Belvidere, Illinois

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Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere
Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere
Illinois' City of Murals
Location of Belvidere in Boone County, Illinois.
Location of Belvidere in Boone County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 42°15′17″N 88°50′39″W / 42.25472°N 88.84417°W / 42.25472; -88.84417Coordinates: 42°15′17″N 88°50′39″W / 42.25472°N 88.84417°W / 42.25472; -88.84417
CountryUnited States
 • MayorMichael Chamberlain[1]
 • Total12.31 sq mi (31.88 km2)
 • Land12.07 sq mi (31.27 km2)
 • Water0.24 sq mi (0.61 km2)
 • Total25,585
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,082.75/sq mi (804.18/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s)815
FIPS code17-05092
Wikimedia CommonsBelvidere, Illinois
WebsiteCity of Belvidere Website

Belvidere /ˈbɛlvɪdɪər/ is a city in Boone County, Illinois, United States. The population was 25,585 as of the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Boone County.[4] Belvidere is part of the Rockford, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Belvidere is located at 42°15′17″N 88°50′39″W / 42.25472°N 88.84417°W / 42.25472; -88.84417 (42.254758, -88.844093),[5] and sits approximately 800 feet (240 m) above sea level. Located in north central Illinois, Belvidere is approximately 75 miles (121 km) northwest of the downtown of Chicago, and approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of Rockford. Belvidere is divided by the Kishwaukee River.

According to the 2010 census, Belvidere has a total area of 12.312 square miles (31.89 km2), of which 12.08 square miles (31.29 km2) (or 98.12%) is land and 0.232 square miles (0.60 km2) (or 1.88%) is water.[6] Belvidere is located in north central Illinois and is 75 miles from downtown Chicago on Routes 20, 76 and the Northern Illinois Toll road, with the Kishwaukee River dividing the town. Belvidere is an industrial community surrounded by prosperous farms. It is the County Seat with an estimated 2006 county population of over 52,000. The altitude is 800 feet above sea level, average temperatures are: 73 degrees F in the summer; 24 degrees F in the winter, and the average rainfall is 33.3 inches, and the average annual snowfall is 35.3 inches. [7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)25,143[3]−1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 20,820 people, 7,531 households, and 5,324 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,295.3 people per square mile (886.3/km2). There were 7,970 housing units at an average density of 878.6 per square mile (339.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 64.53% White, 1.15% African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 11.57% from other races, and 1.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.07% of the population.

There were 7,531 households, out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.3% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 29.7% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,529, and the median income for a family was $50,601. Males had a median income of $37,116 versus $24,454 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,804. About 7.8% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


The location where Belvidere exists today was first settled in 1835 by Simon P. Doty and Daniel Hilton Whitney, who named the location next to the Kishwaukee River "Elysian Fields". Many residents could not pronounce or spell the proposed name, so the city was named after Belvidere, Virginia, the former home of major financial founder Ebenezer Polk, a railroad lawyer. [10] Belvidere was originally built on the north side of the river. In 1851 the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was built south of the river, the business section followed to the south side of the river, where Belvidere's downtown is now located.[11] Belvidere was home to the National Sewing Machine Company from 1886 until the 1940s. In 1906, former female sheriff Sarah Ames moved to South Dakota and named the area where she settled after her home town. Belvidere, South Dakota is still operational as a small town in Jackson County.[12]

1967 tornado[edit]

On April 21, 1967, a devastating tornado struck Belvidere. Twenty-four lives were lost in the tornado, many of whom were schoolchildren. The F4 tornado struck at the end of the school day of Belvidere High School, while many children including those that attended area grade schools were waiting on school buses outside the high school. Out of sixteen school buses outside the high school, twelve were overturned or thrown. The tornado did $22 million in damage, demolished over 100 homes, and injured 500 people.[13] In 2007 a statue was erected in front of Belvidere High School in memorial of the lives lost.

2009 explosion[edit]

On December 7, 2009 there was an explosion at the NDK America building.[14] A truck driver from Indiana at the nearby Illinois Tollway Commission-owned Belvidere Oasis was killed by flying debris. The explosion's shock wave shook ceilings and doors in the area. The cause was found to be corrosion of the iron pressure vessels used in NDK's quartz crystallization process by high pressure sodium hydroxide inside the vessels, causing a catastrophic failure.[15][16]


Pettit Memorial Chapel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Lampert-Wildflower House, and the James Knox Taylor designed Belvidere Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Parks include Spencer Park, Belvidere Municipal Park, and the Boone County Fairgrounds. Belvidere is known as the "City of Murals", for its numerous murals.[17] The Left Behind series fictional character Rayford Steele was born there.


Belvidere used to have two hospitals, St. Joseph Hospital and Highland Hospital, both of which having recently closed, with St. Joseph's closing in 1999. In 2008, SwedishAmerican Hospital opened a hospital, and in 2009, they renovated and reopened the former Highland Hospital, which has the city's only emergency department. Cemeteries include the Belvidere Cemetery (Richard S. Molony's interment site) and St. James Catholic Cemetery. The nearest general aviation airport is Poplar Grove Airport, formerly known as Belvidere Airport. Schools include Belvidere High School, Belvidere North High School, Belvidere Endeavor High School, Belvidere South Middle School, Belvidere Central Middle School, Kishwaukee Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Perry Elementary School, Meehan Elementary School, Caledonia Elementary School, Seth Whitman Elementary school, and one academy, Washington Academy which are all part of the Belvidere Community Unit School District 100. Belvidere's public library, Ida Public Library, was formed in 1883. The current building, a Carnegie Library, was constructed in 1912 and opened in 1913, with an addition built-in 1987. It includes adult and children services, a Local History and Genealogy Room, and Internet/computer access.


Chrysler operates the Belvidere Assembly Plant, an auto assembly plant, originally constructed in the mid-1960s. The Belvidere plant manufactured the Dodge Neon until the spring of 2005. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the plant manufactured Chrysler Newports and Plymouth Furys. After a massive restructuring of the Belvidere plant, it is now one of the most modern auto assembly plants in the United States.

Dean Foods and General Mills operate manufacturing plants on the bank of the Kishwaukee River.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Wheeler, Jennifer (10 April 2013). "Election 2013: Mike Chamberlain takes Belvidere mayor race by 6 votes". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 30 March 2016. Republican Mike Chamberlain
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  6. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  7. ^ "Belvidere, Illinois (IL 61008, 61016) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders". 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  10. ^ "Almost Named Elysian Fields". Belvidere Daily Republican. October 13, 1973.
  11. ^ "Mission statement". Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  12. ^ "Sarah J. Ames woman of many strong traits of character". Belvidere Daily Republican. May 22, 1926.
  13. ^ Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant tornadoes, 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Environmental Films. p. 1088. ISBN 1-879362-03-1.
  14. ^ "Google Maps". Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  15. ^ "Falling Through the Cracks - Safety Videos - Multimedia | the U.S. Chemical Safety Board". Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  16. ^ "Falling Through the Cracks". YouTube. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  17. ^ "City of Belvidere | Illinois". Retrieved 2016-12-08.

External links[edit]