Decatur is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois. The city, sometimes called "the Soybean Capital of the World", was founded in 1829 and is located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2000 the city population was 81,500, and 76,122 in 2010, due to continued population decline. Prior to the 2010 census, Decatur was the sixth-most populous city in Illinois, but is no longer listed in the top ten Illinois cities outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. According to Sperling's Best Places, Decatur's metropolitan area population is 114,749.
Decatur is a classic Midwest USA small city situated with homes and park areas facing Lake Decatur, and with many historic brick buildings downtown. This city is home of private Millikin University and public Richland Community College. Decatur is a college town with treelined streets and vast industrial and agricultural processing production and is located in the Interior Plains of North America. Decatur is home to the corporate headquarters of international agricultural conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland which laid off 335 workers in Decatur and 1200 companywide in 2012 according to Crain's Business newspaper.
In the transition from a manufacturing to a service economy, Decatur has experienced some population decline as new development activity grows to the outer Decatur metro area, seemingly blurring the detectable boundaries of contiguous city limits of neighboring communities Mount Zion, Harristown, and Forsyth. Decatur and Macon County's most notable resident was Abraham Lincoln, who settled with his family west of town in 1830. He later practiced law in the city after moving to nearby Springfield.
Decatur Municipal Band
The Muni band was organized September 19, 1857, making it one of the oldest nonmilitary bands in continuous service in the United States and Canada. It was originally known as the Decatur Brass Band, Decatur Comet Band and the Decatur Silver Band until 1871 when it was reorganized by Andrew Goodman and became the Goodman Band. In 1942 it was officially designated as the Decatur Municipal Band.
Quality of life
Sperling's BestPlaces says the city of Decatur, Illinois, on a scale of 1 to 10, has a property crime rate of 7 and a violent crime rate of 6, both of which are above the national average of 3 and is very close to the ratings given to Chicago (both 7). The metro area, however, has a violent crime rating of 2 and a property crime rating of 3. Decatur is the largest U.S. city without citywide mandatory trash service. Trash service, although mandated by ordinance, is strictly voluntary and handled by private contractors, not unlike a small town level of service. Resultingly, city staff issued estimates in 2010 that over 2,000 residential addresses have no trash service and widespread dumping in alleys has been described by the Macon County Health Department as a major public health hazard. A yearly voluntary cleanup yields dozens of tons of improperly dumped trash in alleys. Sperling's BestPlaces also reports 200 average days of sunshine for the Decatur metro area, which is near the national average of 205.
The Decatur Public Library was originally built with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The original library was built in 1902 and opened to the public in 1903. The building served the community until 1970 when the library moved to North Street at the site of a former Sears, Roebuck & Co. store. In 1999 the library moved to its present location on Franklin Street, also an abandoned Sears building. The library is part of the Illinois Heartland Library System.
The city's motto is "Decatur, We Like it Here". The old motto was "The Pride of the Prairie". "The Soybean Capital of the World" is the un-official, but popular motto. Decatur was awarded the All-America City Award in 1960. The city's symbol is the Transfer House, an early-20th-century Victorian structure located originally in the center of town where the city's mass transit lines met. The Transfer House was moved in 1963 to save it from possible destruction as increasing automobile traffic flowed through the highway routed through downtown. Decatur is a sister city to Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan and to Seevetal, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Decatur was the original home of the Chicago Bears, from 1919 to 1920. The football team was then known as the Decatur Staleys and played at Staley Field, both named after the local food-products manufacturer. From 1900 to 1974 Decatur was the home of the Commodores, a minor-league baseball team playing at Fans Field.
The USTA/Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic has been held annually since 1999. Male players from over 20 countries compete for $10,000 in prize money as well as ATP world ranking points at the Fairview Park Tennis Complex. The tournament is held for ten consecutive days at Fairview Park concluding on the first weekend in August. Starting in 2007, Decatur has hosted the Rodney T. Miller Lakeside Triathlon. This sprint-distance triathlon presently is scheduled on the first weekend each July.
In 2009 Prairie Land Competitive baseball was formed and looking for baseball players to join a new league fit for all skill levels 18 years or older and will compete with local teams and against teams from cities such as Champaign Urbana, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Lincoln, Monticello, Clinton, Pana, and Mattoon-Charleston.
Decatur hosts the annual LPGA Futures Tour Tate & Lyle Players Championship, the tours major championship. The tournament is traditionally held in June.
Local Macon County park resources include Lake Decatur, Lincoln Trail Homestead State Memorial, Rock Springs Conservation Area, Fort Daniel Conservation Area, Sand Creek Recreation Area, Griswold Conservation Area, Friends Creek Regional Park, and Spitler Woods State Natural Area. Decatur, at one time was dubbed "Park City U.S.A." because it had more parks per person that any other city in the country.
Decatur Airport is served by three daily commercial flights on Cessna Grand Caravans to and from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Air Choice One. The airport facility has hosted notable visitors Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Vice-President Dan Quayle, and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (at the invitation of his long-time friend, Dwayne Andreas, former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland).
Interstate 72, U.S. Route 51, U.S. Route 36, Illinois Route 48, Illinois Route 105, and Illinois Route 121 are key highway links for the area, as well. The Decatur Public Transit System (DPTS) provides fixed route bus service as well as complementary door-to-door paratransit service for people with disabilites, who are unable to use the bus system, throughout the City of Decatur. Under an agreement with the Village of Forsyth, service is also provided to the Hickory Point Mall area in Forsyth.