Effingham is a city in and the county seat of Effingham County, Illinois, United States. Effingham is in Southern Illinois. Its population was 12,627 at the 2018 census estimate. The city is part of the Effingham, IL Micropolitan Statistical Area. Effingham is home to a 198 foot tall cross, The Cross at the Crossroads. The cross is the tallest cross in the United States.
"Crossroads of Opportunity"
Location of Effingham in Effingham County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
|Coordinates: 39°7′15″N 88°32′45″W|
|• Total||10.02 sq mi (25.94 km2)|
|• Land||9.95 sq mi (25.78 km2)|
|• Water||0.06 sq mi (0.16 km2)|
|Elevation||590 ft (180 m)|
|• Density||1,271.35/sq mi (490.88/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Area code(s)||217 Exchanges: 342,347,540|
|Wikimedia Commons||Effingham, Illinois|
The city bills itself as "The Crossroads of Opportunity" because of its location at the intersection of two major Interstate highways: I-57 running from Chicago to Miner, Missouri, and I-70 running from Utah to Maryland. It is also served by U.S. Route 45, which runs from Ontonagon, Michigan to Mobile, Alabama, U.S. Route 40, the historic National Road, which stretches from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Summit, Utah, and Illinois routes 32 and 33 also run through the city. It is also a major railroad junction, the crossing of the Illinois Central main line from Chicago to Memphis with the Pennsylvania Railroad line from Indianapolis to St. Louis. Thus, Effingham has a broad range of restaurants, and lodging facilities.
Effingham is the home of the Effingham Flaming Hearts and the St. Anthony Bulldogs.
Effingham is located at 39°7′15″N 88°32′45″W (39.120903, −88.545909).
According to the 2010 census, Effingham has a total area of 9.921 square miles (25.70 km2), of which 9.86 square miles (25.54 km2) (or 99.39%) is land and 0.061 square miles (0.16 km2) (or 0.61%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 12,384 people, 5,330 households, and 3,187 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,428.9 people per square mile (551.5/km²). There were 5,660 housing units at an average density of 653.0 per square mile (252.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.31% White, 3.8% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.38% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.04% of the population.
There were 5,330 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,761, and the median income for a family was $45,902. Males had a median income of $31,442 versus $21,543 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,132. About 6.5% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
Effingham was first settled in 1814, and was known from then until 1859 as Broughton. That year, 1859, it became the county seat with buildings relocated from nearby (now deserted) Ewington. The community was named after General E. Effingham, a local surveyor. In the late 1880s, local citizens founded Austin College, which lasted for several decades, and ultimately was purchased to become the Illinois College of Photography, also known as Bissel College. That school closed due to the Great Depression in the 1930s.
On April 4, 1949, St. Anthony's hospital caught fire and burned to the ground, killing 74 people. As a result, fire codes nationwide were improved. Due to extensive media coverage, including a "Life Magazine" cover story, donations for rebuilding the hospital came from all 48 states and several foreign countries.
Effingham was a sundown town; daytime segregation was enforced until at least the mid-1960s.
Effingham is also historically important as a rail junction. The old Pennsylvania Railroad and the former Illinois Central Railroad crossed in downtown Effingham. Even today, Amtrak's City of New Orleans passes through daily.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Effingham under the daily City of New Orleans route to New Orleans and Chicago, Saluki, and Illini routes to Chicago and Carbondale. Until October 1, 1979, the station also served Amtrak's former National Limited line between Kansas City and New York City.
Effingham has several schools, both public and private. The private schools are both religiously affiliated and include Saint Anthony and Sacred Heart. Saint Anthony Grade School (SAGS) serves grades preschool (age 3+) to eighth grade. SAGS has the Bullpups as its mascot. Sacred Heart Grade School (SHS) serves preschool (age 3+) to eighth grade. SHS's mascot is the Shamrocks. The public schools include the Early Learning Center, South Side Elementary, Central Grade School, Effingham Junior High School (EJHS), and Effingham High School. The Early Learning Center serves preschool and kindergarten age children. South Side Elementary serves first and second graders. Aspire, which is a school for students who are likely to drop out or those who get expelled. Central Grade School serves third through fifth grade students. Central Grade school's mascot is the mustangs. EJHS serves junior high students in grades six to eight. EJHS's mascot is the Mustangs.
Effingham High School (EHS) is the public high school. The new EHS opened in the fall of 1998, and has a current enrollment of 849. The former EHS building, built in 1939 as a WPA project (film made as of the construction) and expanded in 1965, is currently the junior high, serving grades 6–8. The old junior high, Central School, is now a grade school serving grades 3–5. EHS athletics were originally known as the "Warriors" but the name was changed after Ada Kepley, a city resident, referred to Effingham as the "Heart of America" in a campaign to attract visitors to the city. The name stuck, with references in the city government and the downtown movie theater named "The Heart Theater." EHS athletics are now known as the "Flaming Hearts".
Effingham is also home to St. Anthony High School, a private Roman Catholic High School. SAHS athletics are known as the "Bulldogs".
SHS athletics and extra-curricular activities currently consist of boys' baseball, girls' softball, girls' basketball (grades 4-8), boys' basketball (grades 4-8), girls' track (grades 5-8), boys' track (grades 5-8), girls' cross country (grade 5-8), boys' cross country (grades 5-8), volleyball, cheerleading, band (grades 5-8), chorus (grades 5-8), musicals, plays, student council, and scholar bowl.
