DeKalb, Illinois

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City of DeKalb
Nickname(s): Barb City
DeKalb is located in Illinois
Location within the state of Illinois
Coordinates: 41°55′53″N 88°45′01″W / 41.93139°N 88.75028°W / 41.93139; -88.75028Coordinates: 41°55′53″N 88°45′01″W / 41.93139°N 88.75028°W / 41.93139; -88.75028
Country United States
State Illinois
County DeKalb
Incorporated 1856
 • Mayor John Rey
 • City 14.81 sq mi (38.4 km2)
 • Land 14.65 sq mi (37.9 km2)
 • Water 0.16 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 879 ft (268 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • City 43,862
 • Density 2,993.8/sq mi (1,157.3/km2)
 • Urban 68,545 [1]
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 60115
Area code(s) 815

DeKalb /dɨˈkælb/ is a city in DeKalb County, Illinois, United States. The population was 43,862 according to the 2010 census. The city is named after decorated German war hero Johann de Kalb, who died during the American Revolutionary War.


DeKalb was originally called DeKalb Centre, and under the latter name was platted in 1853.[2] The name is for Baron Johann de Kalb, a major general in the American Revolutionary War.[3] A post office has been in operation at DeKalb since 1849.[4]


DeKalb is located at 41°55′53″N 88°45′1″W / 41.93139°N 88.75028°W / 41.93139; -88.75028 (41.931274, -88.750151).[5]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 14.81 square miles (38.4 km2), of which 14.65 square miles (37.9 km2) (or 98.92%) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) (or 1.08%) is water.[6]

The Kishwaukee River flows northward through the city of DeKalb.

On August 24, 2007, the Kishwaukee River at DeKalb crested at 15.27 feet (4.65 m) (all-time record 15.8 feet (4.8 m)) causing major flooding. This was only the second time the river has risen above 15 feet (4.6 m) since the level of the river has been recorded.[7]


DeKalb is governed by a Council-Manager government. Policy is developed by an elected City Council then implemented by an appointed professional City Manager. DeKalb's City Council is made up of a Mayor elected at-large and seven alderpersons elected by ward. Each serves a four-year term, with half the council being elected every two years. A City Clerk is also elected every four years who serves as the official record keeper of the city. The Clerk is also the primary FOIA – or Freedom of Information Act – officer for the city. City council meetings are held the second and fourth Mondays of every month.


DeKalb is home to Northern Illinois University, the city's largest employer and the third largest campus in the state.[8] Other large employers include KishHealth (a regional medical group centered around Dekalb's Kishwaukee Hospital), General Electric, Monsanto (originally as DeKalb Corn), the local school district, and a large retail district along Hwy. 23 (and shared with Sycamore) that includes Walmart, Target, Lowes, Best Buy, Carson's, Sears, Kohl's, Ross, and dozens of other chain and local stores.

DeKalb is also home to warehouses for several major companies, including Target, 3M, Nestlé, and Panduit, in part due to Dekalb's proximity to major highways such as I-88 and I-39. 3M's complex serves as the distribution hub for five of 3M’s six business units and export operations to North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.[9]

In 1984, the intersection of two streets in a popular NIU housing district in Dekalb begot the name of a regional consulting firm called "Greenbrier & Russel,"[10] (subsequently acquired by Fujitsu Consulting in 2006[11]). In 2011, DeKalb was the broadcast base of Up and In: The Baseball Prospectus Podcast with Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks.[12]

Park facilities[edit]

The DeKalb Park District is responsible for the 44 parks and recreation facilities in DeKalb. The DeKalb Park District was established in 1935 through the initiative of members of the League of Women Voters, to address the need for a public swimming pool in the community. The City of DeKalb gave the first four parks to the District: Annie’s Woods, Huntley Park, Liberty Park, and Hopkins Park. By 1960, the District had eight parks and by 1970 twelve. Initially the main services provided focused on swimming and use of the outdoor parks. But as lifestyles changed, so did the District.

In the mid 1960s the City gave the Ellwood House mansion to the District. In 1970, the park district hired its first full-time executive director and by 1980 the district had pool, acquired Haish Gymnasium and Buena Vista, a nine-hole golf course. In 1985, the park district purchased River Heights, a second nine-hole golf course, which was later developed into an 18-hole course.

New parks were acquired as conservation areas in order to preserve floodplain lands and wildlife habitat. Other parks were established as community-wide active recreation facilities designed to serve all types of recreational uses. In addition to this system of parks the District established the Kishwaukee Kiwanis pathway system totaling over 8 miles in length, connecting DeKalb with Sycamore and the Great Western Trail to the east.

