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Calumet City, Illinois
One of the two smiley face water towers in Calumet City
One of the two smiley face water towers in Calumet City
Official seal of Calumet City, Illinois
Location of Calumet City in Cook County, Illinois.
Location of Calumet City in Cook County, Illinois.
Calumet City, Illinois is located in Illinois
Calumet City, Illinois
Calumet City, Illinois
Location in Illinois
Calumet City, Illinois is located in the United States
Calumet City, Illinois
Calumet City, Illinois
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State Illinois
County Cook
Township Thornton
Incorporated (Village) February 13, 1893
(as West Hammond)
Incorporated (City) 1924
(as Calumet City)
 • Type Council-Mayor
 • Total 7.32 sq mi (18.96 km2)
 • Land 7.20 sq mi (18.64 km2)
 • Water 0.12 sq mi (0.32 km2)  1.64%
 • Total 36,033
 • Density 5,005.97/sq mi (1,932.85/km2)
Standard of living (2009-11)
 • Per capita income $20,390
 • Median home value $121,900
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 708
Geocode 17-10487
FIPS code 17-10487

Calumet City ( kal-YUU-met) is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 36,033 at the 2020 census, a decline of 2.7% from 2010. The ZIP code is 60409.

The Smiley Towers

A landmark and point of pride among Cal City residents is the pair of large water towers painted like the popular "Have a Nice Day" smiley faces.


Seal of Calumet City

Calumet City is located at 41°36′51″N 87°32′47″W / 41.61417°N 87.54639°W / 41.61417; -87.54639 (41.614188, -87.546389).

According to the 2010 census, Calumet City has a total area of 7.314 square miles (18.94 km2), of which 7.19 square miles (18.62 km2) (or 98.3%) is land and 0.124 square miles (0.32 km2) (or 1.7%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 2,935
1910 4,948 68.6%
1920 7,492 51.4%
1930 12,298 64.1%
1940 13,241 7.7%
1950 15,799 19.3%
1960 25,000 58.2%
1970 32,956 31.8%
1980 39,697 20.5%
1990 37,840 −4.7%
2000 39,071 3.3%
2010 37,042 −5.2%
2020 36,033 −2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
2010 2020

2020 census

Calumet City, Illinois - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 4,928 2,676 13.30% 7.43%
Black or African American alone (NH) 25,888 25,959 69.89% 72.04%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 58 51 0.16% 0.14%
Asian alone (NH) 108 50 0.29% 0.14%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 7 4 0.02% 0.01%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 31 116 0.08% 0.32%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 448 701 1.21% 1.95%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 5,574 6,476 15.05% 17.97%
Total 37,042 36,033 100.00% 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.

2010 Census

As of the 2010 census, there were 37,042 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 20.4% White, 71.9% African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 8.1% from other races, with 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.0% of the population, including 13.4% of Mexican descent.

There were 13,978 households (and 9,052 families), out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.8% were husband-wife families, 27.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.2% were non-families. 38.8% Of all households had individuals under 18 years and 25.9% housed someone 65 years of age or older. 12.6% were people over 65 years of age living alone. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.35.

In the city, the age distribution of the population was 28.2% under the age of 18, 60.1% from 18-65 and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.2 males.

According to the 2015 American Community Survey The median income for a household in the city was $38,557, and the median income for a family was $49,086. Full-time, year-round male workers had a median income of $43,494 versus $39,573 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,483. About 19.2% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line in the past 12 months, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over. 51.9% were employed, and 12.9% were unemployed.

In popular culture

Calumet City is featured or mentioned in a number of major movies. John Belushi's "Joliet Jake" and Dan Aykroyd's "Elwood" characters from The Blues Brothers were born in Calumet City, and so is the orphanage they grew up in which they save "on a mission from God" by paying $5000 in property taxes from a $10,000 record deal at their concert, as well as "Ray's Music Exchange" that holds the famed Ray Charles "Shake Your Tail-Feather" scene of the movie, which was a tribute to Calumet City's Hegewisch Records Store. In the book and film The Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill is thought to be hiding in Calumet City, when he is actually in Belvedere, Ohio. The Calumet City scenes in the film were filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, however. Lily Tomlin's prim but assertive housewife/spokesperson "Mrs. Judith Beasley" is said to be a resident of Calumet City. She said, "Hi. I am not an actress, but a real person like yourself."

