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Decatur, Illinois

Decatur, Illinois

Decatur /dəˈkeɪtər/ is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois, with a population of 76,122 as of the 2010 Census. The city was founded in 1829 and is situated along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2017, the city's estimated population was 72,174.[4]

The city is home of private Millikin University and public Richland Community College. Decatur has vast industrial and agricultural processing production, including the North American headquarters[5] of agricultural conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland, international agribusiness Tate & Lyle's largest corn-processing plant, and the designing and manufacturing facilities for Caterpillar Inc.'s wheel-tractor scrapers, compactors, large wheel loaders, mining class motor grader, off-highway trucks, and large mining trucks.

Decatur, Illinois
Soy City; Soybean Capital of the World; Limitless Decatur
Location of Decatur in Macon County, Illinois
Location of Decatur in Macon County, Illinois
Decatur is located in Illinois
Location in Illinois
Decatur is located in the United States
Decatur (the United States)
Coordinates:39°50′29.12″N 88°57′21.17″W [90]
CountryUnited States
TownshipsDecatur, Harristown, Hickory Point, Long Creek, Oakley, South Wheatland, Whitmore
 • Mayor and City ManagerJulie Moore Wolfe and Scot Wrighton [1]
 • Total46.96 sq mi (121.62 km2)
 • Land42.27 sq mi (109.48 km2)
 • Water4.68 sq mi (12.13 km2)  10.0%%
677 ft (206 m)
 • Total76,122
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,720.00/sq mi (664.09/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)EDT
ZIP code
62521, 62522, 62523, 62526
Area code(s)217
FIPS code17-18823
Websitewww.decaturil.gov [91]


Decatur is located at 39°51′6″N 88°56′39″W [92] (39.851636, −88.944228).[6] Decatur is 180 miles southwest of Chicago, 40 miles east of Springfield, the state capital, and 115 miles northeast of St. Louis.

According to the 2010 census, Decatur has an area of 46.91 square miles (121.50 km2), of which 42.22 square miles (109.35 km2) (or 90%) is land and 4.69 square miles (12.15 km2) (or 10%) is water.[7] Lakes include Lake Decatur, formed in 1923 by the damming of the Sangamon River.

The Decatur Metropolitan Statistical Area (population 109,900) includes surrounding towns of Argenta, Boody, Blue Mound, Elwin, Forsyth, Harristown, Long Creek, Macon, Maroa, Mount Zion, Niantic, Oakley, Oreana, and Warrensburg.


Climate data for Decatur
Record high °F (°C)72
Average high °F (°C)34.2
Daily mean °F (°C)25.2
Average low °F (°C)16.0
Record low °F (°C)−22
Average precipitation inches (mm)1.97
Average snowfall inches (cm)4.7
Average rainy days54666655544460
Source: NOAA[8] and WeatherBase[9]


Historical population
Est. 201871,290[3]−6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [93]

As of the 2010 census[12], there were 76,122 people, 32,344 households, and 18,991 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,800.9 people per square mile (695.3/km²). There were 36,134 housing units at an average density of 854.8 per square mile (330.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.6% White, 23.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.2% of the population.

There were 32,344 households, out of which 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.4% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female household with no husband present, and 41.3% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% 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 2.86.

In the city, the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 10.8% from ages 18 to 24, 23.4% from ages 25 to 44, 26.8% from ages 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,777, and the median income for a family was $50,176. Males had a median income of $46,579 versus $34,389 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,601. About 20.1% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.5% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.


Transfer House circa 1910

Transfer House circa 1910

A new branding effort for Decatur and Macon County was unveiled in 2015, Limitless Decatur [94] . The intention of the marketing strategy is to attract and retain business and residents by promoting the Decatur area as modern and progressive with opportunities to live, work and develop. [13]

For much of the 20th century, the city was known as "The Soybean Capital of the World"[14] owing to its being the location of the headquarters of A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company, a major grain processor in the 1920s, which popularized the use of soybeans to produce products for human consumption such as oil, meal and flour. At one time, over a third of all the soybeans grown in the world were processed in Decatur, Illinois. In 1955 a group of Decatur businessmen founded the Soy Capital Bank to trade on the nickname.

Decatur was awarded the All-America City Award in 1960.[15]

The city's symbol is the Transfer House,[16] an 1896 octagonal structure that was built in the original town square (now called "Lincoln Square") where the city's mass transit lines (streetcars and interurban trains) met. Designed by Chicago architect William W. Boyington, who also designed the famous Chicago Water Tower, the Transfer House was constructed to serve as a shelter for passengers transferring from one conveyance to another. It was regarded as one of the most beautiful structures of its kind in the United States, and a symbol of the city's high culture and modernity just decades after it was founded as a small collection of log cabins. The second story of the building consisted of an open-air gazebo used as a stage for public speeches and concerts by the Goodman Band. Sitting in the middle of the square as it was, increasing automobile traffic flowing through downtown Decatur on US 51 was forced to circle around the structure, and the Transfer House came to be seen by some as an impediment. The Illinois Department of Transportation, who maintained the US 51 highway route through Decatur, requested it be removed, and in 1962, the structure was transported by truck to nearby Central Park, where it stands today. In that location, it has served as a bus shelter, a visitor information center, and civic group offices.


