As reported in the 2000 U.S. Census, the city was home to 67,518 people. The city held a special census in 2007 that showed that its population had grown to 75,254. The mayor is Gerald Schweighart, whose term will expire in 2011.
Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad laid its rail track two miles west of downtown Urbana. Originally called "West Urbana," it was renamed Champaign when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio.
On September 22, 1985, Champaign hosted the first Farm Aid concert at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers.
In 2005, Champaign-Urbana (specifically the University of Illinois) was the location of the National Science Olympiad Tournament, attracting young scientists from all 50 states. The city also hosts the state Science Olympiad competition every year. The University of Illinois is next expected to host the National competition in 2010.
Champaign is located at (40.112981, -88.261227).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.0 square miles (44.1 km²), of which, 17.0 square miles (44.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.12%) is water.
Champaign shares a border with the neighboring city of Urbana; together they are home to the University of Illinois. Champaign, Urbana, and the bordering village of Savoy form the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area also known as Urbana-Champaign or Champaign-Urbana. It may also be colloquially known as the "Twin Cities" or Chambana.
As of the census of 2000, there were 67,518 people, 27,071 households, and 12,452 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,974.6 people per square mile (1,534.4/km²). There were 28,556 housing units at an average density of 1,681.0/sq mi (648.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.16% White, 15.62% African American, 0.24% Native American, 6.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.94% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.03% of the population.
There were 27,071 households out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 36.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 31.7% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,795, and the median income for a family was $52,628. Males had a median income of $36,574 versus $27,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,664. About 8.1% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
The 2005 median home value was $131,000, a 6.8% increase from 2004, according to Money Magazine.
In addition to the University of Illinois, Champaign is also home to Parkland College. A Kraft Foods plant (and adjacent AC Humko plant), a Fed-Ex Ground hub, the world's largest steam factory, and Herff-Jones (formerly the Collegiate Cap and Gown) form part of the city's industrial base.
The city also features a large technology and software industry mostly focusing around research and development of new technologies. The Research Park, located in southern Champaign and backed by the University of Illinois, is home to many companies including iCyt (a biotechnology company), the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, Yahoo!, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Science Applications International Corporation, State Farm Research Center , and Tekion (a fuel cell company). Numerous other software and technology companies also have offices in Champaign including Wolfram Research, AMD, Intel, IBM, Amdocs, Instarecon, Phonak, Power World, Caterpillar Simulation Center, and Volition, Inc.. The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign.
Champaign is also home to nationally recognized record labels, artist management companies, booking agencies and recording studios. Polyvinyl Records, Undertow Music, Parasol Records, Great Western Record Recorders, Pogo Studios, and Nicodemus Booking Agency are all based in Champaign.
The Champaign City Building serves as the City Hall and is a recognizable landmark. As one of the most visible buildings in the downtown district, it serves as a city symbol, with its likeness featured on the city seal. The ornate decoration, art deco architecture, and copper roof distinguish the building. The building was originally used by the city as the headquarters for the fire department. It later became the headquarters for the police department, complete with indoor shooting range, before becoming the current city offices.
In the 1980s part of the downtown Champaign area (Neil St.) was closed to vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian mall, but this short-lived experiment was scrapped when business declined. Initiated by Jon "Cody" Sokolski of One Main Development, the downtown area of Champaign was recently the target of a largely successful revitalization effort designed to bring more businesses into the area and return the downtown district to the center of city life. In addition to efforts which restored the facades on many of the historic buildings, additional construction projects including restaurants, bars, shops, office space, and condominiums, have recently increased the size of the downtown area, while still maintaining the distinct turn-of-the-century architecture associated with the city. The new growth in downtown Champaign has coincided with the larger growth of the "north Prospect" shopping district on the city's northern boundary. The growth in the north Prospect area relies, in part, on leapfrogging, moving out to the countryside and developing more remote farm land that eventually connects to the main development. Given the overwhelming success of such suburban shopping areas nationally, new development within any city center represents an alternative to the dominant movement out and away from the cities. In April 2007 One Main Development broke ground on a nine story $30 million dollar mixed use project, the largest ever for downtown Champaign, to be located at the corner of Neil and Church Street. M2 on Neil will feature ground floor retail, office and 50 condominiums. The project is expected to be complete in late 2008. The City of Champaign is also constructing a six story parking structure on Hill Street. Construction on this project is expected to begin in January and be completed by Fall 2008.
Boardman's Art Theatre, which shows critically-acclaimed independent and foreign films, was built in 1913 as the Park Theatre. It has since undergone several changes in name and repertoire, including a phase from 1969 to 1986, in which it showed adult films. The theatre is the only single-screen movie theater still in existence operating daily as a movie theatre in Champaign-Urbana.
Located along Green Street, this commercial district serves as the entertainment and retail center for students at the University of Illinois. This area has been undergoing great change since 2002 with the completion of a new $7 million streetscape project. Campustown is now attracting new retail and entertainment stores as well as serving as the center for new construction projects. Several new projects will be opening in 2008 including the 18 story Burnham high-rise and grocery store at 4th and Springfield, and a new 24 story apartment building at 309 East Green Street.
There are 58 parks within the city of Champaign, totaling over 552 acres (2 km²) of parkland.
Champaign is served by I-57, I-72, I-74, two railroad lines, and the University of Illinois operated Willard Airport (CMI). The local bus system, which is supported by the taxpayers of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) and the University of Illinois, serves Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and surrounding areas.
The former Illinois Central Railroad line — now part of the Canadian National system — runs north to south through the city. A spur line from the Canadian National line provides service to several large industries, including two large food processing plants, on the west edge of Champaign and two grain elevators in outlying communities to the west. The Norfolk Southern operates an east to west line through Champaign. The NS line connects industries in eastern Urbana to the Norfolk Southern main line at Mansfield, Illinois, west of Champaign. The line now operated by Norfolk Southern is the former Peoria & Eastern Railway, later operated as part of the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway), New York Central, Penn Central, and Conrail systems, being sold by Conrail to Norfolk Southern in 1996. Construction of the line was begun by the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad. This short-lived entity became part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway before the railroad was completed.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Champaign-Urbana. Amtrak Train 59, the southbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Champaign at 10:34 p.m. daily with service to Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Carbondale, Fulton, Newbern-Dyersburg, Memphis, Greenwood, Yazoo City, Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb, Hammond, and New Orleans. Amtrak Train 58, the northbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Champaign at 6:10am daily with service to Kankakee, Homewood, and Chicago. Champaign-Urbana is also served by Amtrak Train 390/391, the Saluki, daily in the morning, and Amtrak Train 392/393, the Illini, daily in the afternoon/evening. Both the Saluki and the Illini operate between Chicago and Carbondale.
Greyhound Lines, Illini Shuttle , and Suburban Express bus companies also serve Champaign. In 1999, a newly designed intermodal transportation center, aptly named Illinois Terminal by historic reference to the defunct electric interurban rail line that once ran through Champaign, was completed and serves as a central facility for intercity passenger rail and bus services as well as the MTD's local bus network. The terminal has within the last year experienced a 51% increase in passenger traffic.