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Kankakee, Illinois
—  City  —
City of Kankakee
Kankakee County Courthouse, in Kankakee, Illinois
Location of Kankakee within Illinois
City of Kankakee
Location of Kankakee within Illinois
Coordinates: 41°7′12″N 87°51′40″W / 41.12, -87.86111Coordinates: 41°7′12″N 87°51′40″W / 41.12, -87.86111
Country United States
State  Illinois
County Kankakee
Established 1853
Incorporated (city) 1865
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Mayor Nina Epstein (R)
 • City Council 14 aldermen
 • Total 14.62 sq mi (37.9 km2)
 • Land 14.14 sq mi (36.6 km2)
 • Water 0.480 sq mi (1.24 km2)
Elevation[1] 656 ft (200 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 27,537
 • Estimate (2012) 27,349
 • Density 1,900/sq mi (730/km2)
Demonym Kankakeean
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 60901
Area code(s) 815, 779
FIPS code 17-38934[1]
GNIS feature ID 411300[1]

Kankakee ([ˌkæŋkəˈki]) is a city in and the county seat of Kankakee County, Illinois, United States.[3] The city's name probably comes from the Miami-Illinois word teeyaahkiki, meaning: "Open country/exposed land/land in open/land exposed to view,"[4][5][6][7] in reference to the area's prior status as a marsh. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 25,561, and 26,840 as of a 2009 estimate. Kankakee is a principal city of the Kankakee–Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Kankakee County.


The area of Kankakee was inhabited by the Potawatami beginning sometime in the 18th century. In 1833 the Potawatami signed a treaty with the United States government, agreeing to leave the region and move west. Kankakee was founded in 1854.[8]


Kankakee is located at 41°7′12″N 87°51′36″W / 41.12, -87.86 (41.12, −87.86)[9].

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 14.62 square miles (37.9 km2), of which 14.14 square miles (36.6 km2) (or 96.72%) is land and 0.48 square miles (1.2 km2) (or 3.28%) is water.[10]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 5,651
1890 9,025 59.7%
1900 13,595 50.6%
1910 13,986 2.9%
1920 16,753 19.8%
1930 20,620 23.1%
1940 22,241 7.9%
1950 25,856 16.3%
1960 27,666 7.0%
1970 27,575 −0.3%
1980 29,633 7.5%
1990 30,944 4.4%
2000 27,491 −11.2%
2010 27,537 0.2%
Est. 2012 27,349 [11] −0.5%

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 27,561 people, 10,020 households and 6,272 families residing within the city. The population density was 2,239.8 people per square mile (865.1/km²). There were 10,965 housing units at an average density of 893.4 per square mile (345.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.92% White, 41.07% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 5.50% from other races, and 1.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.25% of the population.

There were 10,020 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 21.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.5% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,469, and the median income for a family was $36,428. Males had a median income of $30,894 versus $22,928 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,479. About 18.1% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.3% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


Civil War Memorial by the Courthouse

Kankakee is governed by the mayor council system. The city council consists of fourteen members who are elected from seven wards (two per ward). The mayor and city clerk are elected in a citywide vote. Library service is provided by the Kankakee Public Library.


Aerial view of Kankakee. The confluence of Iroquois River and Kankakee River is visible on the left edge of the frame.


Kankakee is served by the Greater Kankakee Airport, a general aviation facility located in the southern portion of Kankakee.[13]


Amtrak provides service to Kankakee from the Kankakee Amtrak Station.[14] Amtrak operates the City of New Orleans, the Illini, and the Saluki with each train running once daily in both directions.[15]


Interstate 57 runs east-west in the southern part of the city and turns north-south in the eastern part of Kankakee. United States Highways US 45 and US 52 run concurrently forming, along with Illinois Route IL 50, the major north-south thoroughfares through Kankakee. Illinois Route IL 17 is the major east-west road the bisects the city.

