St. Charles, Illinois
City of St. Charles
STC (local abbreviation), St. Chuck
Pride of the Fox
|Founded||1834 (as Charleston; changed to St. Charles in 1839)|
|• Total||15.01 sq mi (38.87 km2)|
|• Land||14.41 sq mi (37.32 km2)|
|• Water||0.60 sq mi (1.55 km2)|
|• Density||2,295.86/sq mi (886.43/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
St. Charles is a city 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. Per the 2020 census, the population was 33,081. 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 socioeconomic condition.
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. 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. St. Charles became incorporated as a city February 9, 1839, and reincorporated October 17, 1874 (under the 1870 Illinois Constitution).
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.
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.
St. Charles has attracted groups of European immigrants, including from Ireland and Sweden during the 1840s and 1850s, and later from Belgium and Lithuania.
On April 25, 2020, the Kane County Health Department ordered Smithfield Foods to close its meat processing plant because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a local instance of the pandemic's effects on the meat industry in the United States.
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 tri-city area citizens.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||27,378||26,099||83.03%||78.89%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||785||562||2.38%||1.70%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||34||25||0.10%||0.08%|
|Asian alone (NH)||1,034||1,440||3.14%||4.35%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||15||4||0.05%||0.01%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||33||102||0.10%||0.31%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||346||1,125||1.05%||3.40%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||3,349||3,724||10.16%||11.26%|
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 can be of any race.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Family Circle magazine named St. Charles #1 in its 2011 Annual Survey of Best Towns and Cities for families. 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 among the best libraries in the U.S. and has earned a "three star" rating in the 2010 Library Journal Index. 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.
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.
St. Charles hosts an annual Scarecrow Fest, featuring 100+ handmade scarecrows.
According to St. Charles' 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||St. Charles Community School District||1,742|
|2||RR Donnelley & Sons||936|
|4||City of St Charles||300|
|5||Armour-Eckrich Meats LLC||289|
|7||Pheasant Run Resort (has closed)||0|
Piano-making was a major industry in St. Charles in the first three decades of the 20th century. The arrival of the Chicago Great Western Railway enabled The Cable Co., one of the country's largest producers of pianos and reed organs, to build a factory on 11 acres of land at 410 South 1st Street in 1901. It employed up to 500 workers and...
"...gave St. Charles an international flavor. Ivory for piano keys came from India and Africa. Wool for the hammers came from Australia. Rich wood veneers were imported from Mexico, South America and the gold coast of Africa. In return, Cable distributed its pianos all over the world and had dealers in Spain, Italy, British East Africa, Japan, Australia and other key foreign places."
The St. Charles factory was closed on Jan. 7, 1937, and sold to the W.H. Howell company, which made furniture there until 1980. The building reopened in May 1986 as the indoor Piano Factory Outlet Mall, whose outlet stores included Corning, American Tourister, Carter's, Pfalzgraff, and Anchor Hocking. It was foreclosed upon and closed in 1997. The building was razed in September 2000 to make way for a residential development; the site is now occupied by condominiums and mixed-use buildings.
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.
The 2020 documentary A Secret Love follows the story of a couple who lived in St. Charles for decades.
Filming for an upcoming David Fincher movie called The Killer is currently taking place in St. Charles.
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