Main Births etc
none A brick road and sidewalk in a Sterling neighborhood near the Paul W. Dillon Home
A brick road and sidewalk in a Sterling neighborhood near the Paul W. Dillon Home
Country United States
State Illinois
County Whiteside
Coordinates 41°47′48″N 89°41′36″W / 41.79667, -89.69333
Area 5.94 sq mi (15 km²)
 - land 5.71 sq mi (15 km²)
 - water 0.23 sq mi (1 km²)
Population 15,370 (2010)
Density 3,307.0 / sq mi (1,277 / km²)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61081
Area code 815
Location of Sterling within Illinois
Location of Sterling within Illinois
Locator Red.svg
Location of Sterling within Illinois

Wikimedia Commons: Sterling, Illinois

Sterling is a city in Whiteside County, Illinois, United States. The population was 15,370 at the 2010 census, down from 15,451 at the 2000 census. Formerly nicknamed "The Hardware Capital of the World", Sterling has long been associated with manufacturing and the steel industry.


Sterling is located along the north bank of the Rock River opposite its twin city of Rock Falls. The terrain is mostly flat. The land immediately outside of town is almost entirely farmland. The prairie soil is part of one of the world's most fertile growing areas. According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 5.94 square miles (15.4 km2), of which 5.71 square miles (14.8 km2) (or 96.13%) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.60 km2) (or 3.87%) is water.[1]


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 15,596 people, 6,234 households, and 3,946 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,307.0 people per square mile (1,277.4/km²). There were 6,596 housing units at an average density of 1,411.8 per square mile (545.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.36% White, 2.25% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.81% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 9.82% from other races, and 2.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.24% of the population.

There were 6,234 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,664, and the median income for a family was $45,531. Males had a median income of $33,047 versus $21,944 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,432. About 7.6% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.0% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.


In 1834, Hezekiah Brink built the first cabin in what was to become Harrisburg. Two years later, William Kirkpatrick settled downstream in an area that became Chatham. In 1838, the small towns of Harrisburg and Chatham combined to become the Town of Sterling in an effort to attract the county seat. The name "Sterling" was bestowed to the new town in honor of Major James Sterling, who distinguished himself in the area during the Blackhawk War in 1832. On February 16, 1857 Sterling was incorporated as a city by state law.

The Rock River failed to become a major navigational route as once hoped, but the river provided power for the saw and grist mills, and later it provided power to a booming industrial base. In 1856, the first rail lines were laid in the area. With the power from the river and the transportation provided by the railroads, Sterling's business and industry began to grow. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the industrial bedrocks of the community were laid with the founding of Northwestern Steel & Wire Co., Lawrence Brothers Inc, National Manufacturing Co., The Frantz Manufacturing Company, and the Wahl Clipper Corporation.

Today, Sterling is continuing to diversify and adapt. The industrial base has expanded as the City has filled two industrial parks and begins development of a third and fourth. Retail sales for the region have expanded as Sterling has emerged as a regional retail hub. Just outside the City, the landscape is dominated by agricultural fields that typify most of the Midwest.

The cities of Sterling, Nebraska and Sterling, Colorado were both founded by former residents of Sterling, Illinois as they branched out across the West.


Illinois Congressional District 16; Sterling is at the cusp of Districts 14, 16, and 17

Residents of Sterling can live in one of three districts: Illinois's 14th congressional district, Illinois's 16th congressional district, or Illinois's 17th congressional district.


Sterling is served by Community Unit School District 5, which operates Sterling High School, Challand Middle School, Franklin Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Washington Elementary Schools. Wallace School serves as Sterling’s public Pre-K institution, along with classrooms in Franklin and Jefferson Elementary Schools.[3]

Sterling is also home to the Whiteside Area Career Center, located adjacent to Sterling High School. WACC hosts a variety of vocational courses, available to students of its member schools in the Sauk Valley.[4]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford currently runs two schools in the city: St. Mary’s School,[5] serving as both grade school and middle school, and Newman Central Catholic High School. These schools serve both local parishes, Sacred Heart Church and St. Mary’s Church.

Additionally, Sterling is host to one Protestant school: Christ Lutheran (K-8).


Sterling City Parks[]

Central Park is located at Brinks Circle.

Dale Park is located at Locust Street and 2nd Street.

Flock Park is located at Locust Street and 8th Street.

Lincoln Park is located at 16th Avenue and 4th Street.

Platt Park is located at 20th Avenue and 7th Street.

Wallace Park is located at Avenue G and 5th Street.

Sterling Park District Parks[]

Douglas Park was developed in 1955 when Cellular Concrete Contractors donated 2 acres (8,100 m2) of property for a park in the Douglas Park Subdivision. Douglas Park is located at Chestnut Avenue and Lynn Boulevard.