Public Transportation[]

The River Valley Metro Mass Transit District operates the region's transit bus system. Service runs seven days a week to locations in Kankakee as well as the nearby cities of Aroma Park, Bradley, Bourbonnais, and Manteno. All of the Kankakee routes are stationed out of the Chestnut & North Schuyler Transfer Station.[16]

Kankakee Valley Park District[]

Kankakee Valley Park District has 28 parks with a total of 600 acres (2.4 km2) all together. Facilities include a vita course, an ice skating rink, 5 Field houses, Civic Auditorium, 96-slip marina, 13 baseball diamonds, 15 football fields, 24 playgrounds, 15 basketball courts, 24 tennis courts, 5 boat landings, a bandshell, and 25 recreational groups and clubs.[17]


Higher education[]

Organized in 1966 by a group of citizens, Kankakee Community College was established to provide a post-secondary educational resource for the people of the Kankakee area. The college offered its first classes in September 1968. It serves as an educational, vocational, and recreational center for residents of Community College District 520, an area encompassing all or part of Kankakee County, Iroquois County, Ford County, Grundy County, Livingston County, and Will County and serving a population of approximately 150,000. In its College Credit Division, KCC awards associate degrees, associate in Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion. Students attend KCC both to prepare to transfer to four-year institutions and complete bachelor's degrees and to prepare to enter the job market directly from KCC. Kankakee Community College serves over 6,000 students annually and the average class size is 16. The ratio of part-time to full-time students at Kankakee Community College is 3 to 1.[18]

Primary and secondary education[]

Public schools are part of the Kankakee School District 111. In Kankakee, there are seven elementary schools (Aroma Park, Edison, Lafayette, Mark Twain, Montessori, Steuben, and Taft), two middle schools (Kennedy and King), one junior high school (Kankakee Junior High), and one high school (Kankakee High) in the district.[19] Kankakee is also home to three private high schools: Bishop Martin D. McNamara (Catholic), Grace Christian Academy (nondenominational[20]), and Kankakee Trinity Academy (inter-denominational [21]).

In popular culture[]

  • The movie The Unborn" (2009) was partially filmed in Samuel H. Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee. Other movies to have been filmed in Kankakee County are The Hunter (1980), Child's Play (1988),[22] Chain Reaction (1996), Road to Perdition (2002), Adia (2006, short film), The Missing Peace (2006, short film), The Merry Gentleman (2008), and Demon Joe" (2009).
  • Kankakee was also briefly mentioned in the Coen Brothers (1994) film The Hudsucker Proxy. After the success of Norville Barnes new invention the "Extruded Plastic Dingus" a Tidbits of Time newsreel appears during which the narrator states "Cards, letters, congratulations come pouring in from Kankakee to Petaluma"
  • Kankakee has been immortalized in the folk song, "City of New Orleans", written by Steve Goodman. The best known version was performed by Arlo Guthrie in 1972 and appeared on the album "Hobo's Lullaby". The song tells the story of a trip on the passenger train "The City of New Orleans", originating in Chicago and stopping at Kankakee en route to New Orleans.
  • Kankakee is also mentioned in several other songs, including:
    • "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" (1939) written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. It first appeared in the 1939 Marx Brothers movie At the Circus. The song was also used in the 1940 movie The Philadelphia Story (1940), humorously performed by Virginia Weidler in the role of Dinah Lord.
    • "Innocent Bessie Brown", words and music by Irving Berlin, written in 1910, sung by the Broadway performer Ethel Green[23][24][25]
    • "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!", words and music by Sufjan Stevens, from his 2005 album "Illinois".[26][27]
    • "Circus", by Tom Waits


