Calumet City, Illinois
One of the two smiley face water towers in Calumet City
One of the two smiley face water towers in Calumet City
Official seal of Calumet City, Illinois
Location of Calumet City in Cook County, Illinois.
Location of Calumet City in Cook County, Illinois.
Calumet City is located in Greater Chicago
Calumet City
Calumet City
Location of Calumet City in Greater Chicago Area
Calumet City is located in Illinois
Calumet City
Calumet City
Location of Calumet City in Illinois
Calumet City is located in the United States
Calumet City
Calumet City
Location of Calumet City in the USA
Coordinates: 41°36′51″N 87°32′47″W / 41.61417°N 87.54639°W / 41.61417; -87.54639
Country United States
Incorporated (Village)February 13, 1893
(as West Hammond)[1]
Incorporated (City)1924
(as Calumet City)[2][3][4]
 • TypeCouncil-Mayor
 • MayorThaddeus Jones (D)
 • Total7.32 sq mi (18.96 km2)
 • Land7.20 sq mi (18.64 km2)
 • Water0.12 sq mi (0.32 km2)  1.64%
 • Total36,033
 • Density5,005.97/sq mi (1,932.85/km2)
Standard of living (2009-11)
 • Per capita income$20,390
 • Median home value$121,900
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s)708
FIPS code17-10487

Calumet City (/ˌkæljʊˈmɛt/ KAL-yuu-MET) is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 36,033 at the 2020 census.[6] It is part of the Chicago metropolitan area.


The word Calumet is the Miꞌkmaq and French word for a Ceremonial pipe as used by Native Americans.


Calumet City (commonly referred to locally as "Cal City") was founded in 1893 when the villages of Schrumville and Sobieski Park merged under the name of West Hammond, since it lies on the west side of the Illinois-Indiana line from Hammond, Indiana.[1]

In 1916, when alcohol was prohibited in Indiana, West Hammond became a preferred location for drinkers coming from northwest Indiana.[7] Bootleggers including Al Capone built on this basis once the Prohibition era arrived, and West Hammond gained the nickname of "Sin City".[7]

West Hammond became known for illegal alcohol consumption, gambling, and prostitution.[7] In 1923, residents wishing to rid the city of its reputation voted to change the name from West Hammond to Calumet City.[7][3]

Frank LaPorte is believed to have been the member of the Chicago Outfit who was most responsible for developing and maintaining the "Sin Strip" area of Calumet City.[8] Police avoided Sin Strip and risked violence if they tried to make an arrest.[9]

In 1959, the state of Illinois conducted a police raid that resulted in 98 arrests and the seizure of business records.[10] An article published in Chicago Daily News on June 2, 1959, exposed LaPorte as being instrumental in the illegal activities in Calumet City.[10]

In 1995, the city began demolishing bars and taverns in the "Sin Strip" area.[11][12]


According to the 2021 census gazetteer files, Calumet City has a total area of 7.32 square miles (18.96 km2), of which 7.20 square miles (18.65 km2) (or 98.31%) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.31 km2) (or 1.69%) is water.[13]

Surrounding areas

In addition to being bordered to the east by Hammond, it is also bordered by Burnham and Chicago to the north, Lansing to the south, and South Holland and Dolton to the west.

  Chicago / Burnham
  Dolton Hammond
  Dolton / South Holland   Hammond
  South Holland Munster


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
2010[15] 2020[16]

As of the 2020 census[17] there were 36,033 people, 14,166 households, and 8,607 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,921.20 inhabitants per square mile (1,900.09/km2). There were 16,196 housing units at an average density of 2,211.96 per square mile (854.04/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 72.64% African American, 9.74% White, 0.65% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 10.44% from other races, and 6.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.97% of the population.

There were 14,166 households, out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.65% were married couples living together, 26.42% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.24% were non-families. 36.79% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.38 and the average family size was 2.56.

The city's age distribution consisted of 23.5% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 26% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,640, and the median income for a family was $55,612. Males had a median income of $34,474 versus $32,079 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,688. About 15.9% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.6% of those under age 18 and 10.9% of those age 65 or over.

Calumet City, Illinois – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2000[18] Pop 2010[15] Pop 2020[16] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 13,421 4,928 2,676 34.35% 13.30% 7.43%
Black or African American alone (NH) 20,530 25,888 25,959 52.55% 69.89% 72.04%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 47 58 51 0.12% 0.16% 0.14%
Asian alone (NH) 205 108 50 0.52% 0.29% 0.14%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 16 7 4 0.04% 0.02% 0.01%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 31 31 116 0.08% 0.08% 0.32%
Mixed race or Multiracial (NH) 579 448 701 1.48% 1.21% 1.95%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 4,242 5,574 6,476 10.86% 15.05% 17.97%
Total 39,071 37,042 36,033 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

Arts and culture

A landmark and point of pride among Cal City residents is the pair of large water towers painted like the popular "Have a Nice Day" smiley faces which are located on Ring Road near River Oaks Mall, the other State Street near Interstate 94.[19]


Calumet City has a Mayor-Council type government.

