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St. Charles is a distant Chicago suburb in Kanemarker and DuPagemarker counties of Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker, and is roughly west of Chicagomarker on Illinois Route 64. According to a 2004 census estimate, the city has a total population of 32,134. 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 Bataviamarker, all far-western suburbs of similar size and relative socioeconomic condition.


Early history

After the Black Hawk War in 1832 opened the Fox River valley to white 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 Indianamarker, 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, Illinoismarker so the name of Saint Charles (suggested by S. S. Jones, a lawyer) was adopted in 1839. St. Charles became incorporated as a city in 1874.

Underground Railroad

Several "stations" of the slavery-era Underground Railroad were in St. Charles homes, complete with tunnels and false doorways; there was also an open abolitionist group called the Kane County Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1842, with about 180 members.

Transportation history

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 Sycamoremarker 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 Elginmarker. 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 Auroramarker 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 though 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.

Immigration history

St. Charles was also the place of settlement for diverse groups of European immigrants, including those from Irelandmarker and Swedenmarker during the 1840s and '50s, and later, groups from Belgiummarker and Lithuaniamarker.

Selected census results for St. Charles over time are:
St. Charles population vs. time.
  • 1850: 2,132
  • 1860: 1,822
  • 1880: 1,533
  • 1890: 1,690
  • 1900: 2,675
  • 1910: 4,046
  • 1920: 4,099
  • 1930: 5,377
  • 1940: 5,870
  • 1950: 6,709

  • 1960: 9,269
  • 1970: 12,928
  • 1972: 14,239
  • 1977: 16,145
  • 1980: 17,492
  • 1985: 18,266
  • 1987: 20,383
  • 1989: 21,992
  • 1990: 22,620
  • 1992: 23,847
  • 1994: 25,282
  • 1997: 26,286
  • 2000: 27,896
  • 2004 (est.): 32,134


St. Charles is located at 41°54'49" North, 88°18'39" West (41.913744, -88.31085) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of of which, is land and is water. The total area is 1.13% water.


According to the 2000 census, population density is . There are 11,072 housing units at an average density of 791.4/sq mi (305.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 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 are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 10,351 households out of which 36.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% are married couples living together, 8.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% are non-families. 23.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.62 and the average family size is 3.13.

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $75,181, and the median income for a family is $94,704. Males have a median income of $55,864 versus $35,134 for females. The per capita income for the city is $33,969. 3.4% of the population and 2.1% of families are 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 are living below the poverty line.


The public education system in St. Charles is operated by the Community Unit School District 303, which currently has twelve elementary schools: Anderson, Bell-Graham, Corron, Davis, Ferson Creek, Fox Ridge, Lincoln, Munhall, Norton Creek, Richmond, Wasco, and Wild Rose; three middle schools: Haines, Thompson and Wredling; and two high schools: St. Charles East, and St. Charles North. The Glenwood School for Boys and Girls have a campus in St. Charles known as the Rathje Campus named for the Frank C. Rathje family.


St. Charles is the home of the Kane County Fair in July and the Kane County Flea Market the first Sunday and preceding Saturday of every month. Downtown St. Charles' Lincoln Park serves as the central location for two annual citywide events: the Pride of the Fox RiverFest in June, and the Scarecrow Festival in October. St. Charles is also home to the Fox Valley Concert Band.

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.

The St. Charles Heritage Center maintains two small museums in historic local buildings.

As of Nov. 2009, the St. Charles Public Library is planning an extensive expansion that includes tearing down the houses of the block that make up 6th and 7th Avenues. The cost of the expansion will be over $22 million dollars to taxpayers. The St. Charles Library used eminent domain to acquire these properties.

Notable Natives

Brian Wilson (Beach Boys Member) lived here many years

See also

Historic homes - The Colson House in St. Charles, Illinois, was constructed by John Fabian Colson in 1882.


External links

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