Granite City, Illinois: Wikis

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City of Granite City
City
A house in Granite City.
Country United States
State Illinois
County Madison
Elevation 420 ft (128 m)
Coordinates 38°43′04″N 90°07′46″W / 38.71778°N 90.12944°W / 38.71778; -90.12944
Area 17.2 sq mi (44.5 km2)
 - land 16.7 sq mi (43 km2)
 - water 0.5 sq mi (1 km2), 2.91%
Population 31,301 (2000)
Density 1,876.2 /sq mi (724.4 /km2)
Founded 1896
Mayor Ed Hagnauer
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62040
Area code 618
Location of Granite City within Illinois
U.S. Census map
Website: http://www.granitecity.com/

Granite City is a city in Madison County, Illinois, United States, part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. At the 2000 census, the population was 31,301, with a total of about 67,000 in the immediate area. Officially founded in 1896, Granite City was named by the Niedringhaus brothers who established it as a steel making company town for the manufacture of kitchen utensils made to look like granite. Granite City is often simply called "Granite."

Contents

History

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Six Mile

The area was settled much earlier than Granite City's official founding. In the early 1800s, settlers began to farm the rich fertile grounds to the east of St. Louis. The 1830s saw the establishment of Six Mile, a farming area that occupied the area of present-day Granite City, six miles (10 km) from St. Louis. Soon after, the national road was constructed through the area and by 1865, the first railroad was built.

Granite ware

Granite City was founded in 1896 to be a planned company city similar to Pullman, Illinois, by German immigrant brothers Frederick G. and William Niedringhaus for their Granite ware kitchen supplies factory.

Since 1866, the brothers had been operating the St. Louis Stamping Company, an iron works company, that made kitchen utensils in St. Louis, Missouri. In the 1870s, William discovered an enamelware process in Europe whereby metal utensils could be coated with enamel to make them lighter and more resistant to oxidation. At the time most enamelware was usually just one color as the additions of any colors to the process was inefficient. On June 1, 1878, William applied for Patent 207543 to improve the efficiency whereby a pattern could be applied to enamelware while the enamel was still wet simply by placing a thin piece of paper with an oxidized pattern on top of it. The paper would fall off in the drying process and the pattern was embedded. The brothers' pattern made the utensils resemble granite. [1] The resulting product was enormously popular.

The brothers opened the Granite Iron Rolling Mills in St. Louis to provide tin (imported from Wales) to its prospering kitchen supplies manufacturer. The imported tin had a $22 per ton tariff.

Frederick ran for Congress in Missouri 1888. During his one term he successfully urged the passage of a new tariff of 50 percent of value on imported iron and tin.[2] With the increased tariff the U.S. steel industry (including their iron plant) took off.

As they planned expansion of their Bessemer process steel works, they were blocked by the city of St. Louis which did not want the expansion. As well, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis planned to tax coal crossing the Mississippi River into Missouri.[2]

Company town

In 1891, the brothers bought 3,500 acres (14 km2) from the Mississippi River across the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad tracks for their new Granite City.

With the help of the St. Louis City Engineer, a street grid was laid out with streets listed in alphabetic order plus numbered streets, and the only exception being Niedringhaus Avenue.

The Niedringhaus family required that its employees live in the town. Houses were purchased with Niedinghaus mortgages. Unlike Pullman, however, they did not exert major control over the day-to-day lives of their employees and left the government of the city up to the residents.[2]

African-Americans were not allowed in the community and instead congregated in Brooklyn, Illinois.[2]

The plant would later grow to occupy 1,250,000 square feet (116,000 m2) and employ more than 4,000 people. The plant prospered until the 1950s when aluminum, stainless steel, and pyrex replaced iron-based utensils.

The granite pattern in kitchen utensils, particularly in roasting pans, remains very popular.

Recent History

As of 2008, several large manufacturing corporations operate in the city, including U.S. Steel, Precoat Metals, Tower Automotive, Capri-Sun, Kraft Foods, Heidtman Steel, ADM Packaged Oils, Prairie Farms, and American Steel.

On 3 November 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by Representative Melvin Price, gave a 23-minute campaign speech on the Granite City High School front lawn.

Geography

Granite City is located at 38°43′4″N 90°7′46″W / 38.71778°N 90.12944°W / 38.71778; -90.12944 (38.717849, -90.129529),[3] adjacent to the Chain of Rocks Canal on the Upper Mississippi River, bordering Horseshoe Lake on its southeastern side. The city sits in the American Bottom, a wide, flat and fertile plain. Although at risk during the Great Flood of 1993, the city never flooded and is protected by a series of levees along both the Mississippi River and Chain of Rocks Canal.

Granite City is located within a few miles of five interstate highways. Interstate 270 passes through the northern edge of the city and Interstates 255, 70, 55, and 64 all pass just to the south and east of the city.

Route 3 is a major thoroughfare along the western edge of the city and provides quick access to downtown St. Louis across the recently renovated McKinley Bridge.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.2 square miles (44.5 km²), of which, 16.7 square miles (43.2 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km²) of it (2.85%) is water.