In 2000 the District opened the Sports and Recreation Center, a multi-function facility that features in indoor field of over 1 acre, clear-span space with synthetic field turf. The park district provides year-round athletic and recreation programs including day camps, youth baseball and softball, adult softball leagues both indoors and outdoors, swimming lessons, golf lessons, karate, tennis, adult and youth basketball leagues, indoor soccer, fitness classes, and preschool to name a few.

Today the DeKalb Park District park system includes 44 parks totaling over 700 acres: community parks, neighborhood parks, passive parks and linear parks. Notable parks and facilities include:

  • River Heights Golf Course
  • Buena Vista Golf Course
  • Hopkins Park Pool and Community Center
  • Nehring Center for Culture and Tourism
  • Ellwood House Museum and Park

Health systems[edit]

  • Kishwaukee Hospital


A home in the neighborhood north of downtown DeKalb, near the Gurler House.
Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,598
1890 2,579 61.4%
1900 5,904 128.9%
1910 8,102 37.2%
1920 7,871 −2.9%
1930 8,545 8.6%
1940 9,146 7.0%
1950 11,708 28.0%
1960 18,486 57.9%
1970 32,949 78.2%
1980 33,099 0.5%
1990 34,925 5.5%
2000 39,018 11.7%
2010 43,862 12.4%
Est. 2014 44,054 [13] 0.4%
Census Quickfacts [1]

As of the census[14] of 2010, there were 43,862 people, 15,386 households, and 7,508 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,993.8 people per square mile (1,157.3/km²). There were 16,436 housing units at an average density of 1,121.9 per square mile (433.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.9% White, 12.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 5.5% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.5% of the population.

There were 15,386 households out of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.2% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.6% under the age of 18, 37.3% from 18 to 24, 22.6% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23.6 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,719, and the median income for a family was $59,671. Males had a median income of $43,819 versus $36,488 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,155. About 19.6% of families and 32.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.0% of those under the age of 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.


There are 10 public schools, one private school, one university and one public library. [2]

Northern Illinois University[edit]

Altgeld Hall, the first building to be constructed at NIU.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) was founded in DeKalb as the Northern Illinois State Normal School in 1895. NIU is a comprehensive teaching and research institution with total enrollment around 23,000 (including about 17,000 undergraduates and 300 law school students),[15][16] which makes NIU the third largest campus in Illinois.[8] Notable NIU alumni include Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson and Krusty the Clown), Jimmy Chamberlin (The Smashing Pumpkins drummer), former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, former Labor Secretary W. Willard Wirtz, Oscar-nominated actress Joan Allen in Pleasantville (film), former NFL players Michael Turner and Ryan Diem, Steve Harris from David E. Kelley's legal Drama The Practice.

Public schools[edit]

DeKalb is served by both public and private school systems. DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 operates seven elementary schools (Grades K-5), Clinton Rosette and Huntley Middle Schools (Grades 6-8), and DeKalb High School (Grades 9-12). DeKalb is also home to St. Mary's Catholic Grade School (Grades K-8).


DeKalb is the location of both a toll plaza and an oasis on Interstate 88. The oasis includes restaurants and a gas station. DeKalb is 30 miles (48 km) west of Aurora and 65 miles (105 km) west from downtown Chicago. The local Voluntary Action Center provides two types of transportation services, TRANS-VAC and MED-VAC. TRANS-VAC provides transportation to activities and businesses in DeKalb County and has two bus routes (the green line and blue line) that runs a regular hourly route Monday through Friday and some limited evening hours for individuals with special needs. MED-VAC provides transportation to out-of-town medical appointments. The NIU Huskie Bus Line serves NIU and the surrounding DeKalb area. It has the second largest ridership-per-mile of any bus system in Illinois.[citation needed]


DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport (DTMA) or (KDKB), serving the general aviation community, is located at 3232 Pleasant Street, DeKalb, Illinois.

Sister cities[edit]

DeKalb is partnered with Sycamore, Illinois, which is just north of DeKalb and the county seat of their county (DeKalb County).

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2010 Census Urban Area List
  2. ^ Callary, Edward (29 September 2008). Place Names of Illinois. University of Illinois Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-252-09070-7. 
  3. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 63. 
  4. ^ "DeKalb County". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "Places: Illinois 2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  7. ^ South Branch Kishwaukee River at DeKalb, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, National Weather Service. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ "Why Dekalb County?". DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Executive Profile - Eric Wasowicz". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Fujitsu Consulting Acquires Illinois-based Greenbrier & Russel". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-06-14. 
  15. ^ "Northern Illinois University". Forbes. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Law School - Northern Illinois University". US News and World Report. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 

External links[edit]