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Champaign, Illinois facts for kids

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Champaign, Illinois
Neil Street in downtown Champaign at night
Country United States
State Illinois
County Champaign
Elevation 764 ft (233 m)
Coordinates 40°06′54″N 88°16′22″W / 40.115°N 88.27278°W / 40.115; -88.27278
Area 22.46 sq mi (58.2 km²)
 - land 22.43 sq mi (58 km²)
 - water 0.03 sq mi (0 km²), 0.13%
Population 86,096 (2015)
 - urban 145,361
 - metro 231,891
Density 3,613.2 /sq mi (1,395 /km²)
Founded 1855 (West Urbana)
 - Incorporated Town 1860 (Champaign)
 - City Charter 1866
Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen
Timezone CST (UTC−6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal code 61820-61822 and PO BOX Only Codes 61824-61826
Area code 217

Champaign (English /ˌʃæmˈpn/, SHAM-paen) is a city in Champaign County, Illinois, United States. The city is 135 miles (217 km) south of Chicago, 124 miles (200 km) west of Indianapolis, Indiana, and 178 mi (286 km) northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. The United States Census Bureau estimates the city was home to 84,513 people as of July 1, 2014. Champaign is the tenth-most populous city in Illinois, and the state's fourth-most populous city outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.

Champaign is notable for sharing the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign with its sister city of Urbana. Champaign is also the home of Parkland College which serves about 18,000 students during the academic year. Due to the university and a number of well known technology startup companies, it is often referred to as the hub, or a significant landmark, of the Silicon Prairie. Champaign houses offices for Abbott, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Dow Chemical Company, IBM, State Farm, and Intel all of which are Fortune 500 companies, and for Sony.


The Cattle Bank building is the oldest surviving building in Champaign, constructed in 1858.

Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad laid its rail track two miles (3 km) west of downtown Urbana. Originally called "West Urbana", it was renamed Champaign when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio.

During February 1969, Carl Perkins joined with Bob Dylan to write the song "Champaign, Illinois", which Perkins released on his album On Top. The band Old 97's took another Bob Dylan song, "Desolation Row", and combined its melody with new lyrics to make a new song "Champaign, Illinois", which they released with Dylan's blessing on their 2010 album The Grand Theatre Volume One. It achieved considerable popularity. The two "Champaign, Illinois" songs are not similar to each other, except that Bob Dylan was involved in both of them.

On September 22, 1985, Champaign hosted the first Farm Aid concert at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers.

In 2005, Champaign-Urbana (specifically the University of Illinois) was the location of the National Science Olympiad Tournament, attracting young scientists from all 50 states. The city also hosts the state Science Olympiad competition every year. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign once again hosted the National competition on May 20–22, 2010.

In 2013, Champaign was rated fifth best place in the United States for a healthy work-life balance.



According to the 2010 census, Champaign has a total area of 22.457 square miles (58.16 km2), of which 22.43 square miles (58.09 km2) (or 99.88%) is land and 0.027 square miles (0.07 km2) (or 0.12%) is water.

Champaign is located on relatively high ground, providing sources to the Kaskaskia River to the west, and the Embarras River to the south. Downtown Champaign drains into Boneyard Creek, which feeds the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork Vermilion River.

Champaign shares a border with the neighboring city of Urbana; together they are home to the University of Illinois. Champaign, Urbana, and the bordering village of Savoy form the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area also known as Champaign-Urbana. It may also be colloquially known as the "Twin Cities" or Chambana.

The following diagram represents localities within a 35 miles (56 km) radius of Champaign.

Neighboring localities
Locality with 41,250 inhabitants (2010). Urbana (0 mi)
Locality with 7,280 inhabitants (2010). Savoy (4 mi)
Locality with 7,258 inhabitants (2010). Mahomet (10 mi)
Locality with 5,374 inhabitants (2009). Monticello (22 mi)
Locality with 4,480 inhabitants (2010). Tuscola (23 mi)
Locality with 33,027 inhabitants (2010). Danville (35 mi)
Locality with 2,916 inhabitants (2010). Arcola (30 mi)
Locality with 12,491 inhabitants (2010). Rantoul (15 mi)
Locality with 4,473 inhabitants (2010). Paxton (25 mi)
Locality with 3,407 inhabitants (2010). Gibson City (30 mi)


The city has a humid continental climate, typical of the Midwestern United States, with hot summers and cold, moderately snowy winters. Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32.2 °C) on an average of 24 days per year, and typically fall below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) on six nights annually. The record high temperature in Champaign was 109 °F (42.8 °C) in 1954, and the record low was −25 °F (−31.7 °C), recorded on four separate occasions − in 1899, 1905, 1994 and 1999.

