|— City —|
|• Mayor||Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush|
|• Total||7.31 sq mi (18.9 km2)|
|• Land||7.18 sq mi (18.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.12 sq mi (0.3 km2) 1.64%|
|• Density||5,100/sq mi (2,000/km2)|
|Down -5.2% from 2010|
|Standard of living|
|• Per capita income||$18,123 (median: $34,042)|
|• Home value||$98,652 (2010) (median: $89,300)|
Calumet City (commonly referred to locally as "Cal City") was founded in 1892 when the villages of Schrumville and Sobieski Park merged under the name of West Hammond, since it lies on the west side of the Illinois-Indiana border from Hammond, Indiana. In 1924, West Hammond officially changed its name to Calumet City.
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When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, patriotic fervor led to many young men enlisting in the armed forces, and nowhere was that patriotism greater than in West Hammond, which saw a larger percentage of its population, per capita, enlist than any other community in the nation. Even many members of the town's sizable German population signed up for the military to fight the Central Powers. A bronze plaque bearing the names of every citizen who served in the war was dedicated at West Hammond's Memorial Park in 1922.
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With the onset of prohibition in 1919, West Hammond/Calumet City quickly became known for something other than its patriotism. Bootleggers found local officials and police willing to turn a blind eye, and the town became a magnet for speakeasies, gambling, and prostitution. A multitude of illegal nightclubs sprang up throughout the town, and were particularly concentrated on a stretch of State Street that quickly became known regionally and, eventually, nationally as "The Strip," just as Calumet City was dubbed the original American "Sin City." With the repeal of the Volstead Act and the return of legal liquor in 1933, Calumet City's speakeasies converted into lawful nightclubs, many of them owned or influenced by organized crime elements from Chicago (including Al Capone, who owned a "getaway" home in Calumet City). Clubs, saloons and taverns continued to prosper in Calumet City, and a new record was set when it was determined that the town had more liquor licenses per capita than any other community in the nation. Many of the clubs featured Las Vegas-style showgirl revues, as well as such marquee talent as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Keith Speaks, and Gypsy Rose Lee. Life magazine dubbed the town the "Barbary Coast of the Midwest".
By the 1960s, shadier elements had moved in to control the town's bars, gambling, narcotics and prostitution rings when the federal government began cracking down on the large crime families, breaking up their illicit holdings and sending mob bosses to prison. In the following decades, Calumet City's Strip was no longer seen as a sort of "Northern Las Vegas," but instead was infamous as a place to acquire drugs and prostitutes, and as home to a string of seedy bars that were a shadow of the nightclubs that had once reigned there.
In the 1980s and after, reformist efforts succeeded in closing down many of Calumet City's bars, and the State Street Strip today is essentially an industrial park.
A notable landmark and point of pride among Cal City residents is their two large water towers painted like the popular "Have a Nice Day" smiley faces: The Smiley Towers (external link) The following history of the Smiley Towers was found in the 1995 Calumet City Community Guide:
Calumet City is located at .(41.614188, -87.546389)
According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 7.31 square miles (18.9 km2), of which 7.18 square miles (18.6 km2) (or 98.22%) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.31 km2) (or 1.64%) is water.
As of the 2000 census, there were 39,071 people, 15,139 households, and 10,006 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,378.0 people per square mile (2,077.9/km²). There were 15,947 housing units at an average density of 2,195.1 per square mile (848.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.74% White, 52.91% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.37% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.86% of the population, including 9.4% of Mexican descent.
There were 15,139 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, 22.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city, the age distribution of the population was 28.7% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,902, and the median income for a family was $45,998. Males had a median income of $37,231 versus $30,555 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,123. About 9.8% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.
Calumet City is in Illinois' 2nd congressional district.
Calumet City is featured or mentioned in a number of major movies. John Belushi's "Joliet Jake" character from The Blues Brothers was born in Calumet City, and the orphanage that they save through donating the money from their concert is also located in Calumet City as well as "Ray's Music Exchange" that holds the famed Ray Charles "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene of the movie, which was a tribute to Calumet City's Hegewisch Records Store. In the book and film The Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill is thought to be hiding in Calumet City, when he is actually in Belvedere, Ohio (However, the Calumet City scenes in the film were filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Lily Tomlin's prim but assertive housewife/spokesperson "Mrs. Judith Beasley" is said to be a resident of Calumet City. ("Hi. I am not an actress, but a real person like yourself.")
Calumet City is also referenced by a number of popular music acts. The Black Crowes included a video of the Smiley Towers in their 1990 video for "Hard to Handle". A photograph of the "Dolton" smiley water tower is featured on the back of the Dead Kennedys album Plastic Surgery Disasters. Rapper Twista has referenced Calumet City. However, Kanye West's reference to Calumet in his 2005 song "Drive Slow", does not refer to Calumet City, but rather Calumet High School, which is located on the South side of Chicago and not in Calumet City.
The Smiley Tower is also featured in the movie Natural Born Killers; it is seen out the window of Mallorys' family home (part of that movie was filmed in Hammond, Indiana). In the Nine Inch Nails music video on the director's cut of the same film, the Smiley Tower and Dolton Avenue/State Street is featured.
In 2004, Alan Keyes purchased a raised ranch house in Calumet City to establish residency in Illinois so he could run for the U.S. Senate in place of Jack Ryan against Barack Obama, although instead of residing in the house, he officially moved into an apartment elsewhere in town, on Garfield Avenue.
In 2010, Pop music group Hanson remade the "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene of the movie "The Blues Brothers" for their music video for their hit "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'" In Tulsa, Oklahoma paying homage to Calumet City's Ray's Music Exchange, John Belushi, & Ray Charles.
Calumet City is served by several elementary school districts :
The city is served by two high school districts:
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