Most of the city lies in LaSalle County, although a small portion extends into northwestern Livingston County. In the 2000 census, 13,948 of Streator's 14,190 residents (98.3%) lived in LaSalle County and 242 (1.7%) lived in Livingston County.
Streator is a principal city of the Ottawa–Streator Micropolitan Statistical Area, which was the ninth-most populous Micropolitan Statistical Area in the United States as of 2007. The small Livingston County portion of Streator is part of the Pontiac Micropolitan Statistical Area.
There were 5,746 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,868, and the median income for a family was $43,774. Males had a median income of $34,932 versus $20,994 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,650. About 8.3% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
Streator began with coal, while areas north of the Illinois River prospered with lumber. The area was originally known as Hardscrabble. The town later was named for early industrialist Dr. Worthy L. Streator, who financed the regions first mining operation. The town was officially incorporated as The City of Streator in 1868. Colonel Ralph Plumb was brought in to manage the Vermilion Coal Company. Among his duties was overseeing the platting and incorporation of the quickly growing town.
Scottish, German and Irish immigrants immigrated to the area, later followed by scores of Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians and Hungarians seeking new opportunities in the mines. Today many of the residents are direct descendants of these original miners.
Clarence E. Mulford grew up in Streator. As an author, he wrote the Hopalong Cassidy series of books. The Hopalong Cassidy River Trail winds along the banks of the Vermilion River, which passes Mulford's boyhood home.
Bob Tattersall who was the King of Midget Car Racing, and Mary Lee Robb Cline who was the third actress to play the part of Marjorie, the niece of Thockmorton P. Gildersleeve, the principal character in the radio program The Great Gildersleeve.
Streator's notable structures include an ornate Bauhaus-inspired National Guard Armory, the town's original City Hall (now a business), and a Carnegie Library. There are also many private homes of significant historical value, including homes on Broadway Street and Pleasant Avenue.
Founded in 1883, St. Stephens Catholic Church was the first Slovak Catholic church in the United States.
Vactor Manufacturingis the worlds leading producer of heavy-duty sewer cleaning equipment. They are the second largest employer in Streator with 530 employees.
Owens-Illinois Streator Plant produces Duraglas XL (TM) glass, which is used to make lightweight, stronger beer bottles for the Miller Brewing Company.
St. Mary's Hospital is the city's largest employer. Founded in 1886 by the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, this 251 bed hospital serves Streator and its outlying areas.
Current products of Streator include building and paving brick, milk and soda water bottles, auto parts, banana crates, sewer pipe, clothing, draintile, washing machines, auto truck dump bodies, and hydraulic hoists.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15.0 km²), of which, 5.8 square miles (14.9 km²) of it is land and 0.17% is water.
The Vermilion River traverses the west side of Streator.
In 2006 Streator city officials have been in talks with Green Lion Bio-Fuels, LLC regarding a proposal for the creation of an ethanol production plant to be located in the Streator Industrial Park. As of February 2008, plans for this plant have been suspended..