Champaign, Illinois: Wikis


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City of Champaign
Neil Street in Downtown Champaign at Night
Country United States
State Illinois
County Champaign
Elevation 738 ft (224.9 m)
Coordinates 40°06′47″N 88°15′40″W / 40.112981°N 88.261227°W / 40.112981; -88.261227
Area 17.0 sq mi (44 km2)
 - land 17.0 sq mi (44 km2)
 - water 0.04 sq mi (0 km2), 0.24%
Population 75,254 (2007)
Density 3,974.6 /sq mi (1,535 /km2)
Founded 1855 (West Urbana)
 - Incorporated Town 1860 (Champaign)
 - City Charter 1866
Mayor Gerald Schweighart
Timezone CST (UTC−6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal code 61820, 61821, 61822
Area code 217
Location of Champaign within Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States

Champaign is a city in Champaign County, Illinois, in the United States. The city is located 135 miles (217 km) south of Chicago, 124 miles (200 km) west of Indianapolis, Indiana, and 178 miles (286 km) northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. Though surrounded by farm communities, Champaign is notable for sharing the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with its sibling city of Urbana. Thanks to the university and a number of well known technology startup companies, it is often referred to as the hub, or at least a significant landmark, of the Silicon Prairie. Champaign houses offices for seven Fortune 500 companies, and two more are planned to arrive soon.

As reported in the 2000 U.S. Census, the city was home to 67,518 people. The city held a special census in 2007 that showed that its population had grown to 75,254.[1] The mayor is Gerald Schweighart, whose term will expire in 2011.



The First Presbyterian Church of Champaign [1] founded 1850 in the city's historic 'Sesquicentennial Neighborhood', is the oldest church in town.

Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad laid its rail track two miles west of downtown Urbana. Originally called "West Urbana," it was renamed Champaign when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio.

On September 22, 1985, Champaign hosted the first Farm Aid concert at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers.

In 2005, Champaign-Urbana (specifically the University of Illinois) was the location of the National Science Olympiad Tournament, attracting young scientists from all 50 states. The city also hosts the state Science Olympiad competition every year. The University of Illinois is next expected to host the National competition in 2010.


Champaign is located at 40°6′47″N 88°15′40″W / 40.11306°N 88.26111°W / 40.11306; -88.26111 (40.112981, -88.261227)[2].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.0 square miles (44.1 km²), of which, 17.0 square miles (44.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.12%) is water.

Champaign shares a border with the neighboring city of Urbana; together they are home to the University of Illinois. Champaign, Urbana, and the bordering village of Savoy form the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area also known as Urbana-Champaign or Champaign-Urbana. It may also be colloquially known as the "Twin Cities" or Chambana.[3]


As of the 2000 census[4], 67,518 people, 27,071 households, and 12,452 families resided in Champaign. The population density was 3,974.6 people per square mile (1,534.4/km²). There were 28,556 housing units at an average density of 1,681.0/sq mi (648.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.16% White, 15.62% African-American, 0.24% Native American, 6.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.94% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino individuals of any race made up 4.03% of the population.

Of the city's 27,071 households, 22.0% included children under age 18, 34.4% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 36.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 persons and the average family size was 2.95.

Of all individuals, 17.8% were under age 18, 31.7% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% were age 65 or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,795, and the median income for a family was $52,628. Males had a median income of $36,574 versus $27,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,664. About 8.1% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

The 2005 median home value was $131,000, a 6.8% increase from 2004, according to Money Magazine.


In addition to the University of Illinois, Champaign is also home to Parkland College. Herff-Jones (formerly the Collegiate Cap and Gown) also forms part of the city's industrial base.

The city also features a large technology and software industry mostly focusing around research and development of new technologies. The Research Park, located in southern Champaign and backed by the University of Illinois, is home to many companies including iCyt (a biotechnology company), the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, Yahoo!, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Science Applications International Corporation, State Farm Research Center [5] , Riverglass Inc. and Tekion (a fuel cell company). Numerous other software and technology companies also have offices in Champaign including Wolfram Research, AMD, Intel, IBM, Amdocs, Instarecon, Phonak, Power World, Caterpillar Simulation Center, and Volition, Inc.. The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign.

