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West Chicago, Illinois

Coordinates: 41°53′18″N 88°12′35″W / 41.88833°N 88.20972°W / 41.88833; -88.20972
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West Chicago, Illinois
Flag of West Chicago, Illinois
"Where History and Progress meet..."
Location of West Chicago in DuPage County, Illinois.
Location of West Chicago in DuPage County, Illinois.
Coordinates: 41°53′18″N 88°12′35″W / 41.88833°N 88.20972°W / 41.88833; -88.20972
Country United States
TownshipsWinfield, Wayne
IncorporatedMay 31, 1873 (1873-05-31)[1]
 • TypeMayor–council
 • MayorRuben Pineda
 • Total15.72 sq mi (40.71 km2)
 • Land15.37 sq mi (39.82 km2)
 • Water0.34 sq mi (0.89 km2)  2.25%
 • Total25,614
 • Density1,666.17/sq mi (643.30/km2)
Standard of living
 • Per capita income$19,287 (median: $63,424)
 • Home value$192,993 (median: $160,200)
ZIP code(s)
60185, 60186
Area code(s)630 and 331
FIPS code17-80060
Demographics (2010)[3]
Demographic Proportion
White 67.6%
Black 2.5%
Hispanic 51.1%
Asian 5.9%
Islander 0.1%
Native 0.6%
Other 22.3%

West Chicago is a city in DuPage County, Illinois, United States. The population was 25,614 at the 2020 census. It was formerly named Junction and later Turner, after its founder, John B. Turner, president of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad (G&CU) in 1855.[4] The city was initially established around the first junction of railroad lines in Illinois,[5] and today is still served by the Union Pacific West Metra service via West Chicago station.


A railroad crossing at West Chicago.

Erastus Gary, of Pomfret, Connecticut, homesteaded 760 acres (310 ha) on the banks of the DuPage River, just south of West Chicago's present day city limits in the 1830s. His son became "Judge" Elbert Henry Gary, the first CEO of America's first billion-dollar corporation, U.S. Steel, and for whom Gary, Indiana, is named. Gary also helped bring brothers Jesse and Warren Wheaton, founders of nearby Wheaton, Illinois, the DuPage County seat, from Connecticut to the Midwest. A pioneer cemetery on the old Gary Homestead, where a sawmill had been built by the Garys, just north of Gary's Mill Road, and north of its terminus at Illinois Route 59, was built over with apartment buildings in the 1960s.

In 1849, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad (predecessor of the C&NW) reached the site of present-day West Chicago, then continued northwest to Elgin. In 1850, the Aurora Branch Railroad (predecessor of the CB&Q) built southwest, making America's first railroad junction point west of Chicago. In 1854, the G&CURR opened the “Dixon Air Line” branch West thru Geneva.[6][7][8]

Because of the number of trains passing through town, water and fuel facilities for locomotives and a roundhouse were built here, as well as an early eating-house and hotel for travelers. As a result, a number of new employees and their families located to this community. The original settlers were primarily English and Irish, with Germans arriving in the 1860s and Mexican immigrants by the 1910s. John B. Turner, president of the G&CU and a resident of Chicago, owned several acres of land in what is now the center of town. As more people settled in Junction, Turner recognized the chance to make a profit by platting his land and selling off lots. He therefore recorded the community's first plat in 1855 under the name of Town of Junction.

The community continued its growth, although the one-room schoolhouse built a mile outside town in 1835 would become the state's last surviving one-room schoolhouse when it closed in 1991.[9] Meanwhile, in 1857, Dr. Joseph McConnell and his wife Mary platted a second portion of town just north of John B. Turner's plat. They recorded their plat as the Town of Turner in honor of the railroad president. These two “towns” became informally known as Turner Junction.

By 1873, the community had taken on a substantial and permanent character, so the residents incorporated as the Village of Turner. In 1888, a new railroad, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, built a freight line through town. It offered free factory sites for any industry willing to locate along its right-of-way. As part of the effort to attract industry, the community changed its name in 1896 to the Village of West Chicago. Area businessmen, particularly Charles Bolles, reasoned that the new name sounded more cosmopolitan, and would help draw prospective factory owners.