Eberley Park sits on 25 acres (101,000 m2) of wooded land. It officially opened a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) course in 1978 and is a popular place for joggers and walkers to go. Eberley Park is located at Douglas Drive and West LeFevre Road.

The Gartner Park Baseball Complex was developed in 1961 and included 7 regulation baseball diamonds and a playground area. Since then, there has been renovation on the diamonds to include press boxes, lights and field improvements. Gartner Park is located on West LeFevre Road.

Harry Kidd Field was acquired through an Open Space Land & Water Grant in 1976. It is used by Sterling Jr. Tackle as their Home field for the 5th-8th grade tackle program. Harry Kidd Field is located at West 7th Street and Woodburn Avenue.

The Hoover Park property was purchased from Edward Hoover in 1941 as an extension of Sinnissippi Park. The two parks are connected via the S.M.A.R.T. trail system. Hoover Park is located at 37th Avenue and Woodlawn Road.

Kilgour Park was purchased in 1935. This 12-acre (49,000 m2) park was once the site of Civil War Colonel William M. Kilgour's own personal farm. The site is now known for the Imagination Station play area and basketball and tennis courts. Kilgour Park is located at West LeFevre Road and Avenue F.

Lawrence Park was acquired in 1925. It is considered the first park of Sterling, and was named for the Lawrence family in honor of their bequests to the then Sterling-Coloma Township Park District. The pool was constructed in the late 1920s and is the home pool for the Sterling Sterling Stingray Swim Club. Lawrence Park is located on the Avenue G Island.

The Sinnissippi Dam Walkway and Martin's Landing officially opened on September 20, 2008, after years of combined effort from the Sterling Park District, the City of Sterling, the City of Rock Falls, the Coloma Township Park District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Sinnissippi Dam Walkway provides a link between the ever expanding trail system in Sterling and the Hennepin Feeder Canal in Rock Falls. The Sinnissippi Dam Walkway offers bicyclists, runners, walkers and other recreational users a safe and scenic route across the Rock River and Martin's Landing is the welcoming point to Sterling and the entry to the ever expanding trail system in Sterling. Martin’s Landing and the Sinnissippi Dam Walkway are located at 10th Avenue and 2nd Street (behind the Dillon Home Museum).

In 1968, the Park District received a recreational lease from the US Corp of Engineers on 31 acres (125,000 m2), which is now known as Harry Oppold Marina. In 1971, the Harbor House, park roads and lighting, a 50-foot (15 m) launch ramp, a 100-foot (30 m) main dock and parking lots were developed through a 100% funded grant. Since the leasing of Oppold, Oxbow Lake was dredged and boat slips, two picnic shelters, picnic units, playground areas, landscaping, and more has been added. Oppold Marina is located on Stouffer Road.

The Propheter Park property was donated to the Sterling Park District in 1986 by Bob Propheter. The park was named and dedicated in his honor. Propheter Park is located at 6th Avenue and East 6th Street.

In 1967, the Park District acquired the 14-acre (57,000 m2) site known as Scheid Park. In the late 1990s, major renovations include improvement of the basketball courts, soccer field, playground equipment, and the addition of a shelter. Scheid Park is located at Woodburn Avenue and West 11th Street.

The largest of the Sterling Park District parks, Sinnissippi Park was acquired in parcels beginning in 1934. It is the site for Hopewillian Indian Mounds, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Sinnissippi Park is linked to Hoover Park via the S.M.A.R.T. trail system. Sinnissippi Park is located on Sinnissippi Road.

The Skate Park was built in 2004 by the Sterling Park District. It is located behind the Duis Recreation Center and the Frasor Center at St. Mary's Road and Third Avenue.

The 12.25-acre (49,570 m2) site of Thomas Park was purchased from Sterling Farms, Inc., in 1966 in a joint venture with the Sterling School District (where Franklin School was built). The park was named after Ralph Thomas, former president and member of the Board of Commissioners from 1944-1959. Thomas Park is located at 12th Avenue & Lynn Boulevard.

Notable people[]

  • Terry Brooks, fantasy author (Shannara, Word and Void, Magic Kingdom)
  • Steve Eddy, pitcher with the California Angels
  • Virgil Ferguson, state senator, spent most of adult life in Sterling
  • Paul J. Flory, Nobel laureate in chemistry; born in Sterling
  • Dan Kolb, pitcher for the Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, and the Pittsburgh Pirates; born in Sterling
  • Tim Lawson, author
  • Joel Ryce-Menuhin, classical pianist and psychologist
  • Harry B. Mulliken, early 20th century New York City architect; born in Sterling
  • Michael Bryan Murphy, musician; former lead singer for REO Speedwagon [6]
  • Jesse Lynch Williams, awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1918.

See also[]

  • Northwestern Steel and Wire
  • Paul W. Dillon Home
  • Edward N. Kirk
  • Newman Central Catholic High School
  • Rock Falls, IL


External links[]

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