The city bills itself as "The Crossroads of Opportunity" because of its location at the intersection of two major Interstate highways: I-57 running from Chicago, IL to Miner, MO, and I-70 running from Utah to Maryland. Thus, Effingham has a broad range of restaurants, lodging, and shopping facilities.
Effingham is also located on U.S. Highway 40, the historic National Road.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.7 square miles (22.6 km²), of which, 8.7 square miles (22.5 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.69%) is water.
Effingham is also historically important as a rail junction. The old Pennsylvania Railroad and the former Illinois Central Railroad crossed in downtown Effingham. Even today, Amtrak's City of New Orleans passes through daily. (See the following paragraph)
On April 5, 1949, St. Anthony's hospital caught fire and burned to the ground, killing 70 people. As a result, fire codes nationwide were improved. Due to extensive media coverage, including a LIFE magazine cover story, donations for rebuilding the hospital came from all 48 states and several foreign countries.
Effingham is also home to St. Anthony High School, a private Roman Catholic High School. SAHS athletics are known as the "Bulldogs".
There were 5,330 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,761, and the median income for a family was $45,902. Males had a median income of $31,442 versus $21,543 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,132. About 6.5% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.