Elgin, Illinois


Elgin, Illinois
Elgin, Illinois
Counties: Kane, Cook
Township: Elgin
Incorporated: City, 1854
Mayor: Dave Kaptain
ZIP code(s): 60120, 60121, 60122, 60123, 60124, 60125
Area code(s): 847 & 224
Population (2000): 108,188
Change from 1990: up 22.69%
Density: 3,779.1/mi² (1,459.3/km²)
Area: 25.0 mi² (64.7 km²)
Per capita income: $21,112
(median: $52,605)
Home value: $229,300 (2005)
(median: $138,500 (2000))
Website: cityofelgin.org
Demographics (2000)[1]
White Black Hispanic Asian
40% 7% 35% 4%
Islander Native Other
1% 1% 12%

Elgin (play /ˈɛlɨn/) is a city in northern Illinois located roughly 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Chicago on the Fox River. Most of Elgin lies within Kane County, Illinois, with a portion in Cook County, Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 108,188, making it the eighth-largest city in Illinois and the 241st largest city in the United States.

Contents

History

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832 led to the expulsion of the Native Americans who had settlements and burial mounds in the area, and set the stage for the founding of Elgin. Thousands of militiamen and soldiers of Gen. Winfield Scott's army marched through the Fox River valley during the war and accounts of the area's fertile soils and flowing springs soon filtered east.

In New York, James T. Gifford and his brother Hezekiah Gifford heard tales of this area ripe for settlement, and travelled west. Looking for a site on the stagecoach route from Chicago to Galena, they eventually settled on a spot where the Fox River could be bridged. In April 1835, they established the city, naming it after the Scottish hymn "The Song of Elgin."[2]

In 1849, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad reached Elgin, which later would be served by railroads running along both banks of the Fox River, linking the growing town to Chicago and other urban centers.[3] Early Elgin achieved fame for the butter and dairy goods it sold to the city of Chicago. Gail Borden established a condensed milk factory here in 1866, and the local library is named in his honor. The dairy industry became less important with the arrival of the Elgin Watch Company. The watch factory employed three generations of Elginites from the late 19th to the mid 20th century, when it was the largest producer of fine watches in the United States (the factory ceased production in the early 1960s and was torn town in 1965). Today, the clocks at Chicago's Union Station still bear the Elgin name.[4]

In 1872, Elgin attracted a major state institution, the Northern Illinois State Mental Hospital[3] and later a Veterans Administration Hospital.[5]

Elgin has a long tradition of education and invention. Elgin is home to the Elgin Academy, the oldest coeducational, non-sectarian college preparatory school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Elgin High School boasts five navy admirals, a Nobel Prize winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Tony Award winner, two Academy Award–winning producers, Olympic athletes and a General Motors CEO among its alumni. Elgin resident John Murphy invented the motorized streetsweeper in 1914 and later formed the Elgin Sweeper Corporation. Pioneering African-American chemist Lloyd Hall was an Elgin native, as was the legendary marketer and car stereo pioneer Earl "Madman" Muntz and Max Adler, founder of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, America's first planetarium.[4]

Local historian E.C. Alft has written several books[6] and an ongoing newspaper column about Elgin's history.[7]

Architecture and historic preservation

Historic Print of Main Building of Elgin State Hospital, which was demolished in 1993.

The city is known for its historic architecture and landmarks from the Victorian era, including some fine examples of homes in the Queen Anne style. Many of the most remarkable homes once belonged to National Watch Company executives. Many interesting Sears Catalog Homes arrived in Elgin as kits from 1908 to 1940.

Predating Victorian homes were homes made of native cobblestone. It is believed that Elgin had at one time the largest concentration of cobblestone homes outside of Rochester, New York. Several such homes built by the earliest settlers still stand. They can be seen in Elgin's historic districts, two of which are recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

The Elgin Public Museum at Lords Park is the oldest building in Illinois built expressly as a museum that is still serving that purpose.