As industry located in West Chicago and new jobs opened up, the population increased. At the turn of the century, West Chicago was number two in population in DuPage County, behind Hinsdale. By 1910, the population was 2,378 and several new industries had located here, including the Borden's milk condensing plant, the Turner Cabinet Company and the Turner Brick Company. The community continues to attract quality business and residential development that contributes to the culturally diverse community that exists today.[10]

In 1909, one more railroad came to West Chicago. The Chicago, Wheaton and Western Railway, a lightly built interurban electric railway, came in from the east, running down the middle of Junction and Depot (now both Main) streets, then curved back west toward Geneva. Soon bought by the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad, the “country trolley” was lightly used, and abandoned in 1937. The right of way is now the Geneva Spur of the Illinois Prairie Path.[11][12][13][14][15]

In the 1980s and 1990s, the city received a nuclear-waste contamination scare. Harmful waste from the Rare Earths Facility had been spread around the community since the 1930s, when the Lindsay Light and Chemical Company built a plant. Reed-Keppler Park was built on top of a landfill that had received some waste from the plant. Kerr-McGee, which had bought the facility in 1967 and operated it until 1973,[16][17][18] settled with the city and cleaned up the waste.

The movie Reach the Rock, written by John Hughes, was filmed in downtown West Chicago in 1998.[citation needed]


West Chicago is located at 41°53′18″N 88°12′35″W / 41.888378°N 88.209659°W / 41.888378; -88.209659.[19]

According to the 2021 census gazetteer files, West Chicago has a total area of 15.72 square miles (40.71 km2), of which 15.38 square miles (39.83 km2) (or 97.82%) is land and 0.34 square miles (0.88 km2) (or 2.18%) is water.[20]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[21]

As of the 2020 census[22] there were 25,614 people, 7,838 households, and 6,035 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,629.49 inhabitants per square mile (629.15/km2). There were 7,801 housing units at an average density of 496.28 per square mile (191.61/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 40.99% White, 2.92% African American, 2.18% Native American, 8.04% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 28.85% from other races, and 17.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 51.85% of the population.

There were 7,838 households, out of which 81.09% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.68% were married couples living together, 12.75% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.00% were non-families. 19.32% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.74% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.92 and the average family size was 3.40.

The city's age distribution consisted of 43.7% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $77,098, and the median income for a family was $88,509. Males had a median income of $39,214 versus $27,870 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,245. About 9.3% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.


Jel Sert has its corporate headquarters in West Chicago.[23]

Ball Horticultural Company has its Worldwide Headquarters in West Chicago.[24]

General Mills had a production facility in West Chicago until 2017.[25]

Top employers[edit]

According to the City's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[26] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Jel Sert 1,000
2 West Chicago Elementary School District 33 585
3 Aspen Marketing Services 425
4 Ball Horticultural Company 425
5 InNocor Inc. 330
6 Mapei 285
7 Community High School District 94 244
8 OSI Industries 230
9 Sims Recycling Solutions 200
10 New Wincup Holdings 167
11 In The Swim 150
12 Menards 150
13 St. Andrews Golf & Country Club 150
14 Turtle Splash Water Park 150
15 Wood Glen Pavilion LLC 140


The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6791, along Route 59 in West Chicago.

The United States Postal Service operates the West Chicago Post Office.[27]

As of 2021, Ruben Pineda is the mayor of West Chicago.[28]

The city maintains the West Chicago Public Library downtown.

Points of Interest[edit]

West Chicago is home to the Truitt-Hoff Nature Preserve, part of DuPage County’s West Chicago Prairie Forest Preserve, one of the largest and best preserved prairies in the Midwest.[29] This prairie was discovered by then-mayor Richard Truitt in 1976 during one of his frequent walks in the open land west of the city. The prairie had been preserved because it was on railroad right-of-way land that had never been cultivated.[29]

The city is also home to Kline Creek Farm, an 1890s living history farm.[30] as well as the West Chicago City Museum, located in a historic building that once served as Town Hall.


