The Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area, also known as Champaign-Urbana, is a metropolitan area in east-central Illinois. It is generally considered to be composed of three counties, Champaign, Ford, and Piatt. The Office of Management and Budget has designed the three-county Champaign-Urbana area as one of its metropolitan statistical areas (the Champaign-Urbana, IL MSA), which are used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and other agencies.
The area had a population of 210,275 at the 2000 Census. The area anchored by the principal cities of Champaign and Urbana and is home to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system. (University students, even those from outside the area, are included in Census figures if they were counted by the federal Census).
Journalists frequently treat the metropolitan area as just one city. For example, in 1998, Newsweek included the Champaign–Urbana Metropolitan Area in its list of the top ten tech cities (outside of the Silicon Valley). Champaign-Urbana also ranked tenth as one of the top twenty-five green cities in the United States, in a survey made by Country Home Magazine.
With a total area of 1,924 mi² (4,944 km²) and a population of 210,275, the population density was 109.3 people per mi² (42.53/km²) in 2000.
Urban core development
Recently, Champaign has seen its skyline going up. At the University of Illinois campus, Memorial Stadium has gone under major renovation and construction of new stands, clubs and luxury suites. In Campustown, a new 24-story highrise apartment building (locally known as the Whopper) has been completed. The Whopper is three stories higher than the older 21 story Tower at Third. The Burnham 310 Project, at 18 stories, was finished in the fall of 2008 and includes student luxury apartments and a County Market grocery store. Burnham 310 will soon have street level condos under construction, which will be part of the new Burnham District, which will connect downtown Champaign to Campustown. In downtown, the new 9 story M2 on Neil project is under construction. M2 will have offices, retail, and condos. An even bigger building with 62 condos is being planned and will sit next to M2. A new boutique hotel is also being planned. These, among other developments, are giving the city a more urban feel.
The outlying parts of the metropolitan area differ from the suburban areas of many other metropolitan areas. Instead of a sprawling suburban skirt that encircles the urban area, the urban area abuts large swaths of farmland, with small to medium sized villages that originated as farming communities. But, as the willingness of professionals to commute longer distances has increased in recent decades, new residential developments have arisen on their edges, dotting the surrounding landscape. Some of these villages are home to as many as 5,000 residents or more, but most are significantly smaller.
Most of these outlying communities, such as Savoy, Mahomet, St. Joseph, and arguably Rantoul and Monticello as well, are dependent on Champaign and Urbana for economic and infrastructure support. Predominantly, these cities and villages lie in Champaign County. These areas are populated to a substantial extent with commuters who work in Champaign or Urbana, but reside outside of the two cities. Because higher paid paid professors, doctors and technology professionals who work for the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the many clinics and hospitals in town, or in the Research Park, are more likely to maintain cars for commuting longer distances and to afford owner-occupied single-family housing, these areas lacking in mass transit and high-density rental projects often have a higher median household income than Champaign or Urbana.
In addition to residential developments in the surrounding, formerly agricultural communities, residential neighborhoods are also growing up in unincorporated areas within a short radius of the city limits, while the cities themselves are also expanding to annex areas of new development. While the annexed areas benefit from municipal services, developments that are willing to forego city sewer systems, libraries and police protection can enjoy the lower tax rates the surrounding townships levy, as fewer services are provided. Areas currently under construction extend as far as around Rising Road west of I-57 and north and east of Willard Airport. Some of this land is in Champaign Township, while some has been annexed to either Champaign or Savoy. Additional land development is occurring north of I-74 in land annexed by both Champaign and Urbana. On the eastern side of the city of Urbana, new business developments such as a Meijer, a planned Menards, and a commercial center with many restaurants and services have broken ground, as well as more suburban housing.
The issue of land development is often hotly contested by local governments. In addition to arguments for and against development, the question of potential annexations, which remove property tax revenues from the surrounding townships while increasing the urban tax base (but also the demands on urban services) is a point of constant strife between the cities and the surrounding townships. On the other hand, the availability of higher-valued housing in areas belonging to the townships or surrounding villages, which is paid for by workers earning their money within the urban infrastructure also represents a movement of potential tax dollars from Champaign and Urbana to their dependent areas.
Tourism and recreation
- Champaign County Historical Museum (Homepage). Located in the Historic Cattle Bank built in 1858. Features exhibits on the history of the area and the midwest as a whole.
- Chanute Aerospace Museum (Homepage). Showcases Illinois' role in aviation, featuring several hangars of planes on exhibit (Located in nearby Rantoul).