SAGS athletics and extra-curricular activities currently consist of boys' baseball, girls' softball, girls' track, boys' track, girls' cross country, boys' cross country, volleyball (grades 7-8), girls' basketball (grades 6-8), boys' basketball (grades 6-8), cheerleading, student council, scholastic bowl, spring musical, art club, eco-meet, and bridge club.
SAHS athletics and extra-curricular activities currently consist of soccer, boys' golf, girls' golf, girls' volleyball, girls' tennis, girls' and boys' cross country, boys' fall baseball, boys' basketball, girls' basketball, cheerleading, wrestling, bellettes (dance), swimming, boys' tennis, spring baseball, girls' track, boys' track, softball, bass fishing, National Honor Society, WYSE (world youth in science and engineering), Society for Academic Achievement (SAA), scholar bowl, Spanish club, band, chorus, fall musical, spring play, drama club, book club, chemistry club, Spanish scholar bowl, and pep club.
EJHS athletics and extra-curricular activities currently consist of baseball, soccer, cross country, tennis, golf, cheerleading, football, volleyball, basketball, swimming, chorus, band, theatre, and scholar bowl.
EHS athletics and extra-curricular activities currently consist of boys' baseball, coed soccer, cross country, girls' and boys' tennis, boys' and girls' golf, coed wrestling, basketball cheerleading, girls' track, boys' track, football cheerleading, competition cheerleading, football, girls' softball, volleyball, girls' and boys' basketball, girls' and boys' swimming, chorus, band, marching band, theatre, student council, dance, WYSE, National Honor Society, Society for Academic Achievement (SAA), color guard, FACS club, math club, Young Heart Riding club, chemistry club, Spanish club, French club, book club, pep club, and scholar bowl.
A 198-foot (60 m) steel cross erected by The Cross Foundation is located in Effingham. The Cross is made out of over 180 tons of steel and cost over $1 million. The Cross Foundation claims that the cross is the "largest" in the United States standing at 198-foot (60 m) with a span of 113-foot (34 m). While the 208-foot (63 m) Great Cross in St. Augustine, Florida is believed to be the tallest freestanding cross in the western hemisphere, it is thinner than the cross in Effingham and has a narrow span..
One resident complained that using a Christian symbol to attract tourism "reeks of avarice and hypocrisy." Another pointed out that the money that built the cross, which was collected through private donations, could have fed the poor and done other good for the community that wasn't simply "over-the-top symbolism." Philip Coats of the Cross Foundation said there was barely a ripple of criticism in the town. John Schultz, the donor who put up most of the money for the project, said, "I guess you can't satisfy everybody."
- George J. Bauer, Illinois state representative
- Jack Berch, singer and radio personality; raised in Effingham
- Uwe Blab, center for the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and San Antonio Spurs; attended high school in Effingham
- Charles H. Constable, judge and Illinois state senator; died in Effingham
- Nick Gardewine, pitcher for the Texas Rangers, graduate of Effingham High School
- Chad Green (pitcher), pitcher for the New York Yankees, graduate of Effingham High School
- Ada Kepley, first American woman to graduate from law school
- Jimmy Kite, driver with IndyCar and NASCAR
- Miles E. Mills, Illinois politician
- Brian Shouse, left-handed pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers in Major League Baseball
- Daniel Winkler (baseball), pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, born and raised in Effingham, attended St. Anthony High School
- Benson Wood, U.S. Congressman, 1895–1897
In popular culture
Comedians and authors have poked fun at the "Effing" portion of the name Effingham and its use in American and UK slang as a minced oath for the "F" word. For example, radio comedians Bob and Tom produced a segment on their national radio show. Ben Folds's album Way to Normal uses a similar play on words in a track that was inspired while driving by Effingham, although the song refers to the city as "Effington."
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- History of Effingham Archived July 28, 2012, at Archive.today
- Illinois Central Magazine. Illinois Central Railroad Company. 1922. p. 46.
- Perkins, Kevin. "Austin College". www.frontiernet.net. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Life Magazine Article, April 18, 1949
- Inc, Time (April 18, 1949). LIFE. Time Inc.
- Loewen, James W. (July 9, 2006). "Honda's All-American Sundown Town". History News Network. The George Washington University. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Loewen, James W. (September 29, 2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension Of American Racism. The New Press. p. 231. ISBN 1595586741.
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- "EFFINGHAM HIGH SCHOOL". Illinois Report Card. Illinois State Board of Education. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
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- "World's Largest Cross FAQ". worldslargestthings.com. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
- Gregory, Ted. "Landmark speaks volumes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
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- "Daniel Winkler Register Statistics & History | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- "Eff". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
- The Effing House Family Restaurant, retrieved September 19, 2017
- Charlie Amter (October 21, 2008). "Small town Mayor to Ben Folds: We will bury you". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
- Effingham's official website
- Effingham convention and visitor's bureau
- Visit Effingham
- Effingham High School Band Website
- Genealogy Trails – Effingham, IL
- Effingham's Online Community
- 360 Degree Panorama of The Cross At The Crossroads
- Effingham City County Ambulance
- Effingham, IL St. Anthony's Hospital Fire, Apr 1949 article at GenDisasters.com