On July 19, 1999, the Department of Community Development prepared a map of the official neighborhoods of Decatur, used for planning and statistical purposes. Decatur has 71 official neighborhoods.[17]

Sister cities

Since 1966, Decatur has been a sister city with Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan. In July 1972, the administrations of 19 independent smaller municipalities were merged to form Decatur's second sister city, Seevetal, Lower Saxony, Germany. The 19 towns and villages forming Seevetal were Beckedorf, Bullenhausen, Emmelndorf, Fleestedt, Glüsingen, Groß Moor, Helmstorf, Hittfeld, Holtorfsloh, Horst, Hörsten, Klein Moor, Lindhorst, Maschen, Meckelfeld, Metzendorf, Ohlendorf, Over and Ramelsloh. The Decatur Sister Cities Committee annually coordinates both inbound and outbound high school students, who serve as ambassadors among the three cities. Since mid-2012, the City of Decatur and City of Camajuaní in the Province of Villa Clara, Cuba have worked to develop sister city relations. As of March 2013, both governments have approved the relationship, but no formal agreements have been signed.[18]


The Decatur Transfer House in the background in downtown's Central Park

The Decatur Transfer House in the background in downtown's Central Park

Between 1829 and 1836, the County Commissioners Court had jurisdiction as it was the seat of Macon County.[19][20] By 1836 the population reached approximately 300, and Richard Oglesby was elected president of the first board of trustees.[19] Other members of the board of trustees included Dr. William Crissey, H.M. Gorin and Andrew Love as clerk.[19][20]

In 1839 a town charter was granted to Decatur that gave power to the trustees "to establish and regulate a fire department, to dig wells and erect pumps in the streets, regulate police of the town, [and] raise money for the purpose of commencing and prosecuting works of public improvement."[19][20] Those who served as president of the town of Decatur were: Richard Oglesby (1836), Joseph Williams (1837), Henry Snyder (1838), Kirby Benedict (1839), Joseph King (1840), Thomas P. Rodgers (1841), David Crone (1846–47), J.H. Elliott (1848), Joseph Kauffman (1849), Joseph King (1850), William S. Crissey (1851), W.J. Stamper (1852), William Prather (1853–54), and Thomas H. Wingate (1854–55).[19]

In the winter of 1855–56, a special city incorporation charter was obtained.[19][20] This charter provided an aldermanic form of government and on January 7, 1856, an election was held for mayor, two aldermen for each of the four wards, and city marshal.[19][20] This aldermanic form of government continued until January 18, 1911, when Decatur changed to city commissioner form of government.[19][21] The new commissioner system provided a mayor elected at-large and four commissioners to serve as administrators of city services: accounts and finance, public health and safety, public property, and streets and public improvements. The mayor also served as Commissioner of Public Affairs.[21][22]

The mayor and commissioner system prevailed until a special election on November 25, 1958 in which the present council-manager form of government was adopted.[20][22] According to the city website, the "City of Decatur operates under the Council-Manager form of government, a system which combines the leadership of a representative, elected council with the professional background of an appointed manager."[23] The mayor and all members of the council are elected at-large. Their duties include determining city policy and representing the city in public ceremonies, for which they receive nominal annual salaries.[22] The appointed manager handles all city administration and is the council's employee, not an elected official.[22] Since 1959, the following have served as City Managers: John E. Dever, W. Robert Semple, Leslie T. Allen, Jim Bacon, Jim Williams, Steve Garman, John A. Smith (acting), Ryan McCrady, Gregg Zientara (interim), Timothy Gleason, and Scot Wrighton, the current holder.[24]

Julie Moore Wolfe serves as the current mayor of Decatur. Moore Wolfe was appointed unanimously by the Decatur City Council following the death of Mayor Mike McElroy.[25] She is the first female to be mayor of Decatur. Moore Wolfe, who had been appointed mayor pro tem in May 2015, became acting mayor after McElroy died on July 17, 2015.[26] McElroy had been mayor since 2009 and had recently been re-elected to a second term as mayor in April 2015.[27] Moore Wolfe was elected to a four-year term as mayor on April 4, 2017.[28]