The Metra station

The DuPage Airport is located in the city.[31] The National Transportation Safety Board operates the Chicago Aviation Field Office in West Chicago, on the grounds of the airport; it is the regional headquarters of the NTSB Aviation Central Region.[31][32]

Metra has a station on the Union Pacific West Line.

The Great Western Trail (Illinois) passes through town.


The city of West Chicago has two high schools—one public school, West Chicago Community High School, and one private, Wheaton Academy. There are seven public elementary schools (Currier, Pioneer, Wegner, Turner, Indian Knoll, Gary, and Norton Creek) and two middle schools [Benjamin and Leman Middle School (LMS)] within the city.[33] The West Chicago Wildcats is the name of the WCCHS teams.

Sister city[edit]

West Chicago has one sister city.:[34]


  1. ^ Illinois Regional Archives Depository System. "Name Index to Illinois Local Governments". Illinois State Archives. Illinois Secretary of State. Archived from the original on June 24, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  3. ^ "Community: Demographics". City of West Chicago, Illinois. 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  4. ^ "Several Towns Named After Founders and Heroes". The Daily Herald. December 28, 1999. p. 220. Retrieved August 17, 2014 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  5. ^ Reiff, Janice L.; Ann Durkin Keating; James R. Grossman. "West Chicago, IL". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago History Museum; Newberry Library; University of Chicago. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  6. ^ Casey, Robert J.; Douglas, W.A.S. (1948). Pioneer Railroad. McGraw-Hill. pp. 60–61.
  7. ^ Grant, H. Roger (1996). The North Western. Northern Illinois University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-87580-214-1.
  8. ^ Scobey, Frank F.; Musich, Gerald D. (1984). A Brief History of An Old Railroad Town. City of West Chicago Historical Museum. pp. 10–11.
  9. ^ "Illinois Country Schools".
  10. ^ Scobey-Musich(1984)
  11. ^ The Great Third Rail. Central Electric Railfans’ Association. 1961. pp. 36, 58–59, II–10.
  12. ^ Peffers, Hopkins Stolp (1993). Aurora-Elgin Area Street Cars and Interurbans V. 3 The Third Rail Line. American Slide-Chart Corp. pp. 76–80. ISBN 1-883461-03-0.
  13. ^ Plachno, Larry (1986). Sunset Lines The Story of the Chicago Aurora, & Elgin Railroad: 1 - Trackage. Transportation Trails. pp. 137–141. ISBN 0-933449-02-X.
  14. ^ Plachno, Larry (1989). Sunset Lines The Story of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad: 2 — History. Transportation Trails. pp. 243–251. ISBN 0-933449-10-0.
  15. ^ Scobey-Musich(84) page 16
  16. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (February 1990). "NPL Site Narrative for Kerr-McGee (Residential Areas)". Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  17. ^ Starks, Tamara (March 21, 1993). "Death in the Sandbox - West Chicago, Ill., Neighborhood Quakes Over Radioactive Soil". Associated Press / Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  18. ^ "Superfund Site Report: KERR-MCGEE (REED-KEPPLER PARK)". scorecard.org. Retrieved October 2, 2009. (based partly on US EPA NPL narrative)
  19. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  20. ^ Bureau, US Census. "Gazetteer Files". Census.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  21. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  23. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine." Jel Sert. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  24. ^ "[1]" Ball Horticultural Company
  25. ^ "General Mills: One of the World's largest food Companies". www.generalmills.com. 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  26. ^ "City of West Chicago CAFR" (PDF). westchicago.org. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  27. ^ "Post Office Location - WEST CHICAGO." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  28. ^ "Mayor Ruben Pineda". westchicago.org. September 18, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "West Chicago Prairie". Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  30. ^ "Kline Creek Farm". Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  31. ^ a b "2010 Zoning Map." City of West Chicago. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  32. ^ "Regional Offices: Aviation." National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  33. ^ "Schools in West Chicago, IL - report cards, comparisons, test results, ranking, rating, profiles". www.city-data.com. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 11, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]