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St. Charles, Illinois

Coordinates: 41°54′49″N 88°18′39″W / 41.913744°N 88.31085°W / 41.913744; -88.31085
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St. Charles, Illinois
Downtown St. Charles, with the Fox River and Municipal Center/City Hall)
Downtown St. Charles, with the Fox River and Municipal Center/City Hall)
Flag of St. Charles, Illinois
Official logo of St. Charles, Illinois
STC (local abbreviation), St. Chuck
Pride of the Fox[1]
Location of St. Charles in Kane and DuPage Counties, Illinois
Location of St. Charles in Kane and DuPage Counties, Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 41°54′49″N 88°18′39″W / 41.913744°N 88.31085°W / 41.913744; -88.31085
CountryUnited States
Founded1834 (as Charleston; changed to St. Charles in 1839)[2]
 • Total15.01 sq mi (38.87 km2)
 • Land14.41 sq mi (37.32 km2)
 • Water0.60 sq mi (1.55 km2)
 • Total33,081
 • Density2,295.86/sq mi (886.43/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code630
FIPS code17-66703

St. Charles is a city[5] 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.[6] 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.


Early history[edit]

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 the Native Americans.[7] 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.[8] St. Charles became incorporated as a city February 9, 1839, and reincorporated October 17, 1874 (under the 1870 Illinois Constitution).[9]

Underground Railroad[edit]

Widespread claims of slavery-era Underground Railroad stations operating in St. Charles homes, complete with tunnels and false doorways, have not been historically substantiated. Even so, an active abolitionist group was 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[why?] connection to the Underground Railroad in the town is the Wheeler House, built in St. Charles in 1837.[10]

Transportation history[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Immigration history[edit]

St. Charles has attracted groups of European immigrants, including from Ireland and Sweden during the 1840s and 1850s, and later from Belgium and Lithuania.[citation needed]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On April 25, 2020 (4 years ago) (2020-04-25), 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.[11]


According to the 2021 census gazetteer files, St. Charles has a total area of 15.01 square miles (38.88 km2), of which 14.41 square miles (37.32 km2) (or 96.00%) is land and 0.60 square miles (1.55 km2) (or 4.00%) is water.[12]

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.[13]


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

As of the 2020 census[17] there were 33,081 people, 12,342 households, and 8,767 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,204.08 inhabitants per square mile (851.00/km2). There were 13,809 housing units at an average density of 920.05 per square mile (355.23/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.17% White, 1.75% African American, 0.39% Native American, 4.43% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 4.56% from other races, and 7.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.26% of the population.

There were 12,342 households, out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.82% were married couples living together, 10.45% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.97% were non-families. 23.46% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.55% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.11 and the average family size was 2.60.

The city's age distribution consisted of 21.5% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $102,414, and the median income for a family was $124,032. Males had a median income of $70,051 versus $36,012 for females. The per capita income for the city was $50,467. About 1.8% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.9% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.

St. Charles city, Illinois – Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[15] Pop 2020[16] % 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%
Total 32,974 33,081 100.00% 100.00%

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.


Top employers[edit]

According to St. Charles' 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[18] 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 (has closed) 0
8 Do Paco 191
9 Dukane Corporation 190
10 System Sensor 150

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 (4.5 hectares) of land at 410 South 1st Street in 1901.[19]

Employing up to 500 workers:

"[The piano factory] 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."[20]

On January 7, 1937 (87 years ago) (1937-01-07), the St. Charles factory closed,[21] having been sold to the W.H. Howell company, which made furniture there until 1980.[22] 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.[22] It was foreclosed upon and closed in 1997.[22][23] 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.[22]

Arts and culture[edit]

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.