Champaign is also home to nationally recognized record labels, artist management companies, booking agencies and recording studios. Polyvinyl Records, Undertow Music, Parasol Records, Great Western Record Recorders, Pogo Studios, and Nicodemus Booking Agency are all based in Champaign.

Champaign's major employers include The University of Illinois, Champaign Unit #4 School District, Parkland College, Kirby Foods, Christie Clinic, Devonshire Group LLC, Amdocs, City of Champaign, Hobbico and Horizon Hobby. Other major employers outside the city limits of Champaign that employ significant numbers of Champaign residents include Kraft Foods (unincorporated Champaign Township), Carle Clinic Association and Provena Health (both in Urbana).

Partial list of mayors

  • Gerald Schweighart (1999-present)
  • Dannel McCollum (1987-1999)
  • Robert Dodd (1983-1986)
  • Joan Severns (1979-1983)
  • William Bland (1975-1979)
  • Virgil Wikoff (1967-1975)
  • Emmerson Dexter (1959-1967)
  • V. Lafferty (1951-1959)
  • George Babb (1943-1951)
  • James Flynn (1939-1943)
  • C. Mullikin
  • M. Flynn
  • George Franks (1927-1930
  • George Babb (1922-1927)
  • S. C. Tucker (1918-1922)
  • E.S. Swigart (1916-1918)
  • O.B. Dobbins (1913-1916)
  • W. Coughlin (1911-1913)

Landmarks and districts


Champaign City Building

The Champaign City Building.

The Champaign City Building serves as the City Hall and is a recognizable landmark. The building replaces the original city building which sat on the same site until 1937. Groundbreaking on the current City Building began immediately in 1937. As one of the most visible buildings in the downtown district, it serves as a city symbol, with its likeness featured on the city seal. The ornate decoration, art deco architecture, and copper roof distinguish the building. The building was originally used as city offices and as the headquarters for the fire department. It later became the headquarters for the police department, complete with indoor shooting range, before becoming the current city offices. Evidence of this change is found on University Avenue where the keystone above the door reads "CFD" with the "F" later becoming a "P" for police. The building is currently undergoing a 10 month restoration project which is tuckpointing and replacing failed lintels. The buildings stone work is also being cleaned. All of this work will be complete in October just ahead of the 75th Anniversary of the buildings groundbreaking.

The Tower at 3rd

The newly-renamed Tower at 3rd (formerly Champaign Hilton, Century 21, Quality Inn, University Inn, Presidential Tower) is located in the University District and is over twenty stories high. A hotel until 2001, it currently houses student apartments and several University of Illinois offices, including the Office of Continuing Education.


In the 1980s, part of the downtown Champaign area (Neil St.) was closed to vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian mall, but this short-lived experiment was scrapped when business declined. Initiated by Jon "Cody" Sokolski, a former record store owner [6] turned CEO of One Main Development, the downtown area of Champaign was recently the target of a revitalization effort that was intended to bring more businesses into the area and return the downtown district to the center of city life. In addition to efforts that restored the facades on many of the historic buildings, additional construction projects including restaurants, bars, shops, office space, and condominiums increased the size of the downtown area. And while some of the distinct turn-of-the-century architecture associated with the city was retained through these efforts, it was thought by some to be updated significantly by pairing older buildings with two new anchors: One Main and M2. The City of Champaign gave $3.7 million in tax incentives for the building of M2 and agreed to pay nearly $11 million for a new parking deck.[7]

Downtown Champaign.

This growth in downtown Champaign coincided with the larger growth of the "north Prospect" shopping district on the city's northern boundary. The growth in the north Prospect area relied, in part, on leapfrogging, moving out to the countryside and developing more remote farm land that eventually connects to the main development. Given the overwhelming success of such suburban shopping areas nationally, new development within any city center represented an alternative to the dominant movement out and away from the cities.

