Introduction to Charleston, Illinois

Charleston, Illinois, in Coles county, is 40 miles W of Terre Haute, Indiana (center to center) and 109 miles W of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Charleston History

The area now known as Charleston was originally inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. Europeans settled in this area during the first half of the 19th century. Benjamin Parker was its first permanent settler. The city of Charleston was incorporated in 1865 and named after its first postmaster, Charles Morton. The Eastern Illinois State Normal School was established in 1895 in Charleston. The school later was named Eastern Illinois University. Charleston is also the site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Charleston and nearby Attractions

  • Fox Ridge State Park
  • Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site
  • Walnut Point State Park
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum
  • Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Hidden Springs State Forest

Things To Do In Charleston

While staying in Charleston, you can visit the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum and Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. The local parks include Lakeview Park, Sister City Park, North Park, Kiwanis Park, Reasor Park, Heritage Woods Park, and VFW Way Park. You can enjoy fishing and boating on Lake Charleston. The Lafferty Nature Study Area and Woodyard Conservation Area are also worth visiting. In addition, the city of Charleston organizes numerous recreational programs throughout the year.

Charleston Transportation

Coles County Memorial Airport is nearby.

Charleston Higher Education

Eastern Illinois University is the local university. Other colleges and universities offering higher educational facilities are Lake Land College, Parkland College, and University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign.


Total Population 21,552
Male Share of the Population 47.7%
Female Share of the Population 52.3%
Senior Citizens 10.1%
Employed Population 16+ 10,020
Age of the Population 24


% of people married 29.3%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 34.6%
Median Earnings25+ $26,199
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $13,750
Median Earnings With High School Degree $19,565


Median Family Income $50,175
% Above Poverty Level 66.1%
% Below Poverty Level 33.9%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 15 minutes
% Working from Home 4.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 14.5%
% Using Public Transportation 1.5%


People Living Alone 35.2%
Median Gross Rent $642
Median House Value $93,500


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 17.9%
US/American 0%
English 8.4%
Irish 13%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Charleston Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 40 miles W of Terre Haute, Indiana (center to center)
Nearest Large City 109 miles W of Indianapolis, Indiana
County Coles
Standard Zip Codes 61920
Phone Area Codes 217
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 39.496
Longitude -88.176

Charleston Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 2.1 miles
Jan Temp 19 to 35 F
Apr Temp 43 to 65 F
Jul Temp 65 to 88 F
Oct Temp 45 to 68 F
Annual Precip 41.7 inches
Distance 21.8 miles
Jan Temp 18 to 34 F
Apr Temp 42 to 66 F
Jul Temp 66 to 88 F
Oct Temp 45 to 68 F
Annual Precip 40.6 inches
Distance 35.3 miles
Jan Temp 18 to 35 F
Apr Temp 42 to 64 F
Jul Temp 66 to 87 F
Oct Temp 43 to 67 F
Annual Precip 42 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Charleston, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

Rardin (61920)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Ashmore 828 $58,125

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Charleston Public Libraries

Charleston Carnegie P.l.
Charleston, Illinois
(217) 345-4913

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More Information for Librarians

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Charleston High Schools

Serves 911 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.8

Charleston Colleges

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Info for Charleston Government Officials

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