Those who served as president of the town of Decatur were: Richard Oglesby (1836), Joseph Williams (1837), Henry Snyder (1838), Kirby Benedict (1839), Joseph King (1840), Thomas P. Rodgers (1841), David Crone (1846–47), J.H. Elliott (1848), Joseph Kauffman (1849), Joseph King (1850), William S. Crissey (1851), W.J. Stamper (1852), William Prather (1853–54), and Thomas H. Wingate (1854–55).[19]

During the winter of 1855–56, a special incorporation charter of Decatur as a city was obtained providing for an aldermanic form of government.[19]

  • John P. Post (1856)[19]

  • William A. Barnes (1857)[19]

  • James Shoaff (1858)[19]

  • Alexander T. Hill (1859)[19]

  • Sheridan Wait (1860)[19]

  • Edward O. Smith (1861)[19]

  • Thomas O. Smith (1862)[19]

  • Jasper J. Peddecord (1863–1864)[19]

  • Franklin Priest (1865–66; 1870, 1874, 1878)[19]

  • John K. Warren (1867)[19]

  • Isaac C. Pugh (1868)[19]

  • William L. Hammer (1869)[19]

  • E.M. Misner (1871)[19]

  • D.S. Shellabarger (1872)[19]

  • Martin Forstmeyer (1873)[19]

  • R.H. Merriweather (1875)[19]

  • William B. Chambers (1876–1877; 1883–1884; 1891–1892)[19]

  • Lysander L. Haworth (1879)[19]

  • Henry W. Waggoner (1880–1882)[19]

  • Michael F. Kanan (1885–1890)[19]

  • David C. Moffitt (1893–1894)[19]

  • D.H. Conklin (1895–1896)[19]

  • B.Z. Taylor (1897–1898)[19]

  • George A. Stadler (1899–1900)[19]

  • Charles F. Shilling (1901–1904)[19]

  • George L. Lehman (1905–1906),[19]

  • E.S. McDonald (1907–1908)[19]

  • Charles M. Borchers (1909–1911; 1919–1923)[19]

  • Dan Dinneen (1911–1919)[19]

  • Elmer R. Elder (1923–1927)[19]

  • Orpheus W. Smith (1927–1935)[19]

  • Harry E. Barber (1935)[19]

  • Charles E. Lee (1936–1943)[19]

  • James A. Hedrick (1943–51)[19]

  • Robert E. Willis (1951–1955)[19]

  • Clarence A. Sablotny (1955–59)[19]

  • Jack W. Loftus, acting (1959)[19]

  • Robert A. Grohne (1959–1963)[19]

  • Ellis B. Arnold (May 1, 1963 to April 30, 1967)[19]

  • James H Rupp (1966–1977)[19]

  • Elmer W. Walton (1977–1983)[19]

  • Gary K. Anderson (1983–1992)[19]

  • Erik Brechnitz (1992–1995)[19]

  • Terry M. Howley (1995–2003)[19]

  • Paul Osborne (2003–2008) (resigned)

  • Mike Carrigan (2008–2009) (appointed)

  • Mike McElroy (2009–2015)

  • Julie Moore Wolfe (2015–present) (appointed 2015, elected 2017)


Decatur Municipal Band

The Municipal Band was organized September 19, 1857, making it one of the oldest nonmilitary bands in continuous service in the United States and Canada.[29] The band was originally known as the Decatur Brass Band, Decatur Comet Band and Decatur Silver Band until 1871 when it was reorganized by Andrew Goodman and became The Goodman Band. In 1942, the band was officially designated as the Decatur Municipal Band and chartered within the City of Decatur. The present Decatur Municipal Band, directed by Jim Culbertson since 1979, is composed of high school and college students and area adults from all walks of life, all of whom look to the Band as a serious avocation, or as a prelude to a life-long profession.


The Decatur Public Library was built with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The library was built in 1902 at the corner of Eldorado and Main and opened to the public July 1, 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, which is also an abandoned Sears building. The library is part of the Illinois Heartland Library System. The original Carnegie library building was razed and in its place a bank was built. [30]


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.[31] A.E. Staley created the team from regular Staley Processing employees who had an interest in the sport. As the team continued to win games and show promise, Staley decided to invest in the team further by hiring George Halas as its first coach. Halas led the team to success in the 1919 season, going 10-1-2. As the team continued to win, Staley realized that he could make more money and further develop the team if there were larger crowds and a larger venue to play at. Halas and Staley agreed to move the team to Chicago in 1921 and play at Wrigley Field. The team was to play one season as the Chicago Staleys. In 1922, they played their first season as the Chicago Bears.[32]

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 $25,000 in prize money as well as ATP world ranking points at the Fairview Park Tennis Complex. The tournament is held for eight consecutive days at Fairview Park concluding on the first weekend in August.

Professional golf

Decatur formerly hosted the annual Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and the Decatur Park District. The tournament is traditionally held in June.[33][34] The final year for the tournament was 2019.


