Prior to the American Civil War there was a proposal to establish a Western District of Columbia to include present day Metropolis and the nearby area of Kentucky. An 1850 map illustrates this proposal.
On January 21, 1972 DC Comics declared Metropolis "Hometown of Superman". On June 9, 1972 the Illinois State Legislature passed Resolution 572 that declared Metropolis the "Hometown of Superman," the comic book superhero who is based in the fictional city of Metropolis. Among the ways it celebrates the character are a large Superman statue in the city, a small Superman museum, and an annual Superman festival that is in June. Also, it has a local newspaper, known as The Metropolis Planet, a name inspired by the newspaper in fictional Metropolis, The Daily Planet.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13.1 km²), of which, 5.0 square miles (13.0 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (1.18%) is water.
There were 2,896 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 36.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.77.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 24.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 79.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,371, and the median income for a family was $33,979. Males had a median income of $27,630 versus $17,561 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,967. About 12.5% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.8% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.
The town of Metropolis, Illinois, is a lot more like Superman's adoptive midwestern home town of Smallville. There are no movie theaters in Metropolis. Residents who want to see a theatrical release of a Superman film, ostensibly set in their town's fictional namesake, must travel to another town (typically Paducah, Kentucky) to do so.
The real town of Metropolis is portrayed in one Superman comic-book story, specifically "Superman #92", in a story titled "Massacre in Metropolis!" (which is continued into "Adventures of Superman #515"), as a town whose citizens idolize, what is to them, the real-life Man of Steel. A villain named Massacre arrives in the town, having gotten lost and thinking he was in the "other" Metropolis, the city where Superman actually lives. He attacks a security guard and threatens many citizens in order to get proper directions to Superman's Metropolis.