Calumet City is also referenced by a number of popular music acts. The Black Crowes included a video of the Smiley Towers in their 1990 video for "Hard to Handle". A photograph of the "Dolton" smiley water tower is featured on the back of the Dead Kennedys album Plastic Surgery Disasters. Rapper Twista has referenced Calumet City. Kanye West's reference to Calumet in his 2005 song "Drive Slow" does not refer to Calumet City, but rather to Calumet High School, which was located in the South Side of Chicago and not in Calumet City.

The Smiley Tower is also featured in the movie Natural Born Killers; it is seen out the window of Mallory's family home (part of that movie was filmed in Hammond, Indiana). In the Nine Inch Nails music video on the director's cut of the same film, the Smiley Tower and Dolton Avenue/State Street is featured.

The founders of the Calumet Baking Powder Company adopted its brand name from the original Native American word for the land that became Calumet City. They later named one of thoroughbred horse racing's most famed and successful enterprises, Calumet Farm, after the company.

In 2004, Alan Keyes purchased a raised ranch house in Calumet City to establish residency in Illinois so he could run for the U.S. Senate in place of Jack Ryan against Barack Obama, although instead of residing in the house, he officially moved into an apartment elsewhere in town, on Garfield Avenue.

In 2010, pop music group Hanson remade the "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene of the movie "The Blues Brothers" for the music video for their hit "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, paying homage to Calumet City's Ray's Music Exchange, John Belushi, and Ray Charles.

Jean Shepherd (writer and narrator of the classic movie "A Christmas Story") in radio broadcasts from WOR radio, New York in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and in his PBS specials of the 1970s and 1980s, and his many books, often refers to it as Cal City or just Calumet. He grew up next door in Hammond, Indiana.


Calumet City is served by several elementary school districts:

  • Calumet City School District 155
    • Woodrow Wilson Memorial School
    • Wentworth Intermediate School
    • Wentworth Jr. High School
  • Dolton School District 149
    • Berger Vandenberg School
    • Carol Moseley Braun School
    • Caroline Sibley School
    • Dirksen Middle School
  • Lincoln Elementary School District 156
    • Lincoln Elementary School
  • Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District No. 157
    • Hoover Elementary School
    • Schrum Memorial Middle School

The city is served by two high school districts:

  • Thornton Township High School District 205 (west of Torrence Avenue)
    • Thornwood High School
  • Thornton Fractional High School District 215 (east of Torrence Avenue)
    • Thornton Fractional North High School

Notable people

  • Landon Cox, drafted to Cincinnati Bengals, July 28, 2011
  • Arline M. Fantin, Illinois state representative
  • Frank Giglio, Illinois state representative
  • John Jurkovic, defensive lineman for several NFL teams; radio host at ESPN Radio 1000
  • Mirko Jurkovic, former offensive guard for the Chicago Bears and All-American at the University of Notre Dame
  • Alan Keyes (born 1950), conservative political activist and perennial candidate. Keyes moved from Maryland to Calumet City to establish after being drafted by the Illinois Republican Party to run against Barack Obama in the 2004 United States Senate election.
  • Gene Krupa, jazz drummer, buried in Holy Cross Cemetery
  • DJ Rashad, Chicago house music producer
  • Mike Tomczak, quarterback for several NFL teams, including the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl champions
  • Steve Wojciechowski, former pitcher for the Oakland Athletics
  • Tink, singer-songwriter
  • Tim Walberg (born 1951), member of the United States House of Representatives from Michigan. His family moved from Chicago to Calumet City and he attended Thornton Fractional Township North High School.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Calumet City para niños

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