St. Charles, Illinois
City of St. Charles
Downtown St. Charles, with the Fox River and Municipal Center/City Hall)
STC (local abbreviation), St. Chuck
Pride of the Fox[1]
Location of St. Charles in Kane and DuPage Counties, Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 41°54′49″N 88°18′39″W / 41.913744°N 88.31085°W / 41.913744; -88.31085Coordinates: 41°54′49″N 88°18′39″W / 41.913744°N 88.31085°W / 41.913744; -88.31085
CountryUnited States
Founded1834 (as Charleston; changed to St. Charles in 1839)[2]
 • Total15.00 sq mi (38.85 km2)
 • Land14.40 sq mi (37.30 km2)
 • Water0.60 sq mi (1.55 km2)
 • Total32,974
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,283.66/sq mi (881.71/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code(s)630
FIPS code17-66703

St. Charles is a city[6] in DuPage and Kane counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. It lies roughly 40 miles (64 km) west of Chicago on Illinois Route 64. As of the 2010 census the population was 32,974,[7] and as of 2019 the population had decreased to an estimated 32,887.[8] The official city slogan is "Pride of the Fox", after the Fox River that runs through the center of town. St. Charles is part of a tri-city area along with Geneva and Batavia, all western suburbs of similar size and relative socioeconomic condition.


Early history

St. Charles was the location of the Native American community for the chief of the Pottawatomie that inhabited the area. A city park overlooking the river was dedicated to this Native American past.[9] After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the entire area of the Fox Valley was opened to American settlement. Evan Shelby and William Franklin staked the first claim in what is now St. Charles in 1833. They came back in 1834 with their families from Indiana, and were joined by over a dozen other families later that year. The township was initially known as Charleston, but this name was already taken by the downstate city of Charleston, Illinois, so the name of St. Charles (suggested by S. S. Jones, a lawyer) was adopted in 1839.[10] St. Charles became incorporated as a city February 9, 1839, and reincorporated October 17, 1874 (under the 1870 Illinois Constitution).[11]

Underground Railroad

There is widespread speculation of slavery-era Underground Railroad stations operating in St. Charles homes, complete with tunnels and false doorways. While these claims are not historically substantiated, there was an active abolitionist group operating in St. Charles around this time, called the Kane County Anti-Slavery Society. The Society was founded in 1842 and had about 180 members at its peak. The most plausible connection to the Underground Railroad in the town is the Wheeler House, built in St. Charles in 1837.

Transportation history

St. Charles was a very isolated place early on in its existence. The village was located three days away from Chicago, and the Fox River was not navigable for large boats. By the 1850s, St. Charles had begun construction of a plank road to Sycamore but turned down an offer by the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad to construct a line through the town, which was eventually built in nearby Elgin. Lack of regional connections in the early years kept the town relatively small. St. Charles was without a railroad until 1871 when a branch line from Geneva was constructed, and was without a direct connection to Chicago until the 1880s with the coming of the Chicago Great Western Railway.

Streetcar lines along the Fox River between Elgin and Aurora were built through the city in 1896, operated by the Aurora, Elgin and Fox River Electric company. A direct automobile route to Chicago, which eventually became Route 64 (Main Street), was constructed in 1920. Four Illinois state routes, including Routes 64, 38 (Lincoln Highway), 25 (5th Avenue) and 31 (2nd Street) now run through the city. Two major Kane County roads also cut through the city; Randall Road on the west side and Kirk Road on the east side.

Immigration history

St. Charles was also the place of settlement for diverse groups of European immigrants, including those from Ireland and Sweden during the 1840s and 1850s, and later, groups from Belgium and Lithuania.

COVID-19 pandemic

On April 25, 2020, the closure of the city's local meat processing plant owned by Smithfield Foods was ordered by the Kane County Health Department due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the meat industry in the United States.[12]


According to the 2010 census, St. Charles has a total area of 14.934 square miles (38.68 km2), of which 14.61 square miles (37.84 km2) (or 97.83%) is land and 0.324 square miles (0.84 km2) (or 2.17%) is water. The Fox River runs through downtown. Potawatomie Park, which sits on the river, is the largest park in St. Charles and a popular destination for both tourists and citizens tri-city area.[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)32,887[5]−0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

According to the 2000 census, population density was 1,993.9 inhabitants per square mile (769.8/km2). There were 11,072 housing units at an average density of 791.4 per square mile (305.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.81% White, 1.66% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.79% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 1.66% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 5.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 10,351 households, out of which 36.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out, with 27.8% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $75,181, and the median income for a family was $94,704.[14] Males had a median income of $55,864 versus $35,134 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,969. 3.4% of the population and 2.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.4% of those under the age of 18 and 3.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Government and infrastructure

State government

The Illinois Youth Center St. Charles (IYC St. Charles), a juvenile correctional facility of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, is in St. Charles. It opened in December 1904.[15]


The public education system in St. Charles is operated by the Community Unit School District 303, which currently has thirteen elementary schools: Anderson, Bell-Graham, Corron, Davis, Ferson Creek, Fox Ridge, Lincoln, Munhall, Norton Creek, Wasco, and Wild Rose. Also including Davis Primary (K-2), and Richmond Intermediate (3-5) split elementary schools.[16] There are two middle schools: Thompson and Wredling; and two high schools: St. Charles East High School, and St. Charles North High School. The Glenwood School for Boys and Girls has a campus in St. Charles known as the Rathje Campus named for the Frank C. Rathje family. St. Patrick Catholic School opened its doors in 1930 and previously served about 500 students at the downtown campus. Saint Patrick Catholic school is downtown campus is now a preschool. The school opened another location off Randall Road which serves over 500 students. St. Charles is part of Community College District 509 which is served by Elgin Community College.


