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Calumet City, Illinois facts for kids

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Calumet City, Illinois
Location in Cook County and the state of Illinois.
Location in Cook County and the state of Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois 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 7.31 sq mi (18.9 km2)
 • Land 7.18 sq mi (18.6 km2)
 • Water 0.12 sq mi (0.3 km2)  1.64%
 • Total 37,042
 • Density 5,159.1/sq mi (1,991.9/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
Demographics (2010)
White Black Asian
19.2% 70.6% 0.3%
Islander Native Other Hispanic
(any race)
0.02% 0.6% 9.3% 15.0%

Calumet City ( kal-yew-MET) is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 37,042 at the 2010 census, a decline of 5.2% from 2000. The ZIP code is 60409.

Calumet City (commonly referred to locally as "Cal City") was founded in 1893 when the villages of Schrumville and Sobieski Park merged under the name of West Hammond, since it lies on the west side of the Illinois-Indiana line from Hammond, Indiana. In 1924, West Hammond officially became Calumet City after its citizens voted to change the name in 1923.

In addition to being bordered to the east by Hammond, it is also bordered by Burnham and Chicago to the north, Lansing to the south, and South Holland and Dolton to the west.

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%
Est. 2015 37,031 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2000 census, there were 39,071 people, 15,139 households, and 10,006 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,378.0 people per square mile (2,077.9/km²). There were 15,947 housing units at an average density of 2,195.1 per square mile (848.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.74% White, 52.91% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.37% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.86% of the population, including 9.4% of Mexican descent.

The top four European ancestries reported in Calumet City as of the 2000 census were Polish (12.7%), German (6.5%), Irish (5.1%) and Italian (3.8%).

There were 15,139 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, 22.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.8% Of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city, the age distribution of the population was 28.7% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,902, and the median income for a family was $45,998. Males had a median income of $37,231 versus $30,555 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,123. About 9.8% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

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.

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