In April 2007, One Main Development broke ground on M2, a nine-story, $40 million, mixed-use project, the largest ever for downtown Champaign, located at the corner of Neil and Church Street. M2 on Neil was to feature retail and office space, 50 condominiums, and, at one point, a trading floor about which Sokolski was quoted in the Chicago Daily Herald as saying, "It's not quite Times Square, but this is our bright, shiny downtown."[8] The project was expected to be complete in late 2008, but experienced significant delays in construction. As of the end of 2009, it is yet to be completed, partially due to a large fire on an adjacent property that caused substantial facade damage to M2. New condo owners did begin moving into M2 in April 2009, and 7 of 51 have sold. 25,000 (of a total 100,000) square feet of office space is complete and occupied as of July 2009. The first ground-floor tenant, a local banking branch, opened its doors in November 2009.[9] As of December 2009, the remaining three stories of office/retail space still await tenants. The City of Champaign has constructed a six-story parking structure on Hill Street adjacent to M2, intended to service the greater Downtown; it was completed in May 2009.[10]

For more information on Downtown Champaign visit the Champaign Downtown Association's website [2].

The Art Theater

The Art Theater, which shows critically-acclaimed independent and foreign films, was built in 1913 as the Park Theatre. It has since undergone several changes in name and repertoire, including a phase from 1969 to 1986, in which it showed adult films.[11] The theater is the only single-screen movie theater still in existence operating daily as a movie theater in Champaign-Urbana.

Historic Virginia Theatre

The Historic Virginia Theatre is a recently-restored 1525-seat movie theater, dating back to the 1920s. It has an ornate, Spanish Renaissance-influenced interior, full stage and dressing rooms, and an elaborate Wurlitzer pipe organ. It hosts Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival [3] and has a single 56' x 23' screen. The theater does not have a daily show schedule, but schedules special screenings and live performances several times each month.


Green Street.

Located along Green Street, this commercial district serves as the entertainment and retail center for students at the University of Illinois. This area has been undergoing great change since 2002 with the completion of a new $7 million streetscape project. Campustown is now attracting new retail and entertainment stores as well as serving as the center for new construction projects. Several new projects opened in 2008 including the 18-story Burnham310 high-rise and grocery store at 4th and Springfield, and a new 24-story apartment building called 309Green.


There are 58 parks within the city of Champaign, totaling over 552 acres (2 km²) of parkland.[12]


Champaign is served by I-57, I-72, I-74, two railroad lines, and the University of Illinois operated Willard Airport (CMI). The local bus system, which is supported by the taxpayers of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) and the University of Illinois, serves Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and surrounding areas. The C-U MTD has twice been named as the best local transit system in the United States.[citation needed]

The former Illinois Central Railroad line — now part of the Canadian National system — runs north to south through the city. A spur line from the Canadian National line provides service to several large industries, including two large food processing plants, on the west edge of Champaign and two grain elevators in outlying communities to the west. The Norfolk Southern operates an east to west line through Champaign. The NS line connects industries in eastern Urbana to the Norfolk Southern main line at Mansfield, Illinois, west of Champaign. The line now operated by Norfolk Southern is the former Peoria & Eastern Railway, later operated as part of the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway), New York Central, Penn Central, and Conrail systems, being sold by Conrail to Norfolk Southern in 1996. Construction of the line was begun by the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad. This short-lived entity became part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway before the railroad was completed.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Champaign-Urbana. Amtrak Train 59, the southbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Champaign at 10:34 p.m. daily with service to Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Carbondale, Fulton, Newbern-Dyersburg, Memphis, Greenwood, Yazoo City, Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb, Hammond, and New Orleans. Amtrak Train 58, the northbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Champaign at 6:10am daily with service to Kankakee, Homewood, and Chicago. Champaign-Urbana is also served by Amtrak Train 390/391, the Saluki, daily in the morning, and Amtrak Train 392/393, the Illini, daily in the afternoon/evening. Both the Saluki and the Illini operate between Chicago and Carbondale.

Greyhound Lines and Lex Lincolnland Express bus companies provide intercity bus service to Champaign.[13] In 1999, a newly designed intermodal transportation center, aptly named Illinois Terminal by historic reference to the defunct electric interurban rail line that once ran through Champaign, was completed and serves as a central facility for intercity passenger rail and bus services as well as the MTD's local bus network. The terminal has within the last year experienced a 51% increase in passenger traffic.[citation needed]


FM Radio

AM Radio

Analog Television

Digital Television (DTV)

  • 9 WILL-DT, PBS
  • 18 WAND-DT, NBC
  • 22 WBUI-DT, CW
  • 26 WCCU-DT, Fox
  • 41 WICD-DT, ABC
  • 48 WCIA-DT, CBS
  • 50 WEIU-DT, PBS


Notable people from Champaign

Points of interest


External links


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