- Early American Museum (Homepage). Features historic exhibits on life in the early midwest.
- Krannert Art Museum (Homepage). Art Museum featuring both modern and classical art. Many changing exhibits.
- Orpheum Children's Science Museum (Homepage). A hands on science museum for children.
- Spurlock Museum (Homepage). Over 46,000 artifacts on display focusing around human culture and history throughout the world. Features some of the largest exhibits on Native North American and South American history in the nation.
Parks and recreation
- Champaign Park District features many parks, hiking trails, and biking trails in the city of Champaign.
- Urbana Park District includes exercise and biking trails, Crystal Lake, a sculpture park, and other public facilities in the city of Urbana.
- Robert Allerton Park a private estate donated to the University consisting of a large manor house (now a conference center), formal gardens, and natural woodlands and prairie. Open to the public.
- The Champaign-Urbana area is served by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, which has its main interchange at Illinois Terminal where the Greyhound Lines buses as well as Amtrak trains all have stations.
Colleges and universities
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is located jointly in Urbana and Champaign and is the flagship campus for the University of Illinois system.
- Parkland College is a community college located in Champaign.
The Champaign-Urbana Metro area is home to two hospitals, the Carle Foundation Hospital, and Provena Covenant Medical Center, with a combined total of over 550 physicians. Both hospitals are located less than a mile apart on University Avenue in Urbana. Both hospitals provide various specialized services, and Carle Hospital currently has a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a Level I Trauma Center, and a medical helicopter service. Both hospitals are currently having to face the fact that their tax-exempt statuses are being revoked by the State of Illinois.
Carle Foundation Physician Services, maintains several locations next to the hospital as well as other locations within C-U and other East Central Illinois cities. Christie Clinic, another smaller multispeciality group practice, is headquartered in downtown Champaign. They are largely affiliated with Provena Covenant Medical Center but are not as closely linked as their Carle counterparts.
Both hospitals and clinics are affiliated with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana, part of the larger University of Illinois College of Medicine, which has campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, and Urbana. The College has a teaching presence at both hospitals, although the facilities are somewhat more extensive at Carle Foundation Hospital.
Arts and culture
The Champaign–Urbana Metropolitan Area is home to many theatres. The University is home to three theatre venues; Foellinger Auditorium, Assembly Hall and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. While the Assembly Hall is primarily a campus basketball and concert arena, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is considered to be one of the nation's top venues for performance and hosts over 400 performances annually. Built in 1969, the Krannert Center's facilities cover over four acres (16,000 m²) of land, and features four theatres and an amphitheatre.
The Historic Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign is a public venue owned by the city of Champaign and administered by the Champaign Park District. It is best known for hosting Roger Ebert's Film Festival which occurs annually during the last week of April. It features a variety of performances from community theatre with the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company, to post box-office showings of popular films, current artistic films, live musical performances (both orchestral and popular), and other types of shows. First commissioned in 1921, it originally served as a venue for both film and live performances, but became primarily a movie house in the 1950s. Occasional live events were held during the 1970s and 1980s, including a live production of "Oh, Calcutta" and performances by George Benson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Missing Persons, and the Indigo Girls. GKC Corporation closed the Virginia as a movie house on February 13, 1992, with the final regular film being Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride". The theatre once again began holding regular live performances when it was leased to local gospel singer David Wyper in 1992. The Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company was formed to perform major musicals and opened their first season with "The Music Man" that June. Control passed to the Virginia Theatre group in 1996 and the theatre became a non-profit public venue. The Champaign Park District assumed control of the facilities in 2000. Its original Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ has been maintained by Warren York since 1988 and is still played regularly.
The Art Theater in downtown Champaign began as Champaign's first theatre devoted to movies, the Park, in 1912, and is a small venue showing films not normally playing at the box office. The theatre is the only single-screen movie theatre with daily operation as a movie theatre in Champaign-Urbana. The Virginia, which hosts Roger Ebert's Annual Overlooked Film Festival, is also single-screen, but only opens for special showings and events. Rapp and Rapp's 1914 Orpheum Theatre closed in the mid-1980s and now houses a children's science museum.
Parkland College in Champaign features a small theatre called the Parkland College Theatre and a planetarium called the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.
