Kewanee is a city in Henry County, Illinois, United States. "Kewanee" is the Winnebago word for prairie chicken, which lekked there. The population was 12,944 at the 2000 census.
Kewanee is located at (41.241180, -89.925680).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16.3 km²), of which, 6.3 square miles (16.3 km²) of it is land and 0.16% is water.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 12,944 people, 5,353 households, and 3,377 families residing in the city. The population density
was 2,062.1 people per square mile (795.8/km²). There were 5,879 housing units at an average density of 936.6/sq mi (361.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.27% White
, 3.68% African American
, 0.06% Native American
, 0.35% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 3.69% from other races
, and 1.95% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 6.10% of the population.
There were 5,353 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 88.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,895, and the median income for a family was $37,730. Males had a median income of $29,065 versus $19,792 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,746. About 10.7% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.0% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.
Kewanee was well known in the steam
industry for its boilers. The Kewanee Boiler
Corporation manufactured and sold thousands of boilers throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada and the world for well over one hundred years. However, the company failed in its latter years and was forced to go out of business. However, these boilers are still extremely common in the steam
industry. An example of a Kewanee steam boiler can be seen in a scene in the movie The Blues Brothers
. Specifically, when Cab Calloway's character named Curtis offers to "buy you boys a drink", he takes Jake and Elwood down to the orphanage's basement, where the boiler is easily seen in the background. A Kewanee boiler is also the dwelling place for the character Suzie DeSoto, played by Debra Winger, in the 1982 film version of John Steinbeck's book Cannery Row
. The Kewanee High School athletic teams are nicknamed the "Boilermakers."
Kewanee was also home to the Walworth Company, Kewanee Machinery and Conveyor Company and Kewanee Manufacturing Company - all manufacturers that employed many local blue collar workers in their heyday. Kewanee, once a prominent industrial town, has fallen into silence like many similar communities in the past twenty years.
Kewanee has two school districts, resulting from the Wethersfield and Kewanee merger. The two school districts remain in the city of 11,400, divided at Division Street in the middle of Kewanee. While Kewanee School District #229 has around 1,850 students, Wethersfield #230 has about 600 students. The two schools enjoy a usually friendly rivalry, since both district high schools are in different divisions for most sports. However, this rivalry can become very heated in the sports the two high schools do compete in, most notably basketball
There are also other schools in Kewanee like Visitation Catholic School and a community college, Black Hawk College - East Campus Black Hawk College - East Campus is recognized nationally for its equestrian program, as well as livestock judging teams. The west campus is located in the Quad Cities.
Recently, the Kewanee School Board and the Wethersfield School Board conducted a feasibility study on the subject of consolidation
, which would provide the town one school district. Wethersfield also completed a feasibility study with two nearby towns, Annawan
. Currently, Wethersfield and Annawan share co-ops in several sports programs under the name of the Titans.]
- 1450 WKEI, News/Talk
- 1500 WGEN, News/Talk
- Cable service is provided by Comcast.
Notable Kewanee businesses
- Neville Brand - (August 13, 1920 - April 16, 1992) was a highly decorated World War II veteran who later became an actor most remembered for movie and TV roles in the 1950s and 60s
- Marjabelle Young Stewart (May 16, 1924 – March 3, 2007) was an American writer and expert on etiquette.
- Harold W. Hill (November 22, 1921–1989) - World War II Veteran Ball-turret gunner in a B-17 bomber in North Africa, Italy, over France and Germany. Kewanee Attorney from 1952. City Commissioner 1952-1966. Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander in 1963. Honored with the Harold W. Hill Recreation Center of Kewanee VFW Post 8078.
- Kevin M. Hill (September 16, 1952 - ) Author (under the penname - K Mike Hill): The Undefeated, Rearguard in Vietnam, 2004; The Armchair General, 2007
- Theodore Vlahos- Inventor of fish filet sandwich and one of the founders for the SANDY'S franchise of fast-food restaurants
- Paul Gerard - writer and film producer
- Despite its relatively small size, Kewanee maintains two separate school districts, Kewanee district #229 and Wethersfield district #230. The latter is named after a small town, founded by former residents of Wethersfield, Connecticut, that eventually merged with Kewanee.
- Kewanee is acknowledged as the Hog Capital of the World. This fact was even mentioned in an episode of Law and Order: SVU.
- Every Labor Day weekend, Kewanee holds its annual Hog Days festival, complete with a parade, flea market, and carnival.