Introduction to DeKalb, Illinois

Located about 65 miles west of Chicago is the Illinois city of DeKalb. Accessible to many points in the state via Interstates 88 or 39, DeKalb is also close to the cities of Rockford (40 miles to the northwest) and Aurora (30 miles to the east). Known as the 'Barb City,' DeKalb is famous for being the birthplace of barbed wire, which was invented here by Joseph Glidden in 1873. The city is also home to Illinois' second largest university, Northern Illinois University, which was founded as Northern Illinois State Normal School in 1895.

The city of DeKalb shares the same name as the Illinois county in which it resides. They were named after General Baron Johan DeKalb, who came with Lafayette from France to serve in the Revolutionary War and fought in several battles leading the Maryland and Delaware Continentals. The exact reason why his name was chosen for this city is unclear, in light of the fact that there is no apparent link between the man and this region.

Founded in 1837, DeKalb saw its early growth and prosperity closely linked to the city's prominence in the barbed wire industry, which transformed the community from strictly an agricultural town to a major manufacturing center for the product. Another factor in the city's ongoing prosperity has been the presence of the University, which to this day provides a steady labor pool comprised of skilled and professional workers. DeKalb today is home to a variety of industries. As a leader in corn and soybean production, the county of DeKalb maintains its long tradition of being a center for agriculture. In addition, the city of DeKalb houses industries which include logistics, warehousing and distribution, electronics, biotechnology, and manufacturing of heavy equipment.

Arts and Entertainment in DeKalb

Rich in history, DeKalb offers its residents and visitors a variety of architectural and entertainment venues which showcase both the past and present. Perhaps the most notable of DeKalb's historic gems is the Ellwood House Museum. Built by barbed wire millionaire Isaac L. Ellwood in 1879, this grand Victorian mansion is operated as an historic house museum and is open for guided tours. Another historic site in the city is the famed Egyptian Theatre, a restored 1930s movie palace which also features some of the best Egyptian/Art Deco architecture in the country. The Stage Coach Theater, organized in 1946, is one of the oldest community theaters in the state. Other famous attractions include: the Gurler House, a beautiful example of the Greek Revival Style; the Harley-Davidson Museum, exhibiting over 65 antique and modern motorcycles; the J.F. Glidden Homestead & Historical Center, honoring the inventor of barbed wire; the Blackwell History of Education Museum, a one-room schoolhouse with displays and programs available to the public; and the Altgeld Art Gallery, located at Northern Illinois University.

DeKalb also hosts community-wide celebrations, such as Corn Fest, a celebration of the city's agricultural heritage, which features live music, food, a marathon race, and activities for kids. Holiday festivals include downtown DeKalb’s Halloween Spooktacular and also Holly Days, an event which features horse-drawn carriage rides.

Collegiate sports are alive and well in DeKalb due to the presence of the Northern Illinois University Huskies. A Division-I member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) since 1997, the Huskies football team has one MAC Conference Championship under its belt and has won eight championships from other conferences with which it had been affiliated previously. Fans of professional sports can take the roughly 30-minute drive to Chicago to catch some action, much of which is major league variety, featuring the following teams:

  • Chicago White Sox (MLB American League baseball)
  • Chicago Cubs (MLB National League baseball)
  • Chicago Bulls (NBA basketball)
  • Chicago Bears (NFL football)
  • Chicago Blackhawks (NHL hockey)
  • Chicago Sky (WNBA basketball)
  • Chicago Fire (MLS soccer)
  • Chicago Machine (MLL lacrosse)
  • Chicago Rockstars (ABA basketball)
  • Chicago Rush (AFL Arena Football)

Dekalb Almanac

County DeKalb County
Standard Zip Codes60115
Phone Area Codes779,815
Time ZoneAmerica/Chicago
Approximate Latitude41.89
Approximate Longitude-88.75

Dekalb Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


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

StationDE KALB
Distance1.9 miles
Jan Temp10 to 27 F
Apr Temp37 to 58 F
Jul Temp63 to 84 F
Oct Temp40 to 63 F
Annual Precip37.3 inches
Distance16.3 miles
Jan Temp8 to 27 F
Apr Temp35 to 58 F
Jul Temp60 to 83 F
Oct Temp37 to 62 F
Annual Precip33.6 inches
StationPAW PAW 2 NW
Distance19.1 miles
Jan Temp8 to 25 F
Apr Temp36 to 57 F
Jul Temp60 to 82 F
Oct Temp38 to 61 F
Annual Precip36.7 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

LocationPopulationMedian Family Income
Maple Park1,273$70,682

Dekalb Public Libraries

Dekalb Public Library
Dekalb, Illinois
(815) 756-9568

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Dekalb Hospitals

Kishwaukee Community Hospital
One Kish Hospital Drive
(815) 756-1521

Dekalb Public Schools

Clinton Rosette Middle School
650 N 1st St
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2324
Total Enrollment 529
De Kalb High School
501 W Dresser Rd
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2118
Total Enrollment 1641
Dekalb Early Learning And Development Center
1515 S 4th St
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2999
Total Enrollment 229
Founders Elementary School
821 S 7th St
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-3800
Total Enrollment 581
Gwendolyn Brooks Elem Sch
3225 Sangamon Dr
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-9936
Total Enrollment 339
Huntley Middle School
1515 S 4th St
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2241
Total Enrollment 877
Jefferson Elem School
211 Mccormick Dr
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2263
Total Enrollment 294
Lincoln Elementary School
220 E Sunset Pl
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2212
Total Enrollment 302
Littlejohn Elem School
1121 School St
ZIP: 60115
(815) 754-2258
Total Enrollment 339

Dekalb Private Schools

Camolot Schools-dekalb Campus
315 N 6th St
ZIP: 60115
Combined Elementary And Secondary
Total Enrollment 123
International Montessori Academy
403 Fisk Ave
ZIP: 60115
Total Enrollment 32
St Mary School
210 Gurler Rd
ZIP: 60115
Total Enrollment 214
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