Main Births etc
Country United States
State Illinois
County LaSalle
Townships Peru, Dimmick
Elevation 597 ft (182 m)
Coordinates 41°20′4″N 89°7′39″W / 41.33444, -89.1275
Area 9.07 sq mi (23 km²)
 - land 8.96 sq mi (23 km²)
 - water 0.11 sq mi (0 km²)
Population 10,295 (2010)
Density 1,655.5 / sq mi (639 / km²)
Mayor Scott Harl
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61354
Area code 815
Location of Peru within Illinois
Location of Peru within Illinois
Locator Red.svg
Location of Peru within Illinois

Wikimedia Commons: Peru, Illinois

Peru is a city in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. The population was 10,295 at the 2010 census. It is part of the OttawaStreator Micropolitan Statistical Area. Peru and its twin city, LaSalle, make up the core of Illinois Valley.[1]


Peru is located at 41°20′4″N 89°7′39″W / 41.33444, -89.1275 (41.334458, -89.127385).[2]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 9.07 square miles (23.5 km2), of which 8.96 square miles (23.2 km2) (or 98.79%) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) (or 1.21%) is water.[3]

Located on the Illinois River, Peru lies 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the intersection of two major interstate highways: Interstate 39 and Interstate 80. The city is also the western terminus of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal. Before the [Illinois Waterway] was constructed, the Illinois River was navigable only up to Peru. Starved Rock State Park, a regional tourist attraction, is located 5 miles (8.0 km) south-east of the community. Peru has a twin city on its eastern edge, LaSalle.


Aerial view of Peru, Illinois

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 1,279
1860 3,139 145.4%
1870 3,650 16.3%
1880 4,632 26.9%
1890 5,550 19.8%
1900 6,863 23.7%
1910 7,984 16.3%
1920 8,869 11.1%
1930 9,121 2.8%
1940 8,983 −1.5%
1950 8,653 −3.7%
1960 10,460 20.9%
1970 11,772 12.5%
1980 10,873 −7.6%
1990 9,302 −14.4%
2000 9,820 5.6%
2010 10,295 4.8%
Decennial US Census

As of the 2010 census there were 10,295 residents, 4,143 households, and 2,672 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,655.5 people per square mile (639.3/km²). There were 4,413 housing units at an average density of 742.8 per square mile (286.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.47% White, 0.32% African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.11% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.16% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.08% of the population.

There were 4,143 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 21.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,060, and the median income for a family was $48,180. Males had a median income of $39,722 versus $21,961 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,658. About 4.8% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.


File:Maud Powell Monument in Peru, Illinois.jpg

The Maud Powell monument that stands on 4th Street in Peru

The city was organized as a borough in 1838, and was officially incorporated as a city on March 13, 1851. The original plat was between West Street, 4th Street, and East Street (now Pine Street).

The city's first settler was John Hays, who arrived in 1830. The town became a successful river port, but with the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, it was soon eclipsed by La Salle. It remained an important river port as the northernmost limit of navigation on the Illinois until 1900. Along with the river and canal, the Rock Island Railroad and Chicago Burlington and Quincy ran through Peru. Plank Road, northwest of town was originally a toll road meant to reach Dixon, Illinois. These important transportation routes, along with coal mining in at least four mines lasting from at least 1857 until 1949,[1][1] prompted Peru's rise to and industrial center.

Industry in Peru started with ice harvesting. Soon after, James Barton invented and built a polygonal mill, and the Brunner Foundry and Machine Co,[4] Star Union Brewery, and Peru Plow and Wheel Company came to be. The Illinois Zinc Company, together with the Mattiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company in LaSalle, made LaSalle-Peru the center of the world's zinc industry for some time. Maze Lumber used the canal to import lumber to the Illinois River valley from Wisconsin. Later came Maze Nails, America's last nail makers, the American Nickleoid Company and Westclox. Westclox was a model employer and the area's largest with nearly four thousand employees. When they closed in the late 1970s, the population fell. On New Year's Eve 2011, a fire broke out at the Westclox Complex, destroying much of the local landmark which had recently been deemed eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.[5] The fire was determined arson and the suspects await trial.

Due to the decline in rail and river traffic, industry, being bypassed by Route 251, and periodic flooding, the historic Water Street district gradually fell into disuse and has been largely demolished. A smaller downtown on the bluff has survived, though the Turn Hall, was demolished by the city in 1980. This building was the location of Maud Powell's first performance. Maud Powell, the world renowned violinist, was born on 1112 Bluff Street, where the 251 bridge currently stands.


Both Peru and neighboring LaSalle share a High School, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, affectionately called L-P. L-P has the Cavaliers and Lady Cavaliers as its mascots, referencing Cavelier Rene Robert de LaSalle, who discovered and established forts in the area.


The Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, Illinois

The area's coal deposits helped make Peru a zinc manufacturing center in its early history (the manufacture of zinc requires large amounts of coal). Originally zinc ore was brought down from Galena, Illinois, by route of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In terms of transportation cost, Peru was the closest point to the Galena mines with readily available coal.

Peru's main shopping mall is the Peru Mall.

Peru is home to the offices of Carus Chemical Company, the largest manufacturer of potassium permanganate in the world. Maze Nail, one of America's last nail makers, is located in Peru, Illinois as well. Started in 1848, it is also one of the oldest continuously-operating businesses in Peru.

Peru is also home to the national headquarters of American Nickeloid.

Notable people[]

  • John Virginius Bennes, architect
  • William P. Bettendorf and Joseph W. Bettendorf, industrialists
  • Zez Confrey, (1895–1971) composer and pianist
  • Franklin Corwin, US congressman
  • Gary G. Dahl, politician
  • Mike Goff, offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs
  • Ken Gorgal, halfback for the Green Bay Packers
  • J. A. Happ, professional baseball pitcher that has played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays
  • Wilhelmina Kott, (1880-1994) oldest person ever from Illinois; born in Peru
  • Donold Lourie, businessman, government official, and college football player
  • Thomas Lynch, pitcher for the 19th-century Chicago White Stockings; born in Peru
  • Russ Meyer, pitcher for six Major League Baseball teams
  • Esther Hobart Morris, judge in Wyoming
  • Maud Powell, (1867–1920) violinist
  • Howard C. Ryan, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
  • Frank Vlastnik, theater and television actor


  1. ^ a b c Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "record" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "record" defined multiple times with different content
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links[]

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