The 9-member Elgin Heritage Commission promotes historic preservation activity. The Gifford Park Association is also active in historic preservation, and conducts a popular annual house tour.

Arts, recreation and conservation

Elgin is home to the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, one of the largest orchestras in Illinois, and a primary option for live symphonic music in Chicago's Northwest suburbs. Other classical music groups include the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra—the only youth symphony ever invited to Ravinia, the Elgin Choral Union, the Elgin Children's Chorus, and Elgin Opera Outdoor music can be heard at the Wing Park Bandshell. Theatre groups include the Janus Theatre Company, Elgin Theatre Company, Children's Theatre of Elgin, Fox Valley Youth Theatre, and Nothing Special Productions. Together, the Hemmens Auditorium and Elgin Community College's Visual & Performing Arts Center host dozens of performances a year by performers ranging from Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance Company to comedian Bill Maher.

After losing many landmark businesses in the 1980s, downtown Elgin experienced a renaissance in the 1990s with the arrival of the Grand Victoria riverboat casino and improvement in the local economy. Many historic buildings have been transformed into stylish clubs and restaurants.

Elgin's city parks include 112 acre (453,000 m²) Lords Park, which features the Elgin Public Museum, a petting zoo, and a herd of American bison, and 121 acre (490,000 m²) Wing Park, which includes a golf course. Other golf courses within Elgin include the Highlands of Elgin, the Elgin Country Club, and Bowes Creek Country Club. The Centre of Elgin, which among other features includes an aquatic park and a climbing wall, remains one of the largest municipal recreation centers in the United States. The Elgin Sports Complex on the City's Southwest side offers ten lighted ballfields, ten soccer fields and The Hill BMX track. The Complex hosts several local, regional and national tournaments every year. Elgin connects to Algonquin and Dundee to the north, and St. Charles, Geneva, and Batavia to the south by the Fox River Trail bike path.

Although one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in Illinois, Elgin still retains some of the natural beauty and habitat diversity that first brought settlers to this area. On the East, the city borders the 4,200 acres (17 km2) Poplar Creek Preserve, maintained by the Cook County Forest Preserves, which includes bike trails, hiking trails and equestrian trails. The Shoe Factory Road Prairie located in the preserve provides an example of the hill prairies that once dotted the region. Poplar Creek Preserves connects to the 4,000 acres (16 km2) Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve via a conservation easement covering parts of the Sears campus.

Elgin boasts two highly protected nature preserves, the Bluff Spring Fen and Trout Park. For its size, Bluff Spring Fen has a remarkable number of distinct plant communities, including a hill prairie and a fen, or alkaline spring marshland, which is home to several rare orchids. Trout Park also includes a similar calcerous seep community, with the addition of a unique forest community of oaks, ashes, maples, and uncommon species such as arborvitae and witch-hazel. When the park was created in the 1920s, the local newspaper ran a lengthy front-page story with lists of the plant species of Trout Park, reflecting both the great variety of plants present and interest Elginites had in conservation. In the 1960s, the Northwest Tollway bisected the site and reduced it in size.

Elgin today

Elgin ranks as one of the fastest growing cities in Illinois. In June 2005, the Chicago Tribune quoted Elgin Mayor Ed Schock saying that Elgin will in 40 years be the second largest city in Illinois. The city's Far West Development Strategy calls for the construction of 14,000 homes on agricultural land west of Randall Road, which has become a major retail corridor connecting the Fox Valley. Elgin's downtown area has also attracted developer interest. Three large residential projects will be completed in the downtown by 2007, at a total cost of more than $100 million. The Gail Borden Public Library moved into a new $30 million 460,000 volume-capacity building in October 2003. Other recent projects include the city's $41 million recreational center, the Centre of Elgin.

The city's rapid growth has been accompanied by increased concerns about traffic, urban sprawl, and the city's capacity to provide services to new residents. City officials insist that Elgin's water plants have ample capacity to serve new residents. Elgin is known for the quality of its tap water, which in the past ten years has been named both the finest in Kane County and the finest in Illinois.

