Introduction to Decatur, Illinois

Decatur, Illinois, in Macon county, is 109 miles NE of St. Louis, Missouri. Decatur is located in Central Illinois and it's situated along the Sangamon River and near Lake Decatur. The city features historic neighborhoods and a restored downtown area. Decatur's economy has changed from being manufacturing based to being powered by the service sector. The region is called the "Soybean Capital of the World" due to being home to the major agricultural companies, ADM and Tate & Lyle North America.

Decatur History

The city was established in 1836 and was named in tribute to Stephen Decatur, a hero during the War of 1812. The Great Western Railroad arrived in 1854 followed by the arrival of the Illinois Central. Due to the two railroads, the city became a flourishing manufacturing center. The first place of residence in Illinois for Abraham Lincoln was very near Decatur. One of his first political speeches was given in the city. Decatur was host to the Illinois Republican State Convention in 1860 where Lincoln was provided with his first endorsement for the presidency.

Decatur Higher Education

Decatur is home to Millikin University and Richland Community College.

Decatur Transportation

The city is home to Decatur International Airport. A Bus-trolley system provides transportation in the downtown and college campus areas.

Decatur Attractions

  • The Children's Museum of Illinois includes numerous interactive exhibits.
  • Macon County Museum Complex showcases exhibits of life during the "Prairie years" as well as the Victorian era. It also includes the historic log courthouse where Abraham Lincoln tried several law cases.
  • The Lincoln Trail Homestead Memorial features the home of Thomas Lincoln and his son Abraham Lincoln.
  • The historic Richard J. Oglesby Mansion includes historic furnishings.
  • Millikin Homestead features an impressive brick mansion.
  • Bethel School is a restored one room school house located at Friends Creek Conservation Center.
  • The Wabash Depot Antique Center was the headquarters of the Wabash Railroad company. The attractive restored building is popular for antique shopping.
  • Transfer House is an historic Victorian building.
  • Madden Arts Center features a wide variety of art exhibits.
  • The Kirkland Galleries & Kirkland Fine Arts Center is located in Millikin University and showcases art created by nationally know artists.

Decatur Entertainment

  • Scovill Zoo showcases Timberwolves, cheetahs and camels.
  • Kirkland Fine Arts Center auditorium features opera, Broadway touring groups, music and a variety of performances.
  • Central Illinois Jazz Festival is a notable event.
  • Downtown Madri Gras features a parade and Cajun food.
  • Decatur Celebration is one of the largest family street style festivals in the Midwest.
  • Downtown Decatur features numerous art galleries, pubs, unique shops, a variety of restaurants and nightlife.
  • Hickory Point Mall is a popular shopping location.
  • Blues in Central Park features prominent performers.
  • Avon Theater is a popular venue.

Decatur Activities

Lake Decatur provides opportunities for boating, fishing for bass and walleye and bird and wildlife watching. Fishing enthusiasts enjoy Sportsman's Park. The Rock Springs Conservation Area includes wetlands and bluffs. The Spitler Woods State Natural Area contains two scenic hiking trails and areas filled with white oak and hickory trees. Friends Creek Conservation Area includes three scenic nature trails and a diverse landscape.

The Decatur/Forsyth area features 39 parks. Residents and visitors enjoy hiking, bicycle riding, horseback riding and golfing at the local courses. The Decatur region was ranked number 18 by Golf Digest Magazine for factors such as accessibility and affordability. The Rock Springs/Fairview Bikeway is a popular destination for bicycle riders. During the winter, cross-country skiing, ice skating and sledding are popular activities.


Total Population 74,654
Male Share of the Population 47.1%
Female Share of the Population 52.9%
Senior Citizens 17.4%
Employed Population 16+ 31,230
Age of the Population 39


% of people married 41.3%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 21%
Median Earnings25+ $30,639
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $16,297
Median Earnings With High School Degree $24,257


Median Family Income $50,503
% Above Poverty Level 75.4%
% Below Poverty Level 24.6%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 17 minutes
% Working from Home 2.2%
% Walking and Biking to Work 2.5%
% Using Public Transportation 1.8%


People Living Alone 37.5%
Median Gross Rent $652
Median House Value $80,100


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 32.3%
US/American 0%
English 8.3%
Irish 12.9%

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

Decatur Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 109 miles NE of St. Louis, Missouri
County Macon
Metro Area Decatur
Standard Zip Codes 62521, 62522, 62523, 62526
P.O. Box Zip Codes 62524, 62525
Phone Area Codes 217
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 39.84
Longitude -88.954

Decatur Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


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

Distance 0.5 miles
Jan Temp 17 to 35 F
Apr Temp 42 to 65 F
Jul Temp 65 to 88 F
Oct Temp 44 to 68 F
Annual Precip 39.7 inches
Distance 14.7 miles
Jan Temp 15 to 34 F
Apr Temp 41 to 64 F
Jul Temp 64 to 88 F
Oct Temp 42 to 68 F
Annual Precip 37.5 inches
Distance 33 miles
Jan Temp 19 to 35 F
Apr Temp 43 to 65 F
Jul Temp 66 to 87 F
Oct Temp 45 to 68 F
Annual Precip 39.1 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

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

Bearsdale (62526)

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

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Forsyth 3,493 $94,891
Harristown 1,330 $73,906

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

Decatur Public Libraries

Decatur P.l.
Decatur, Illinois
(217) 424-2900
Library Web Site

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More Information for Librarians

Decatur Hospitals

(Voluntary non-profit - Church)
(217) 464-2966
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Other)
(217) 877-8121
Emergency Service: Yes

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Decatur High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 1,336 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 24.4

1200 S 16TH ST
Serves 1,213 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 29.2

A Vocational School
Serves 600 students.

PO BOX 3066
A Non-traditional School
Serves 193 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 38.6

A Non-traditional School
Serves 101 students.

A Non-traditional School
Serves 17 students.

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