Cityscape

Granite City can be divided into eight areas: Downtown, East Granite, West Granite, North Granite, Nameoki strip, Community Heights, Bellemore area and the Wilson Park area. Most retailers and dining facilities are located on the Nameoki Strip, surrounding Nameoki Road.

The Wilson park area is home to the recently renovated Coolidge Middle School, Niedringhaus Elementary School, and Granite City High School as well as the city's crown jewel, Wilson Park. Wilson Park is sometimes called the "heart" of Granite City and is known for its nicely kept "turn of the century" homes.

East Granite is less defined, but is mostly modern residential subdivisions as well as both St. Elizabeth and Holy Family Catholic Schools. East Granite is north of the blast furnace at US Steel. US Steel's complex was formerly known as the Granite City Steel Co.

City Hall, Downtown Granite City

Downtown is at the southwestern part of the city and is home to much of the city's industry, including the Granite City Steel Works. Downtown Granite suffered a downturn in the 1970s, which vacated much of its commercial buildings and in turn, urban decay began. More recently, there have been revitalization efforts to revive the downtown area, although they are still in their early stages. These efforts are modeled on nearby cities such as Belleville, IL, Edwardsville, IL, and St. Charles, MO. Revitalization efforts include installing tree-filled medians on Niedringhaus Avenue, repaving streets, granting tax incentives, and new zoning restrictions. There is also an effort to build a new cinema. Property preparation and design work has been completed on the cinema project.

West Granite is located west of downtown across the railroad lines. West Granite contains both industrial and lower income residential areas and has been struggling to fight its above average crime rate. Lincoln Place (which in 1907, was named Hungry Hollow) became inhabited by about 10,000 immigrants from Macedonia, Hungary, Mexico and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe. In 1910, many Armenian immigrants migrated to Hungry Hollow.

Dining, shopping, & attractions

Most dining and shopping establishments in Granite City are located along Nameoki Road, Madison Avenue, and Johnson Road.

Popular dining establishments include Applebees, El Torerro, Apple Tree Family Restaurant, Vin Hoa, Imo's Pizza, Jerry's Cafeteria, Pizza World, and Ravanelli's Restaurant. The city also has several fast food chains such as McDonald's, Jack-in-the-box, and Arby's.

Over the last couple of years several retailers have moved into the city. Fashion stores, sports stores, and electronics retailers can be found throughout the new Nameoki Commons complex. Wal*Mart, K-Mart, and Big Lots are the three largest retailers in town, however a Lowe's is set to be completed in 2009. A number of grocery stores including Schnucks, Shop N' Save, Save-A-Lot, Farm Fresh, Cionko's Meat Market, Aldi's and the Farmer's Market are located within the city.

For racing fans, there is the Tri-City Speedway, one of the area's dirt tracks. Formerly known for its 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile, it was recently renovated in 2007 as a 3/8 mile dirt oval with 10 degrees of banking in the corners. Former Nascar legend Rusty Wallace, his brothers Mike and Kenny, and Kenny Shrader and Tony Stewart, are some of the NASCAR drivers who have raced there. The Gateway International Raceway, capacity 60,000, located just south of the city contains a 1.25-mile (2.01 km) oval track, drag strip, and an infield roadcourse. Gateway International Raceway annually hosts the Busch Series and Craftsmen Truck Series races.

Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler's world class training facility is located on the old Melvin Price Army Depot. The facility is called the HIT Squad (www.thehitsquad.com). It was established February 9, 2008. It has already produced UFC veterans, Brian Foster, Matt Veach, and Jon Madsen. Combatants from all over the world come to the facility and train under Hughes, Lawler, and Marc Fiore. The General Manager is Todd Laux.

Events, parades, and traditions

The Granite City Park District has "Movies Under the Stars" which is a movie series shown at Wilson Park. Movies will run on Fridays May 11; June 15; and August 10. Movies are shown in the outfield of Sykes Field and are free to the public.

The Granite City Park District also hosts Big Band Concerts at Wilson Park in the Centennial Pavilion beginning at 7:30 pm on the following Thursday nights; May 24; June 7 & 21; July 12 & 26; and August 9. Concerts are free to the public.

The Patriots in the Park 4th of July celebration is a weekend long event, including food, live entertainment, rides and it ends with a fireworks display. For more information on this or any of the above events go to the Granite City Park District website or phone 618-877-3059.

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church hosts an annual carnival during the first week of June. There is food, live music and carnival rides. Parking and the live music is free. Contact St. Elizabeth Church at 618-877-3300 2300 Pontoon Rd Granite City, IL. 62040

Holy Family Catholic Church no longer hosts an annual carnival/festival, but does host seasonal ethnic dinners, including a Mexican Dinner (Sabor de Mexico / Taste of Mexico), an Italian Dinner, and a Chicken Dinner. Contact Holy Family church at 618-452-8244 2606 Washington Ave. Granite City, IL. 62040 or online (Holy Family Catholic Church).