In the 1990s, Elgin became one of the few cities in northern Illinois to host a riverboat casino. The Grand Victoria Casino initially generated controversy, but has since proven a significant source of income for the city. Drawing nearly four million people annually, as of March 2005, it is the fifth most popular tourist attraction in Illinois. The Grand Victoria Foundation, to which the casino has contributed an amount in excess of $116 million, provides community grants to nonprofits in the city.

A significant Laotian American community calls Elgin home.[8] Elgin has been the sister city of Vientiane, the capital of Laos, since 1967. Some Laotian Americans have opened stores and restaurants, contributing to the city's cultural diversity.

Elgin's civic society is characterized by a large, diverse, and effective group of grassroots organizations, a sense of community pride and a spirit of volunteerism and participation. In recognition of this, for the second time, Elgin won the National Civic League's prestigious All-America City Award in 2002.

Community Groups:

Government

Elgin was chartered as a city by the State of Illinois in 1854, and 100 years later, became the first city in Illinois to adopt a Council-Manager form of government. Residents elect six at-large council members and a mayor, who serve on a part-time basis. The city council meets every other Wednesday at 6:00pm at City Hall. The city manager, a full-time professional, serves at the pleasure of the mayor and city council. Elgin's current mayor and city manager are Dave Kaptain and Sean Stegall, respectively.

The city is represented in the Illinois legislature by Representatives Keith Farnham (D), Timothy L. Schmitz (R), and Fred Crespo (D) and Senators Michael Noland (D) and Chris Lauzen (R). In the US House of Representatives, Elgin is represented by Randy Hultgren (R), Peter Roskam (R), and Joe Walsh (R).

Elgin includes portions of Hanover Township in Cook County and Elgin Township, Plato Township, Rutland Township, Dundee Township, and Campton Township in Kane County. Elgin Township is governed by a supervisor (Annette Miller), clerk (Kurt Kojzarek [1]) and four trustees (Robert "Bob" Johnson, J. Patrick Hudgens, Vicki Pellock and Steve Thoren) elected to four year terms.

The Elgin fire department is the largest fire department in Illinois without a training officer, Fire Marshall or full time truck company.It currently runs 2 part time ambulances that double as part time truck companies.

Geography

Elgin is located at 42°2′22″N 88°17′19″W / 42.03944°N 88.28861°W / 42.03944; -88.28861Coordinates: 42°2′22″N 88°17′19″W / 42.03944°N 88.28861°W / 42.03944; -88.28861 (42.039426, -88.288627)[9].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.4 square miles (66 km2), of which, 25.0 square miles (65 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) of it (1.54%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 94,487 people, 31,543 households, and 22,395 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,779.1 people per square mile (1,459.3/km²). There were 32,665 housing units at an average density of 1,306.5 per square mile (504.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.49% White, 6.80% African American, 0.40% Native American, 3.88% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 15.39% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 34.32% of the population. A significant portion of Elgin's Asian population is of Laotian origin.

There were 31,543 households out of which 39.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,605, and the median income for a family was $58,404. Males had a median income of $39,581 versus $28,488 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,112. About 6.4% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.6% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Elgin has three stations on Metra's Milwaukee District/West Line, which provides daily rail service between Elgin and Chicago, Illinois (at Union Station): National Street, Elgin, and Big Timber Road. Big Timber Road is the western terminus of this service. The STAR Line would have a fourth station at the border with Bartlett.

Elgin also used to have a streetcar system, operated by the Aurora, Elgin and Fox River Electric Company. Additionally, Elgin was served by several interurban lines. The most prominent of these was the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad which provided frequent service into Chicago.

Local bus service is provided by PACE (the Suburban bus provider of the Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Authority). PACE operates about a dozen bus routes in the city with service running Monday through Saturday. Most of the routes terminate at the Elgin Bus Terminal located at 100 West Chicago Street in downtown. Routes generally run every half an hour and meet up at the terminal at the same time to provide convenient transferring. Several routes also travel out of Elgin to other nearby suburbs, such as Carpentersville, Dundee (Spring Hill Mall), Schaumburg (Woodfield Mall), and St. Charles (Charlestowne Mall and connecting bus service to Aurora and Geneva).

