Kankakee, Illinois

Kankakee /ˌkæŋkəˈk/ is a city in and the county seat of Kankakee County, Illinois, United States.[5] The city's name is probably derived from the Miami-Illinois word teeyaahkiki, meaning: "Open country/exposed land/land in open/land exposed to view",[6][7][8][9][10][11] in reference to the area's prior status as a marsh. As of 2017, the city's population was 26,216. Kankakee is a principal city of the Kankakee-Bourbonnais-Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Kankakee, Illinois

City of Kankakee
Location of Kankakee in Illinois
Coordinates: 41°7′12″N 87°51′40″W
CountryUnited States
State Illinois
Incorporated (city)1865
  MayorChasity Wells Armstrong (D)
  City Council14 aldermen
  Total15.49 sq mi (40.11 km2)
  Land15.01 sq mi (38.87 km2)
  Water0.48 sq mi (1.24 km2)
Elevation656 ft (200 m)
  Density1,762.18/sq mi (680.38/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area codes815, 779
FIPS code17-38934[2]
GNIS feature ID411300[2]


The area of Kankakee was inhabited by the Potawatami beginning sometime in the 18th century. Kankakee was founded in 1854.[12]


Kankakee is located at 41°7′12″N 87°51′36″W (41.12, −87.86).[13]

According to the 2010 census, Kankakee has a total area of 14.62 square miles (37.87 km2), of which 14.14 square miles (36.62 km2) (or 96.72%) is land and 0.48 square miles (1.24 km2) (or 3.28%) is water.[14]


Historical population
Est. 201826,052[4]−5.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 27,561 people, 10,020 households and 6,272 families residing within the city. The population density was 2,239.8 people per square mile (865.1/km²). There were 10,965 housing units at an average density of 893.4 per square mile (345.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.92% White, 41.07% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 5.50% from other races, and 1.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.25% of the population.

There were 10,020 households, out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 21.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60, and the average family size was 3.28.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 29.5% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,469, and the median income for a family was $36,428. Males had a median income of $30,894 versus $22,928 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,479. About 18.1% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.3% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


Kankakee is governed by the mayor council system. The city council consists of fourteen members who are elected from seven wards (two per ward). The mayor and city clerk are elected in a citywide vote. Library service is provided by the Kankakee Public Library.



Kankakee is served by the Greater Kankakee Airport, a general aviation facility located in the southern portion of Kankakee.[17]

The Kankakee Valley Airport Authority was formed in 1957. The location of the airport was chosen South of Kankakee in 1959. The Greater Kankakee Airport has been officially serving the Kankakee community since 1962. It is located 50 miles south of downtown Chicago and 70 miles north of Champaign, directly along Interstate 57 at the 308 exit. In 1966 the main runway was expanded, successfully attracting a commercial carrier. Air Wisconsin, Inc. began operating in 1967. Due to the commercial operations the Airport was able to build the terminal building in 1968, which is still standing today. The airport continues to serve the community though general aviation and is home to over 100 private hangars housing helicopter, singe engine aircraft, ultralights, and turbine powered aircraft.

The Greater Kankakee Airport made its Hollywood debut in the 1980 Steve McQueen movie "The Hunter," in which Ralph "Papa" Thorson comes to pick up the Trans Am at the airfield.

The Greater Kankakee Airport has received recognition over the years for its outstanding service to Kankakee County. The airport has been awarded the General Aviation – Publicly Owned Airport of the year award by the Illinois Division of Aeronautics in 2001 and 2012.

In September 2013 the Army National Guard broke ground on the Army Aviation Support Facility, which was completed in 2017. The facility houses 13 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

Greater Kankakee Airport covers an area of 950 acres (380 ha) (384 ha) at an elevation of 629 feet (192 m) above mean sea level. It has two runways with asphalt surfaces: 4/22 is 5,981 by 100 feet (1,823 x 30 m) and 16/34 is 4,398 by 75 feet (1,341 x 23 m).


Amtrak provides service to Kankakee from the Kankakee Amtrak Station.[18] Amtrak operates the City of New Orleans, the Illini, and the Saluki with each train running once daily in both directions.[19]


Interstate 57 runs east-west in the southern part of the city and turns north-south in the eastern part of Kankakee. United States Highways US 45 and US 52 run concurrently forming, along with Illinois Route IL 50, the major north-south thoroughfares through Kankakee. Illinois Route IL 17 is the major east-west road that bisects the city.

Public transportation

The River Valley Metro Mass Transit District (RVMMTD; River Valley Metro or METRO, for short) operates the region's transit bus system. Service runs seven days a week to locations in Kankakee as well as the nearby cities of Aroma Park, Bradley, Bourbonnais, and Manteno. All of the Kankakee routes are stationed out of the Chestnut & North Schuyler Transfer Station.[20] River Valley Metro operates 12 fixed-regular bus routes and 2 commuter routes. The Midway and University Park commuter routes were added January 5, 2014, and in August 2015 River Valley Metro added a second Midway route to its schedule. In January 2016, a second University Park route was added.

Kankakee Valley Park District

Kankakee Valley Park District has 37 parks, comprising a total of 600 acres (2.4 km2). Facilities include an outdoor aquatic park named Splash Valley (facility has been closed since 2016), indoor ice skating rink named Ice Valley, 1000 seat recreation center, dog park, campground and a 72 boat slip marina on the Kankakee River. Fishing is plentiful as the district has 13 riverfront parks as well as a 5-acre stocked quarry. The district also features 2 softball complexes that have both been inducted into the Softball Hall of Fame. The KVPD is home to annual State and World Series tournaments drawing nearly 50,000 spectators throughout the year. The KVPD also hosts one of the biggest BBQ Festivals in the Midwest every July. The KVPD is the proud home to area youth baseball leagues and several teams throughout the system have gone on not only to win State Championships but to advance to the Little League World Series. [21]


Higher education

Organized in 1966 by a group of citizens, Kankakee Community College was established to provide a post-secondary educational resource for the people of the Kankakee area. The college offered its first classes in September 1968. It serves as an educational, vocational, and recreational center for residents of Community College District 520, an area encompassing all or part of Kankakee County, Iroquois County, Ford County, Grundy County, Livingston County, and Will County and serving a population of approximately 150,000. In its College Credit Division, KCC awards associate degrees, associate in Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion. Students attend KCC both to prepare to transfer to four-year institutions and complete bachelor's degrees and to prepare to enter the job market directly from KCC. Kankakee Community College serves over 6,000 students annually and the average class size is 16. The ratio of part-time to full-time students at Kankakee Community College is 3 to 1.[22]

Primary and secondary education

Public schools are part of the Kankakee School District 111. In Kankakee, there are six elementary schools (Aroma Park, Edison, Mark Twain, Lincoln Cultural Center Montessori, Steuben, and Taft), two middle schools (Kennedy and King), one junior high school (Kankakee Junior High), and one high school (Kankakee High) in the district, the latter from 1966-83 having been separated to two separate high schools, Eastridge and Westview.[23] Kankakee is also home to three private high schools: Bishop McNamara Catholic School (Catholic), Grace Christian Academy[24] (non-denominational[25]), and Kankakee Trinity Academy (inter-denominational [26]).

Local architecture

Kankakee River

The Kankakee River is a river that runs through Kankakee. It is approximately 133 miles long and is a major attraction and is viewed as a defining landmark of Kankakee. The Kankakee River provides the town vital resources and an economic boost. The river water is refined at the Kankakee water company, and electricity is generated at the Kankakee River Dam. The fishing also provides a tourist attraction for outdoors men and women alike.

See also


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