The area has originated a great deal of musical talent, starting with REO Speedwagon, Head East, Dan Fogelberg and including HUM, Poster Children, Hardvark, The Moon Seven Times, Braid, Castor, National Skyline, Absinthe Blind, Headlights, The Living Blue and The Beauty Shop. Some lesser known artists like Alma Afrobeat Ensemble, Zirafa and Spinnerty, d-Lo, Bozak, Melodic Scribes, DJ Librarian, UC Hiphop, Saint Syke, and Zmick are also worthy of note on simply a local scale.
The cities now host Pygmalion Music Festival on an annual basis, presented by the Nicodemus Agency and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Past performers include Iron and Wine, The Books, YACHT, Rjd2, Yo La Tengo, Black Mountain, Asobi Seksu, Times New Viking, of Montreal, Danielson, Man Man, Okkervil River, Andrew Bird, Questlove, and more. The 2010 festival took place September 22–25.
- Besides many commercial radio and TV stations, Champaign-Urbana has several academic, homegrown and not-for-profit media outlets.
- WRFU-LP is a low power community radio station owned and operated by Radio Free Urbana. The station was built by hundreds of volunteers from the region and around the country in November 2005 at the ninth Prometheus Radio Project barnraising. WRFU broadcasts music, news, public affairs, and political activism (usually left-leaning) to listeners at 104.5FM.
- Illini Media, located at 5th and Green in campustown, is home to the college's alternative radio station WPGU 107.1. The Illini Media Building is also home to the Daily Illini, the student-run daily newspaper, and Buzz Weekly which has quickly become a popular source for arts & entertainment news in the Champaign-Urbana area.
- Smile Politely, an online magazine focused on arts, entertainment and alternative news, opened in 2007 and is seen as the successor to previous print efforts like The Octopus, and The Hub Weekly.
While greater Champaign-Urbana does not feature any professional sports teams, the University of Illinois fields many teams which compete in the Big Ten Conference. Two large sports centers (Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall) are located in the south-east portion of Champaign. Memorial Stadium is a football arena where the Fighting Illini football team plays, and Assembly Hall is the home of the highly-successful Fighting Illini basketball team. In addition, the NFL's Chicago Bears played in the Memorial Stadium for the 2002 season while Soldier Field was being modernized and refurbished.
The city of Champaign has been working with the Frontier League to create a privately-owned professional baseball team. The team was scheduled to start playing in the 2009 baseball season, but was delayed in 2008 to the 2010 season at the earliest. Since then however, there has been no development on the matter.
The University of Illinois will host the 2010 NCAA tennis championship. The university is currently constructing a new outdoor tennis stadium next to the Atkins Tennis Center and softball field just south of Florida Avenue in Urbana. The Illini Tennis team won the 2003 NCAA tennis championships and is highly ranked nationally.
The following people are from the Champaign–Urbana Metropolitan Area or attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*:
- John Bardeen, two-time Nobel Prize winner in Physics
- Braid, rock group
- Bonnie Blair, Olympic speedskater
- Dick Butkus, hall of fame NFL football player, played for U of I
- Iris Chang, book author, historian
- Roger Ebert, film critic
- Dave Eggers, writer
- David Foster Wallace, writer
- Steven Hager, founder of the Cannabis Cup, editor-in-chief of High Times magazine
- Erika Harold, Miss America 2003
- Nick Holonyak, Jr., inventor of the visible light-emitting diode
- Hum, rock group
- Alison Krauss, bluegrass singer
- Ang Lee, filmmaker
- Robert L. Johnson, Creator of BET
- Ludacris, rapper
- Jack McDuff, jazz organist and organ trio bandleader
- Nina Paley, cartoonist, illustrator, and blogger
- REO Speedwagon, rock group
- Hamilton O. Smith, won Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1978
- Starcastle, progressive rock group
- James Tobin, won Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1981.
- George Will, political columnist
- Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy
- Thelma Strabel, novelist
- David Ogden Stiers attended high school in Urbana (with Roger Ebert)
- Timothy Zahn, Hugo-award-winning author attended U of I and began his writing career there
- ^ Population in Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas Ranked by 2000 Population for the United States and Puerto Rico: 1990 and 2000. U.S. Census Bureau. December 30, 2003. Accessed November 20, 2007.
- ^ Newsweek: The Hot New Tech Cities
- ^ CountryHome.com: 2007 Best Green Cities
- ^ The News-Gazette.com: State removes Carle's property tax exemption
- ^ Formerly Carle Clinic Association until its purchase by The Carle Foundation in 2010. 
- ^ Minor League Team in C-U Delayed IlliniHQ.com. September 3, 2008. Accessed October 28, 2009.
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