Kane County fair grounds on Randall road is the home of the Kane County Fair in July, the Kane County Flea Market the first Sunday and preceding Saturday of every month. The annual Dragon Boat festival and family event during the second weekend of June are held in Potawatomi Park. Lincoln Park, in downtown St. Charles, serves as the central location for the Scarecrow Festival in October. St. Charles is home to the Fox Valley Concert Band.[citation needed]

St. Charles is 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.[citation needed]

Historic Hotel Baker, which opened in 1928, is a symbolic representation of the rich history of downtown St. Charles.[citation needed]

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.[24]

The St. Charles History Museum maintains a small museum of community artifacts in a historic former Texaco service station that was originally built in 1928 on Main Street.[citation needed]

The St. Charles Public Library is nationally ranked[25] among the best libraries in the U.S. and has earned a "three star" rating in the 2010 Library Journal Index.[26] 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.[citation needed]

St. Charles is home to the Q Center, a 95-acre (38 ha) 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.[27]

St. Charles hosts an annual Scarecrow Weekend, featuring 100+ handmade scarecrows.[28]

The Great Western Trail passes through town.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

State government[edit]

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.[29]


Pace provides bus service on Routes 801 and 802 connecting St. Charles to Elgin, Aurora, and other destinations.[30]


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.[31] 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.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Economic Development: City of St. Charles". www.dupageco.org. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  2. ^ "St. Charles Heritage Center - Historic STC - Building the Dam". Archived from the original on September 12, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  3. ^ "Mayor's Office". City of St. Charles. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  5. ^ "Incorporated Cities, Towns & Villages of Illinois" (PDF). State of Illinois, Secretary of State.
  6. ^ "St. Charles city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  7. ^ 1917 Automobile Blue Book vol. c, page 274
  8. ^ "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 Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  9. ^ "Data" (PDF). cyberdriveillinois.com. July 2012.
  10. ^ "Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad in St. Charles". St. Charles History Museum. March 6, 2023. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  11. ^ Buckley, Madeline (April 25, 2020). "Kane County Health Department orders closure of St. Charles meat processing plant". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ "Gazetteer Files". Census.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  13. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): St. Charles city, Illinois". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved February 7, 2019.[dead link]
  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) – St. Charles city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  16. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – St. Charles city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  17. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  18. ^ "City of St. Charles CAFR" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Cable pianos were 'greatest'". Illinois Digital Archives. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  20. ^ "Cable pianos were 'greatest'". Illinois Digital Archives. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  21. ^ "Cable pianos were 'greatest'". Illinois Digital Archives. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  22. ^ a b c d "St. Charles Historic Buildings: Cable Piano Company". St. Charles Public Library. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  23. ^ Young, David (October 21, 1999). "St. Charles' Puzzling Flop". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  24. ^ "Community Profile - City of St Charles, IL". City of St. Charles, Illinois.
  25. ^ "HAPLR 2.0". January 26, 2015.
  26. ^ "Library Journal Index".
  27. ^ "St. Charles, IL Conference Centers - About Us - Q Center". Q Center. Archived from the original on August 25, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  28. ^ "Events in St. Charles". www.scarecrowfest.com. Archived from the original on June 30, 2023. Retrieved July 10, 2023.
  29. ^ "Illinois Youth Center St. Charles Archived 2012-12-25 at archive.today." Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Retrieved on October 28, 2012. "4450 Lincoln Highway St. Charles, Il 60175"
  30. ^ "RTA System Map" (PDF). Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  31. ^ "About Us | Davis Richmond". dav-ric.d303.org. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  32. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1961-1962, Biographical Sketch of Robert F. Casey, pg. 298
  33. ^ "Population schedules of the 9th Census of the United States, 1870 Illinois". Roll: M593_237; Page: 473A. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  34. ^ Johnson, K.C. (February 25, 2011). "Deadline push for Mayo denied: Sources: Grizzlies reject offer of Brewer, 2 1st-round picks". Chicago Tribune – via ProQuest.
  35. ^ "In Brief". Chicago Tribune. April 27, 2014. p. 11 – via ProQuest.
  36. ^ Schuba, Tom (May 9, 2021). "Renowned architect Helmut Jahn killed in bike crash near St. Charles home". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  37. ^ Swartz, Tracy (April 25, 2016). "Reality Star Donnie Wahlberg: All Of St. Charles Knows What I'm Up To". Chicago Tribune.

External links[edit]