Main Births etc
Calumet City, Illinois
—  City  —

Calumet City, Illinois is located in Illinois
Calumet City
Coordinates: 41°36′51″N 87°32′47″W / 41.61417, -87.54639Coordinates: 41°36′51″N 87°32′47″W / 41.61417, -87.54639
Country  United States
State Illinois
County Cook
Township Thornton
Incorporated 1896
 • Type Council-Mayor
 • Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush
 • 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%
Population (2010)
 • 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) 60409
Area code(s) 708
Geocode 17-10487
Demographics (2010)[1]
White Black Asian
19.2% 70.6% 0.3%
Islander Native Other Hispanic
(any race)
0.02% 0.6% 9.3% 15.0%

Calumet CityTemplate:Pronunciation needed is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 37,042 at the 2010 census,[2] a decline of 5.2% from 2000. The ZIP code is 60409.

Calumet City (commonly referred to locally as "Cal City") was founded in 1892 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 border from Hammond, Indiana. In 1924, West Hammond officially changed its name to Calumet City.

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 First World War[]

When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, patriotic fervor led to many young men enlisting in the armed forces, and nowhere was that patriotism greater than in West Hammond, which saw a larger percentage of its population enlist than any other community in the nation. Even many members of the town's sizable German population signed up for the military to fight the Central Powers. A bronze plaque bearing the names of every citizen who served in the war was dedicated at West Hammond's Memorial Park in 1922.

"Sin City"[]

With the onset of Prohibition in 1919, West Hammond/Calumet City quickly became known for something other than its patriotism. Bootleggers found local officials and police willing to turn a blind eye, and the town became a magnet for speakeasies, gambling, and prostitution. A multitude of illegal nightclubs sprang up throughout the town, and were particularly concentrated on a stretch of State Street that quickly became known regionally and, eventually, nationally as "The Strip", just as Calumet City was dubbed the original American "Sin City". With the repeal of the Volstead Act and the return of legal liquor in 1933, Calumet City's speakeasies converted into lawful nightclubs, many of them owned or influenced by organized crime elements from Chicago (including Al Capone, who owned a "getaway" home in Calumet City). Clubs, saloons and taverns continued to prosper in Calumet City, and a new record was set when it was determined that the town had more liquor licenses per capita than any other community in the nation. Many of the clubs featured Las Vegas-style showgirl revues, as well as such marquee talent as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Keith Speaks, and Gypsy Rose Lee. Life magazine dubbed the town the "Barbary Coast of the Midwest".

By the 1960s, shadier elements had moved in to control the town's bars, gambling, narcotics and prostitution rings when the federal government began cracking down on the large crime families, breaking up their illicit holdings and sending mob bosses to prison. In the following decades, Calumet City's Strip was no longer seen as a sort of "Northern Las Vegas", but instead was infamous as a place to acquire drugs and prostitutes, and as home to a string of seedy bars that were a shadow of the nightclubs that had once reigned there.

In the 1980s and after, reformist efforts succeeded in closing down many of Calumet City's bars, and the State Street Strip today is essentially an industrial park.

The Smiley Towers[]

A notable landmark and point of pride among Cal City residents is their two large water towers painted like the popular "Have a Nice Day" smiley faces.[3]


Calumet City is located at 41°36′51″N 87°32′47″W / 41.61417, -87.54639 (41.614188, -87.546389).[4]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 7.31 square miles (18.9 km2), of which 7.18 square miles (18.6 km2) (or 98.22%) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.31 km2) (or 1.64%) is water.[5]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1940 13,241
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%

As of the 2000 census,[6] 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%).[7]

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.


Calumet City is in Illinois' 2nd congressional district.

Notable people[]

  • Ibrahim Abdulai, 2011 NFL undrafted free agent for the New York Giants[8]
  • Landon Cox, drafted to Cincinnati Bengals, July 28, 2011[9]
  • John Jurkovic, former defensive lineman for several NFL teams; currently a radio host at ESPN Radio 1000[10][11]
  • Mirko Jurkovic, former offensive guard for the Chicago Bears and All-American at the University of Notre Dame[12]
  • Mike Tomczak, former quarterback for several NFL teams including the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl champions[13][14]
  • Steve Wojciechowski, former pitcher for the Oakland Athletics

Popular references[]

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 Tailfeather" 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. (However, the Calumet City scenes in the film were filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.) Lily Tomlin's prim but assertive housewife/spokesperson "Mrs. Judith Beasley" is said to be a resident of Calumet City. ("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 Mallorys' 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.

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 talks about it as cal city or just Calumet. He grew up next door in Hammond, Indiana. Calumet City is featured in a scene from Silence of the Lambs where the FBI raid the wrong house when looking for Buffalo Bill.


Calumet City is served by several elementary school districts [1]:

  • Calumet City School District 155 [2]
    • Woodrow Wilson Memorial School
    • Wentworth Intermediate School
    • Wentworth Jr. High School
  • Dolton School District 149 [3]
    • Berger Vandenberg School
    • Carol Mosely Braun School
    • Caroline Sibley School
    • Dirksen Middle School
  • Lincoln Elementary School District 156 [4]
    • Lincoln Elementary School
  • Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District No. 157 [5]
    • 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) [6]
    • Thornwood High School
  • Thornton Fractional High School District 215 (east of Torrence Avenue) [7]
    • Thornton Fractional North High School


  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Calumet City city, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Calumet City city, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Smiley Towers". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Places: Illinois". 2010 Census Gazetteer Files. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Profile of Selected Social Characteristics, Calumet City, Illinois. U.S. Census Bureau. Accessed 2007-08-10.
  8. ^ anonymous (n.d.). "Ibrahim Abdulai". Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Landon Cox". Cincinnati Bengals. Retrieved 22 Aug 2011. "High School: Thornton Fractional North High School (Calumet City, Illinois)" 
  10. ^ "John Jurkovic". Football 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011. "High School: Thornton Fractional North (Calumet City, IL)" 
  11. ^ Foltman, Bob (3 May 2001), "WMVP shuffles afternoon lineup: Low ratings cost Simonson-Canellis", Chicago Tribune,, retrieved 11 May 2011, "Jurkovic, who played with the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring in 1999, was voted the NFL's funniest player in a Sport Magazine poll in 1998. He is a Calumet City native and a graduate of Thornton Fractional North High School." 
  12. ^ anonymous (n.d.). "Mirko Jurkovic". Notre Dame Athletics. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Hamnik, Al (11 September 2010), "Cal City's Tomczak won't ever forget 'miracle' ride", Northwest Indiana Times,, retrieved 11 May 2011, "They had accepted Tomczak, the rookie, and occasionally he was allowed to play among them. "It was a miracle ride for me," the T.F. North grad and former Ohio State star said." 
  14. ^ Myslenski, Skip; Kay, Linda (17 September 1986), "Planning ahead: Mike Tomczak reached inside the breast...", Chicago Tribune,, retrieved 11 May 2011, "Both Jo Ann and Ron Tomczak, who coached Mike at Thornton Fractional North, dashed the theory that their son had a case of the jitters Sunday." 

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Calumet City, Illinois. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.