  • The April 1997 issue of Reader's Digest ranked Kankakee the 18th best city in the country to raise a family in,[28] in a comparison of 301 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The ratings were based on the factors that parents who were surveyed indicated were important for raising a family: low crime rate, low rate of drug or alcohol problems, quality public schools, health care, and environment, cost of living, economic growth, college availability and proximity to major city, and other considerations.
  • In 1999, Kankakee County was rated last out of 354 metropolitan areas ranked in the United States and Canada by the Places Rated Almanac. Late night television host David Letterman gave the city two identical gazebos, hoping the town could turn itself around as the "Home Of The Twin Gazebos". The gazebos can still be seen in front of the Kankakee County Courthouse. City leaders have since improved on the ranking by bringing in a water park, ice rink, revitalizing downtown, and other community improvement projects.[29] Robert Bruss, who reviewed the Places Rated Almanac for Tribune Media Services, found the Places Rated Almanac to be "woefully lacking in accurate information."[30]
  • Frank Lloyd Wright designed two houses in the Riverview section of the city, located on South Harrison Ave. The B. Harley Bradley House and the Warren Hickox House both still stand today.[31][32]
  • The current Kankankee courthouse was built from 1909 to 1912 in the Neo-classical Revivalist style in the wake of the 1893 Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair) as part of the City Beautiful movement. The architect was Zachary Taylor Davis who had previously worked with Frank Lloyd Wright when both worked as drafsmen for Louis Sullivan.
  • Kankakee is also home to the Kankakee Valley Theatre Association. This organization provides quality theatrical entertainment to the surrounding community. They put on an average of five shows a year, including two (2) youth productions under their children's theatre: Young Peoples Theatre (YPT).

Kankakee River[]

US 45 & 52 – South Washington Street crossing the Kankakee River in flood.

The Kankakee River is a river that runs through Kankakee. It is approximately 133 miles long and is a major attraction and is viewed as a defining landmark of Kankakee. The Kankakee River provides the town vital resources and an economic boost. The river water is refined at the Kankakee water company, and electricity is generated at the Kankakee River Dam. The fishing also provides a tourist attraction for outdoors men and women alike.

See also[]

  • List of people from Kankakee
  • Kankakee River
  • Kankakee Outwash Plain


  1. ^ a b c "Kankakee". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Native American Place-Names of Indiana by Michael McCafferty, 2008, p. 57
  5. ^ Native American Place-Names of Indiana by Michael McCafferty, 2008, p. 60
  6. ^ Pioneer Hunters of the Kankakee by J. Lorenzo Werich, 1920
  7. ^ Notes on the Northwest, Or Valley of the Upper Mississippi. by William J.A. Bradford, 1846
  8. ^ article on St. Rose Cemetery
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Illinois' 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ "Kankakee Valley Airport Authority". Kankakee Valley Airport Authority. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  14. ^ "Kankakee, IL (KKI)". Amtrak. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  15. ^ "City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki" (PDF). Amtrak. May 7, 2012.;filename=Amtrak_City-of-New-Orleans-Schedule-050712.pdf. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  16. ^ "Transfer Stations". River Valley Metro. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  17. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  18. ^ "Geographic Names Information System". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ "Kankakee School District Schools". Kankakee School District 111. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  20. ^ [1]"Grace Christian Academy". Grace Christian Academy. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Our Purpose". Kankakee Trinity Academy. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Kirkbride Buildings Forum • View topic – Movies Filmed at Kankakee". April 28, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Innocent Bessie Brown (5 Oct 1910) Lyrics – Berlin Irving". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  24. ^ Sheet Music Art Of Irving Berlin / Thomas Inglis. – Atglen, PA : Schiffer Pub., c2003 (p. 21 & 23)
  25. ^ The Broadway League. "The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  26. ^ "They Are Night Zombies Lyrics – Sufjan Stevens". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  27. ^ Christopher, James (July 5, 2005). "Illinois – Sufjan Stevens". AllMusic. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  28. ^ The Best Places to Raise a Family. 1997. Reader's Digest, April 1997, pp. 74-81
  29. ^ "NGA GEOnet Names Server". National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  30. ^ Data in 'Places Rated' Raises Some Questions, The Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, October 1, 2000, p. 16
  31. ^ Wright In Kankakee - Bradley House - Home
  32. ^ Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide: Includes All United States And International ... - Thomas A. Heinz, Frank Lloyd Wright - Google Books

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Kankakee, 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.