning. "Driving in I saw at tattoo parlor next to a school next to a Taco Bell..." One of Muncie's main roads contains an elementary school next to a secondhand/pawn shop next to a Pizza King/dive bar. "Why does this blip on the map have its own tabloid news show, zoo, beauty pageant, periodicals, and thriving nightlife scene?" Why on Earth does Muncie have a major state university, arts co-ops & fairs, and bar scene?

    If Pawnee's culture were reflected in its geography, people would be speaking with Southern accents, and there wouldn't be a black person working for city government. (I'm just going to be completely honest about that one.) The writers really messed up and decided to base the town geographically in a place that doesn't do any justice to it culturally.

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    1. No southern accents on the show. If that location is correct then everybody on the show would have a southern draw.

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    2. Ummm,, incorrect. .I've lived in southern Indiana ALL MY LIFE. .and jasper for 25 years..birdseys IN also in Dubois county ten min from jasper..ALL MY LIFE right here..NO southern accent to be found or should I say heard outta me..but thanks for tryin ;-)

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  6. Even though Pawnee is said to be located in South Central Indiana, it's clearly based in Muncie. if you take a look at the map shown in one of the episodes (image here: http://parksandrecreation.wikia.com/wiki/Pawnee_Maps), you'll see basically the map of Muncie upside down, and mirrored. Well, not basically, it is actually the map upside down and mirrored. Muncie map: http://maps.google.com.br/maps?client=safari&rls=en&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&q=indiana+muncie+map&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x88153da6b0f5aeaf:0xb88aff25ae2c1ba7,Muncie,+IN,+USA&gl=br&sa=X&ei=HBo8UamiEo_K9gSOmICAAw&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

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    1. That's cool. Another central Pawnee map is actually the map of my hometown, Christchurch in New Zealand.

      http://goo.gl/hmFMpv

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  7. Thank you for your kind words, in fact I already know you (The Satellite Shop ) and your website, very interesting. The Satellite Shop .

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  9. There is actually an ep in which they refer to Pawnee's location in southwestern Indiana, which would put it on the other side of the state.

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  10. It was one of the slogans, and it is actually on the official website: Pawnee: the Akron of Southwest Indiana. (Click through: http://www.pawneeindiana.com/about/town-slogans.shtml)

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  11. Season 5 Episode 3 informs us that "Pawnee" is in the eastern time zone along with Washington DC. This rules out much of northwest and southwest Indiana and further supports you theories here. Great job, and thank you.

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  12. Uh oh! Well the lastest episode poses a problem to your theory. As Ann and Chris drive away for Michigan the camera pans up to show Lake Michigan in the background. So it must be in the North

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