Climate data for Champaign, Illinois
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Average high °F (°C) 33.8
Average low °F (°C) 18.2
Record low °F (°C) −25
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.90
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.1
Source #1: Weatherbase
Source #2: Homefacts


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,727
1870 4,625 167.8%
1880 5,103 10.3%
1890 5,839 14.4%
1900 9,098 55.8%
1910 12,421 36.5%
1920 15,873 27.8%
1930 20,348 28.2%
1940 23,302 14.5%
1950 39,563 69.8%
1960 49,583 25.3%
1970 56,837 14.6%
1980 58,133 2.3%
1990 63,502 9.2%
2000 67,518 6.3%
2010 81,055 20.0%
Est. 2015 86,096 6.2%
U.S. Census Bureau

As of the 2010 census, 81,055 people and 34,434 total housing units in Champaign. The population density was 3,974.6 people per square mile (1,534.4/km²). There were 28,556 housing units at an average density of 1,681.0 per square mile (648.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.8% White, 15.62% African-American, 0.3% Native American, 10.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino individuals of any race made up 6.3% of the population.

According to the 2010 Census the city's 32,152 households, 21.5% included children under age 18, 33.1% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.7% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 persons and the average family size was 2.97.

According to the 2010 Census of all individuals, 17.3% were under age 18, 22.5% from 20 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 18% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% were age 65 or older. The median age was 25.7 years. For every 100 females there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.9 males.

According to the 2010 Census the median income for a household in the city was $41,403, and the median income for a family was $72,819. The per capita income for the city was $24,855. About 11.9% of families and 26.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

Landmarks and districts

See also: National Register of Historic Places listings in Champaign County, Illinois
A panorama facing south on Neil Street of Downtown Champaign in November 2013
A panorama facing south on Neil Street of Downtown Champaign in November 2013

Champaign City Building

The Champaign City Building serves as the City Hall and is a recognizable landmark. The building replaces the original city building, which sat on the same site until 1937.

Champaign Public Library


In the 1980s, part of the downtown Champaign area (Neil St.) was closed to vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian mall, but this short-lived experiment was scrapped when business declined. As part of a revitalization effort, One Main Development constructed two new mixed-use buildings: One Main and M2 on Neil. The City of Champaign gave $3.7 million in tax incentives for the building of M2 and agreed to pay nearly $11 million for a new parking deck.

This growth in downtown Champaign coincided with the larger growth of the "north Prospect" shopping district on the city's northern boundary. The growth in the north Prospect area relied, in part, on leapfrogging, moving out to the countryside and developing more remote farm land that eventually connects to the main development. Given the overwhelming success of such suburban shopping areas nationally, new development within any city center represented an alternative to the dominant movement out and away from the cities.

Downtown Champaign Alley
North view of one of several alleyways in Downtown Champaign

In April 2007, One Main Development broke ground on M2 on Neil, a nine-story, $40 million, mixed-use project – the largest ever for downtown Champaign – located at the corner of Neil and Church Street. M2 on Neil features retail and office space, and 50 upscale condominiums. Opened in 2009, the M2 project has been a significant part of the revitalization of downtown and has persevered through the global economic challenges to become a destination for business owners and residents seeking the energy of the downtown community. M2 stands where a surface parking lot was just a decade ago. It also encompasses the restored façade of the original Trevett-Mattis Bank, originally at 112 W. Church St. on the south side of the building.

As of 2016, all of the condos have been sold to private owners and the office and retail floors of the building hit 95% occupancy. A unique feature of the M2 building is The Enclave, located on the 4th floor. The Enclave offers office space to smaller businesses in a Class A office environment with shared amenities like shared reception, business center, conference rooms, kitchen and more. The increase in business tenants and residents now located in One Main Plaza and M2 have revived the downtown atmosphere and it is now a thriving center of dining and entertainment. One Main Plaza featured retail tenants such as Big Grove Tavern, Ko Fusion, Merry Ann’s Diner and Snow Meets Coffee. M2on Neil features Destihl, Miga, Dublin O’Neil’s and Mongolia 301. You can learn more about each property at and

The City of Champaign has constructed a six-story parking structure on Hill Street adjacent to M2, intended to service the greater Downtown; it was completed in May 2009.