The city has 7 Wards.

Calumet City is in Illinois's 2nd congressional district.

The mayor of Calumet City is currently Thaddeus Jones. He has served as Mayor since being elected to the office in 2021.[20]

Mayors of Calumet City


Calumet City is served by several elementary school districts:[37]

The city is served by two high school districts:


Pace provides bus service on multiple routes connecting Calumet City to destinations across the Southland.[44]

Notable people

In popular culture

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Calumet City is featured or mentioned in a number of major movies. John Belushi's "Joliet Jake" and Dan Aykroyd's "Elwood" characters from The Blues Brothers were born in Calumet City, and so is the orphanage they grew up in, which they save "on a mission from God" by paying $5,000 in property taxes from a $10,000 record deal at their concert, as well as "Ray's Music Exchange" that holds the famed Ray Charles "Shake Your Tail-Feather" scene of the movie. In the book and film The Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill is thought to be hiding in Calumet City, when he is actually in Belvedere, Ohio. The Calumet City scenes in the film were filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, however. Lily Tomlin's prim but assertive housewife/spokesperson "Mrs. Judith Beasley" is said to be a resident of Calumet City. She said, "Hi. I am not an actress, but a real person like yourself."

Calumet City is also referenced by a number of popular music acts. The Black Crowes included a video of the Smiley Towers in their 1990 video for "Hard to Handle". A photograph of the "Dolton" smiley water tower is featured on the back of the Dead Kennedys album Plastic Surgery Disasters. Rapper Twista has referenced Calumet City. Kanye West's reference to Calumet in his 2005 song "Drive Slow" does not refer to Calumet City, but rather to Calumet High School, which was located in the South Side of Chicago and not in Calumet City.

The Smiley Tower is also featured in the movie Natural Born Killers; it is seen out the window of Mallory's family home (part of that movie was filmed in Hammond, Indiana). In the Nine Inch Nails music video on the director's cut of the same film, the Smiley Tower and Dolton Avenue/State Street is featured.

The founders of the Calumet Baking Powder Company adopted its brand name from the original Native American word for the land that became Calumet City. They later named one of thoroughbred horse racing's most famed and successful enterprises, Calumet Farm, after the company.

In 2004, Alan Keyes purchased a raised ranch house in Calumet City to establish residency in Illinois so he could run for the U.S. Senate in place of Jack Ryan against Barack Obama, although instead of residing in the house, he officially moved into an apartment elsewhere in town, on Garfield Avenue.

In 2010, pop music group Hanson remade the "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene from The Blues Brothers for the music video for their hit "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, paying homage to Calumet City's Ray's Music Exchange, John Belushi, and Ray Charles.

Jean Shepherd (writer and narrator of the classic movie A Christmas Story) in radio broadcasts from WOR radio, New York in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and in his PBS specials of the 1970s and 1980s, and his many books, often refers to it as Cal City or just Calumet. He grew up next door in Hammond, Indiana.