Greyhound Lines provides bus service from the Elgin bus terminal in downtown.

Sports

The City of Elgin is home to the Elgin Racers of the International Basketball League.

Education

Four public school districts and 18 private schools serve Elgin.

Public school districts serving Elgin:

U-46, the second largest school district in Illinois, serves an area of some 90 square miles (230 km2) in Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties. Almost 40,000 children of school age are in its area. Elgin's two public high schools, Elgin High School and Larkin High School, are home to the Gifted and Talented Academy and the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, respectively.

Private schools include:

Colleges and Universities:

  • Elgin Community College serves the district #509 communities of St. Charles, Burlington, South Elgin, Wayne, Bartlett, Algonquin, Dundee, Hampshire and smaller towns, and is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the state.
  • Judson University, an accredited, four-year liberal arts American Baptist college sits on the banks of the Fox River on the city's northwest side. Judson features graduate programs in architecture and education.
  • National-Louis University is an accredited private non-profit undergraduate and graduate institution of higher learning, in colleges of education, arts and sciences, and business and management.
  • Providence Baptist College, a four-year Independent Baptist vocational college.

Commemorative coin

Elgin, Illinois

In 1936, a commemorative silver half dollar was issued by the United States Mint commemorating the centennial of Elgin, Illinois. The coin was meant to raise money for the pioneer family memorial proposed by Elgin sculptor Trygve Rovelstad, and sold for $1.50. The obverse features the profile of a pioneer with the dates 1673 * 1936, while the reverse features a pioneer family; both images are based on a centennial "Pioneer Medal" made by Rovelstad.[11] The date 1673 is in reference to the expedition of Louis Jolliet and Pere Marquette, despite the fact that their journey took them nowhere near the future site of Elgin.

The coin did not prove to be a popular success, probably because of the Great Depression and the great variety of commemorative coins being issued at the time. Five thousand of the 25,000 coins initially minted were unsold and melted down by the mint. Rovelstad's pioneer statue was not installed until 2001.

Elgin in mass media

  • Elgin was one of the communities around the Chicago metropolitan area affected by the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on March 18, 1920.
  • The television series Roseanne was originally going to be set in Elgin[citation needed], but was later changed to the fictional town of Lanford, which is described as a short distance from Elgin. At one point, Jackie attends a trucking school in Elgin.
  • In Unearthed, an episode of the television series Prison Break, Dr. Sara Tancredi stayed at a motel in Elgin.
  • The exterior of the home in the television series Grace Under Fire is actually on Elgin's east side at 445 DuPage Street.
  • The Elgin Mental Health Center appears in the movie Primal Fear.
  • Part of the comedy film Dennis the Menace is set in Elgin.
  • Most parts of the suspense/thriller film "Contagion" was filmed in Elgin.

See also

  • List of people from Elgin, Illinois


References

  1. ^ 2000 United States Census Data
  2. ^ Alft, E.C. 1992. Elgin: Days Gone By. Crossroads Communications, Ashton, IL. Published online at elginhistory.com
  3. ^ a b http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/420.html Retrieved September 22, 2006
  4. ^ a b Alft, E.C. 1992. Elgin: Days Gone By. Crossroads Communications, Carpentersville, IL. Published online at elginhistory.com
  5. ^ Briska, William (1997). The History of Elgin Mental Health Center: Evolution of a State Hospital. Crossroads Communications. ISBN 0-916445-45-3. 
  6. ^ ElginHistory.com
  7. ^ Elgin's history - SuburbanChicagoNews.com
  8. ^ "Laotians." Tracy Steffs, Chicago Encyclopedia of History accessed online May 1, 2011.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Elgin Commemorative Half Dollar", coinfacts.com

External links


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