The Mexican Honorary Commission (MHC) has an annual Heritage Festival in historic Lincoln Place. They also host a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta celebration and a September Fiesta celebration. Both events include authentic, home made Mexican food, live performances by the MHC dancers, and a live Mexican band. For more information call 618-877-4995.

There are several parades in Granite City including: The Baseball parade which features all the teams that play ball for the Granite City Park District. Contact the Granite City Park District for the date.

The Labor Day parade represents the local unions. This parade is always on Labor Day at 10 am.

Santa's Holiday Avenue parade is held the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Santa's Cabin welcomes children of all ages. Pets can also visit Santa at this cabin which opens immediately following the Santa's Holiday Avenue Parade, which is held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. In 1995, the cabin was in severe disrepair when the Santa's Holiday Avenue Committee, chaired by City Clerk Judy Whitaker, worked to remodeled it. The cabin is run by volunteers.

Recreation

27th Street Parkway & Fitness Path

The Granite City Park District owns 13 parks. Wilson Park is the most notable. A 1.4-mile (2.3 km) paved trail encircles the 74-acre (300,000 m2) park which contains a pool, ice rink, park office, skate park, food and beverage stand ,tennis courts, several pavilions, baseball fields, and a wedding area. The Park District offers baseball, flag football, tennis, soccer, basketball, and hockey programs for the youth.

Every summer around July 4, Wilson Park hosts the Patriots in the Park program. The program includes live entertainment, carriage rides, carnival rides, food & beverage stands, and the second largest fireworks display in the St. Louis area.

Madison County Transit provides an outstanding 85-mile (137 km) network of newly paved, well maintained bikeways throughout the county as well as Granite City. For more information, go to http://www.mcttrails.org

The new YMCA, part of the River's Edge Development was recently completed. The complex includes aquatics programs, a youth center, weightlifting, batting cages, basketball/tennis courts, and a child care center.

For those who golf, there are three golf courses near Granite City. The Legacy Golf Course and the Arlington Golf Course both offer eighteen hole championship courses. Another nearby course is River's Edge located at the army depot off Route 3.

Horseshoe Lake State Park wraps around Horseshoe Lake, a 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) natural lake, the largest lake in the St. Louis area. The park provides a wonderful place for picnicking, cycling, fishing, wildlife viewing, and small boating. Hunting is allowed during hunting season and a small primitive campground is located on Walker's Island.

Education

Granite City Community District #9 enrolls 7100 students from throughout the Granite City area. The District operates seven elementary schools (Mitchell, Niedringhaus, Wilson, Worthen, Frohardt, Prather, and Maryville), two middle schools (Grigsby and Coolidge), and one high school (Granite City High School (GCHS)) and the Granite City Early Childhood Center. Recently the high school underwent a 14 million dollar renovation. The district is notable for its wide array of sports, clubs, and technical programs that students may participate in cost free. Recently the track, baseball field, and high school gymnasium were renovated. The High School has achieved a 96.3% graduation rate, nearly ten percent higher than the Illinois state average.

Two private Catholic K-8 schools are located in the city, Holy Family and St. Elizabeth.

The Southwestern Illinois College Campus (SWIC) is located at the northern end of the city. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville(SIUE) is located just miles away.

Demographics

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 31,301 people, 12,773 households, and 8,455 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,876.2 people per square mile (724.5/km²). There were 14,022 housing units at an average density of 840.5/sq mi (324.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.73% White, 1.99% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 1.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.86% of the population.

There were 12,773 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,615, and the median income for a family was $42,130. Males had a median income of $34,226 versus $23,510 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,691. About 8.8% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

  • Kelly Corday, St. Louis Radio Personality, KYKY Y98
  • Ruben Mendoza, the Father of Granite City Soccer. 2 time US Olympian , 2 time US World Cup Team member (soccer).
  • Tyler Simpson, mixed martial arts fighter and world extreme cagefighter founder.
  • Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer
  • Owen Friend, former MLB Player
  • Chris Rongey, Chicago Radio Personality WSCR Pre-Game Host of Chicago White Sox Radio Telecasts
  • Andrew Goodpaster, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and Four Star U.S. Army General
  • Kevin Greene, former NFL Linebacker
  • Matt Hughes, former UFC Welterweight Champion
  • Robbie Lawler, former Elite XC Middleweight champion
  • Dal Maxvill, former MLB Shortstop, Gold Glove winner, and Cardinals General Manager
  • Ralph T. Smith, former U.S. Senator
  • Flip Spiceland, weather personality
  • Clinton Van Zandt, TV personality, former FBI negotiator
  • Jack Willman Sr., creator of the Taurus monster truck. His son Jack Willman Jr. drove the truck to the 1991 USHRA Camel Mud and Monster Series title.

Peter Maer, award-winning CBS News White House Correspondent. Graduate of Granite City Senior High and Southern Illinois University,Edwardsville

References

  • Granite City, A Pictorial History, 1896-1996. Granite City, Ill.: G. Bradley Publishing, 1995.

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