  1. ^ a b "Calumet City History". City of Calumet City, Illinois. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  2. ^ United States of America Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 90th Congress Second Session. United States Government Printing Office. 1968. pp. 16332–16333. 1924—West Hammond changed its name to Calumet City.
  3. ^ a b (1993). "Calumet City Centennial Celebration". Illinois: Centennial History Committee.
  4. ^ Enke, Anne (2007). Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 284. ISBN 978-0822340836. Until 1924, Calumet City was known as West Hammond, Illinois. Separated from Hammond, Indiana, by State Line Road, saloons and brothels settled on the Illinois side before, during, and after Prohibition.
  5. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  6. ^ "Calumet City city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Keating, Ann Durkin (2008). Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0226428833.
  8. ^ Lombardo, Robert M. (2013). Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia. University of Illinois Press. pp. 183–184. ISBN 978-0252094484.
  9. ^ "Glitter Fades: Calumet City's Sin Strip Loses to Suburban Respectability". The Cincinnati Enquirer. June 17, 1962. Retrieved September 6, 2023. Everything was on sale in 'Sin Strip' and policemen stayed away from the row. Any officer who tried to make an arrest was generally asking for a beating up.
  10. ^ a b Luzi, Matthew J. (2012). The Boys in Chicago Heights: The Forgotten Crew of the Chicago Outfit. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-1609497330.
  11. ^ "Redemption is Near for Calumet City's 'Sin Strip'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. July 18, 1995. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  12. ^ Penn, Mary Sue (September 12, 1995). "City Levels Tavern in 'Sin Strip' Area". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  13. ^ "Gazetteer Files". Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  14. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  15. ^ a b "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Calumet City, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  16. ^ a b "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Calumet City, Illinois". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  17. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  18. ^ "P004: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2000: DEC Summary File 1 – Calumet City, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  19. ^ "The Smiley Towers". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011.
  20. ^ "Office of the Mayor". The City of Calumet City. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  21. ^ "Hammond's Mayor Loses". Freeport Daily Bulletin. March 10, 1915 – via
  22. ^ "West Hammond takze mialo wczoraj wybory". Dziennik Chicagoski (in Polish). April 21, 1915 – via
  23. ^ a b c Gaines, William (June 15, 1972). "Stefaniak Sensitive to Flux, Stability". The Chicago Tribune – via
  24. ^ "Jaranowski Wins Election". The Chicago Tribune . March 11, 1925 – via
  25. ^ a b c "Spirited Races Bring Out Heavy Vote In Villages". The Chicago Tribune . April 16, 1941 – via
  26. ^ "Mayors of Four towns in Cook County Beaten". The Chicago Tribune. April 17, 1935 – via
  27. ^ a b "Illinois Cities Name Officials, Vote On Issues". The Decatur Daily Review . April 18, 1945 – via
  28. ^ "Calumet City Voters Elect Reform mayor". The Chicago Tribune. April 22, 1953 – via
  29. ^ West, Paul (April 9, 1961). "Vote April 18 in Calumet and Lansing". The Chicago Tribune – via
  30. ^ Bing, J. Edward (September 1, 1961). "Calumet City Mayor To Pick Zone Board". The Chicago Tribune. pp. B1, B4 – via
  31. ^ Hallahan, Kathleen (February 2, 1972). "Breclaw Sets Sights On Permanent Mayoral Seat". The Daily Calumet. pp. 1, 3 – via
  32. ^ a b Gaines, William (June 7, 1992). "Stefaniak New Mayor in Cal City". The Chicago Tribune – via
  33. ^ "Incumbent mayor Stefanial Defeats 2 in Cal City race". The Daily Calumet. April 19, 1973 – via
  34. ^ Shnay, Jerry; Poe, Janita (April 21, 1993). "Oak Lawn Bucks Anti-Incumbert Drive". The Chicago Tribune – via
  35. ^ a b "Garrison v. Calumet City, Illinois". July 20, 2006.
  36. ^ "Calumet City gets new mayor". The Chicago Tribune . September 3, 2003.
  37. ^ "Calumet City :: Illinois". Archived from the original on October 14, 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2006.
  38. ^ "Welcome to Calumet City School District 155 in Calumet City, IL". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  39. ^ "School District 149". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  40. ^ "Lincoln Elementary School District 156". Lincoln Elementary School District 156. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  41. ^ "Home - Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District 157". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  42. ^ "Thornton Township High Schools District 205 / Overview". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  43. ^ "Thornton Fractional High School District #215". Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  44. ^ "RTA System Map" (PDF). Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  45. ^ "Landon Cox". Cincinnati Bengals. Archived from the original on September 1, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011. High School: Thornton Fractional North High School (Calumet City, Illinois)
  46. ^ Heise, Kenan (May 6, 1988). "Joseph F. Fanta, 74, Former State Legislator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 6, 2024. Mr. Fanta, a native of Calumet City, graduated from Lane Technical High School and attended Northwestern University
  47. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1997-1998,' Biographical Sketch of Arline M. Fantin, pg. 85
  48. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1993-1994,' Biographical Sketch of Frank Giglio, pg. 80
  49. ^ "John Jurkovic". Football 2011. Archived from the original on November 22, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011. High School: Thornton Fractional North (Calumet City, IL)
  50. ^ Foltman, Bob (May 3, 2001), "WMVP shuffles afternoon lineup: Low ratings cost Simonson-Canellis", Chicago Tribune, retrieved May 11, 2011, Jurkovic, who played with the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring in 1999, was voted the NFL's funniest player in a Sport Magazine poll in 1998. He is a Calumet City native and a graduate of Thornton Fractional North High School.
  51. ^ anonymous (n.d.). "Mirko Jurkovic". Notre Dame Athletics. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  52. ^ Ford, Liam; Mendell, David (August 13, 2004). "Keyes sets up house in Cal City". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  53. ^ Hamnik, Al (September 11, 2010), "Cal City's Tomczak won't ever forget 'miracle' ride", Northwest Indiana Times, retrieved May 11, 2011, They had accepted Tomczak, the rookie, and occasionally he was allowed to play among them. "It was a miracle ride for me," the T.F. North grad and former Ohio State star said.
  54. ^ Myslenski, Skip; Kay, Linda (September 17, 1986), "Planning ahead: Mike Tomczak reached inside the breast...", Chicago Tribune, retrieved May 11, 2011, Both Jo Ann and Ron Tomczak, who coached Mike at Thornton Fractional North, dashed the theory that their son had a case of the jitters Sunday.
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