Baker Memorial Park, northwest corner of Illinois Route 64 at Illinois Route 25, downtown St Charles Illinois, April 2010
Baker Memorial Park, northwest corner of Illinois Route 64 at Illinois Route 25, downtown St Charles Illinois, April 2010
Downtown St. Charles, IL facing east, showing Hotel Baker on the left with the American Flag on top
Downtown St. Charles, IL facing east, showing Hotel Baker on the left with the American Flag on top

Also home of the Kane County Fair in July and the Kane County Flea Market the first Sunday and preceding Saturday of every month. Pottawatomie Park is the center of the annual Dragon Boat festival and family event, the second weekend of June. Downtown St. Charles' Lincoln Park serves as the central location for the Scarecrow Festival in October. St. Charles is also home to the Fox Valley Concert Band.

St. Charles is also home to the Arcada theatre, a notable attraction within the Fox River valley, where many famous performers have appeared including Martin Short, Joan Rivers, and Paul Anka. Local theatres include Steel Beam Theatre, the Vero Voce Theater & School of Performing Arts, and Kane Repertory Theatre.

Historic Hotel Baker which opened in 1928 is a symbolic representation of the rich history of downtown St. Charles.

Downtown St. Charles was named one of the region's "Top 10" by the Chicago Tribune for fine dining, arts and entertainment, recreational opportunities, unique shopping, and a lively nighttime personality.[17]

Family Circle magazine named St. Charles #1 in its 2011 Annual Survey of Best Towns and Cities for families.[18] The comprehensive survey included communities from across the country and is featured in the magazine's August 2011 issue. The communities in the magazine's annual roundup of perfect places to call home combine affordable housing, good neighbors, green spaces, strong public school systems and giving spirits.

The St. Charles History Museum maintains a small museum of community artifacts in a historic former Texaco service station built in 1928 on Main Street.

The St. Charles Public Library is nationally ranked[19] among the best libraries in the U.S. and has earned a "three star" rating in the 2010 Library Journal Index.[20] Located near downtown St. Charles, the library has a large collection of print materials, as well as DVDs, CDs, downloadable content, online research databases, and a genealogy collection. Programs and activities for children and adults are offered. Outreach Services can arrange special delivery options for those who have special circumstances, such as visual, mobility or hearing impairments. The Friends of the Library sponsors spring and fall book sales each year.

In 2008, as part of a promotional effort by a local water gardening company, St. Charles named itself the water garden capital of the world.[21]

St. Charles is home to the Q Center, a 95-acre conference site. Originally built as a Catholic Women's Liberal Arts College, St. Dominic College, it later became Arthur Andersen's Center for Professional Education. It is now used by Accenture, and hosts meetings, conferences and executive learning for Fortune 500 companies, associations and social, military, education, religious and fraternal organizations from all over the world.[22]

St. Charles hosts an annual Scarecrow Fest, featuring 100+ handmade scarecrows.[23]


Top employers

According to St. Charles' 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[24] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 St. Charles Community School District 1,742
2 RR Donnelley & Sons 936
3 Omron Automotive 800
4 City of St Charles 300
5 Armour-Eckrich Meats LLC 289
6 Jewel/Osco 270
7 Pheasant Run Resort 250
8 Do Paco 191
9 Dukane Corporation 190
10 System Sensor 150

In popular culture

St. Charles is featured in the 2011 American independent horror film Munger Road.

Brief scene crossing the downtown St. Charles Fox River bridge in an early Brendan Fraser movie "With Honors".

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "DuPage County IL Official Website - Page Not Found". Cite uses generic title (help)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-09-12. Retrieved 2008-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Mayor's Office". City of St. Charles. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ "Incorporated Cities, Towns & Villages of Illinois" (PDF). State of Illinois, Secretary of State.
  7. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): St. Charles city, Illinois". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved February 7, 2019.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  9. ^ 1917 Automobile Blue Book vol. c, page 274
  10. ^ "Several Towns Named After Founders and Heroes. The city was named after Charles Borromeo, a Catholic Sant". The Daily Herald. December 28, 1999. p. 220. Retrieved August 17, 2014 – via open access
  11. ^ "Data" (PDF). July 2012.
  12. ^ Buckley, Madeline (April 25, 2020). "Kane County Health Department orders closure of St. Charles meat processing plant". Chicago Tribune.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Community Facts". Archived from the original on 2020-02-11. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  15. ^ "Illinois Youth Center St. Charles Archived 2012-12-25 at" Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Retrieved on October 28, 2012. "4450 Lincoln Highway St. Charles, Il 60175"
  16. ^ "About Us | Davis Richmond". Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  17. ^ "Community Profile - City of St Charles, IL". City of St. Charles, Illinois.
  18. ^ "10 Best Towns for Families: 2011". Family Circle.
  19. ^ "HAPLR 2.0". 26 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Library Journal Index".
  21. ^ Aquascape, Inc., St. Charles, IL Named Water Garden Capital of the World, press release (April 26, 2008).
  22. ^ "St. Charles, IL Conference Centers - About Us - Q Center". Q Center.
  23. ^ "City Events Calendar". City of St. Charles, Illinois.
  24. ^ "City of St. Charles CAFR" (PDF).
  25. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1961-1962, Biographical Sketch of Robert F. Casey, pg. 298
  26. ^ "Population schedules of the 9th Census of the United States, 1870 Illinois". Roll: M593_237; Page: 473A. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  27. ^ Schuba, Tom (May 9, 2021). "Renowned architect Helmut Jahn killed in bike crash near St. Charles home". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  28. ^ Swartz, Tracy (April 25, 2016). "Reality Star Donnie Wahlberg: All Of St. Charles Knows What I'm Up To". Chicago Tribune.