For more information on Downtown Champaign visit the Champaign Center Partnerships website.

The Art Theater Co-op

Art Theater Champaign
The Art Theater in downtown Champaign

The Art Theater Co-op, which shows critically acclaimed independent and foreign films, was built in 1913 as the Park Theatre. It has since undergone several changes in name and repertoire, including a phase from 1969 to 1986, in which it showed adult films. The theater is the only single-screen movie theater still in existence operating daily as a movie theater in Champaign-Urbana, and is the nation's first co-operatively owned art movie theater.

Historic Virginia Theatre

The historic Virginia Theatre is a recently restored 1525-seat movie theater, dating back to the 1920s. It has an ornate, Spanish Renaissance-influenced interior, full stage and dressing rooms, and an elaborate Wurlitzer pipe organ. It hosts Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival and has a single 56' x 23' screen. The theater does not have a daily show schedule, but schedules special screenings and live performances several times each month.


Green Street (Champaign, Illinois)
A view of Green Street in Campustown, facing east
Green Street at night

Located along Green Street, this commercial district serves as the entertainment and retail center for students at the University of Illinois. This area has been undergoing change since 2002 with the completion of a new $7 million streetscape project. Campustown is now attracting new retail and entertainment stores as well as serving as the center for new construction projects. Several new projects opened in 2008 including the 18-story Burnham 310 high-rise and grocery store at 4th and Springfield, and a new 24-story apartment building called 309 Green.

The newly renamed Tower at 3rd (formerly Champaign Hilton, Century 21, Quality Inn, University Inn, Presidential Tower) is located in the University District and is over twenty stories high. A hotel until 2001, it currently houses student apartments.

A new 14-story apartment complex was completed in 2014 at the intersection of 6th and Green streets (site of the former Gameday Spirit). A 12-story, mixed-use complex consisting of a hotel, apartments and parking was scheduled to be completed by August 2015. The mixed-use complex is reported to consist of two towers which will be connected by a skywalk. A 27-story apartment building is planned at 308 East Green Street. This high-rise is reported to have an automated parking vault which will be operated by an elevator.


There are 60 parks, 11 trails, and 14 facilities within the city of Champaign, totaling over 654 acres (2.65 km2).


  • Orpheum Children's Science Museum. A hands on science museum for children.
  • Krannert Art Museum. An Art Museum featuring both modern and classical art owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. It has 48,000 square feet (4,500 m2) of space devoted to all periods of art, from ancient Egyptian to contemporary photography.
  • Champaign County Historical Museum. Located in the Historic Cattle Bank built in 1858. Features exhibits on the history of the area and the midwest as a whole.


Champaign is served by I-57, I-72, I-74, two railroad lines, and the University of Illinois operated Willard Airport (CMI).



Champaign is served by Willard Airport (CMI) which is operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The airport is currently served by American Airlines offering daily flights to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Housed at the Willard Airport was the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation, which was forced to close for the 2013–2014 academic year due to university budget cuts after 60 years of operation.

Mass transit

The local bus system, which is supported by the taxpayers of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) and the University of Illinois, serves Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and surrounding areas. The C-U MTD has twice been named as the best local transit system in the United States.

Champaign-Urbana area IMG 0969
A Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit bus

Illinois Terminal

In 1999, a newly designed intermodal transportation center, aptly named Illinois Terminal by historic reference to the defunct electric interurban rail line that once ran through Champaign, was completed and serves as a central facility for intercity passenger rail, bus services as well as the MTD's local bus network.


Amtrak provides service to Champaign-Urbana by Train 58/59, the City of New Orleans, Train 390/391, the Saluki Train 392/393, the Illini.

The former Illinois Central Railroad line — now part of the Canadian National system — runs north to south through the city. A spur line from the Canadian National line provides service to several large industries, including two large food processing plants, on the west edge of Champaign and two grain elevators in outlying communities to the west. The Norfolk Southern operates an east to west line through Champaign. The NS line connects industries in eastern Urbana to the Norfolk Southern main line at Mansfield, Illinois, west of Champaign. The line now operated by Norfolk Southern is the former Peoria & Eastern Railway, later operated as part of the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway), New York Central, Penn Central, and Conrail systems, being sold by Conrail to Norfolk Southern in 1996. Construction of the line was begun by the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad. This short-lived entity became part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway before the railroad was completed.


Greyhound Lines, Peoria Charter Coach Company and Suburban Express bus companies provide intercity bus service to Champaign.

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