The following Decatur men's fast pitch softball teams have won national championships:


  • 1981 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Champions

  • 1984 International Softball Congress (ISC) Champions

Decatur Pride

  • 1994 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Champions

  • 1999 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Champions

  • 1999 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Champions

  • 2000 International Softball Congress (ISC) Champions



  • Decatur Tribune[35] —weekly

  • The Decaturian[36] —bi-weekly student newspaper published by Millikin University

  • Herald & Review —daily owned by Lee Enterprises


  • Decatur Magazine[37] —bi-monthly


AM radio

  • WDZ —1050AM—ESPN Radio

  • WSOY—1340AM —Talk radio

  • 1650 AM[38] —Community

FM radio

  • WBGL —88.1 FM —Christian radio

  • WDCR (FM) —88.9 FM & 96.5 FM —Relevant Radio

  • WJMU —89.5 FM —Millikin University —Alternative rock

  • WYDS —93.1 FM —Top 40

  • WDZQ —95.1 FM —Country music

  • WXFM[39] —99.3 —Light Hits

  • WZUS —100.9 FM —Talk radio

  • WSOY —102.9 FM —Top 40

  • WEJT —105.1 FM —Adult hits

  • WCZQ —105.5 FM —Hip Hop & R&B

  • WZNX —106.7 FM —Classic rock

  • WDKR[39] —107.3 —Oldies



Decatur has production facilities for Caterpillar,[40] Archer Daniels Midland,[40] Mueller Co., and Tate & Lyle (previously A. E. Staley).[41]

Caterpillar Inc. has one of its largest manufacturing plants in the U.S. in Decatur. This plant produces Caterpillar's off highway trucks, wheel-tractor scrapers, compactors, large wheel loaders, mining-class motorgraders, and their ultra-class mining trucks (including the Caterpillar 797). Archer Daniels Midland processes corn and soybeans, Mueller produces water distribution products and Tate & Lyle processes corn in Decatur. From 1917 to 1922 Decatur was the location of the Comet Automobile Co.,[42] and the Pan-American Motor Corp.

Decatur has been ranked third in the nation as an Emerging Logistics and Distribution Center by Business Facilities: The Location Advisor,[43] and was named a Top 25 Trade City by Global Trade Magazine.[44] In 2013 the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County established the Midwest Inland Port,[45] a multi-modal transportation hub with market proximity to 95 million customers in a 500-mile radius. The port includes the Archer Daniels Midland Intermodal container ramp, the two class I railroads that service the ramp and the city (the Canadian National Railway, and the Norfolk Southern Railway), five major roadways and the Decatur Airport. The Midwest Inland Port also has a foreign trade zone and customs clearing,[46] and the area is both an enterprise zone and tax increment financing district.

Top employers

According to the City's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[47] the top employers in Decatur are as follows:


of employees

1Archer Daniels Midland4,159
2Decatur Memorial Hospital[48]2,142
3Caterpillar Inc.1,985
4Decatur Public Schools[49]1,625
5St. Mary's Hospital[50]1,025
6Millikin University615
7The Kelly Group[51]600
8Mueller Co.600
9Akorn Incorporated580
10Tate & Lyle580



  • Millikin University (enrollment 2,400), a four-year institution of higher education, has a 75-acre (300,000 m2) campus founded by James Millikin and was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

  • Richland Community College (enrollment 3,500) is a comprehensive community college. It also hosts the biannual Farm Progress Show.

  • Walther Theological Seminary is a Confessional Lutheran seminary affiliated with Pilgrim Lutheran Church.

Public schools

K–12 public education in the Decatur area is provided by the Decatur Public School District #61.[52] High school athletics were in the Big Twelve Conference up to 2013–14. The last two schools in Decatur joined the Central State Eight in the 2014–15 season.[53][54]

  • Eisenhower High School (mascot: Panther)

  • MacArthur High School (mascot: General)

Private schools

  • Decatur Christian Schools[55] (mascot: Warrior)

  • Holy Family Catholic School[56] (mascot: Knight)

  • Lutheran School Association of Decatur[57] (mascot: Lion)

  • Our Lady of Lourdes School[58] (mascot: Lancer)

  • St. Patrick School[59] (mascot: Eagle)

  • St. Teresa High School [60] (Mascot: Bulldog)



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. The Decatur Park District[61] resources include 2,000 acres (810 ha) of park land, an indoor sports center,[62] Decatur Airport, three golf courses, softball, soccer and tennis complexes, athletic fields, a community aquatic center, an AZA-accredited zoo, and a banquet, food and beverage business. Decatur was once dubbed "Park City USA" because it had more parks per person than any other city in the country, as well as "Playtown USA" because of Decatur's position as an early national leader in providing recreational space for its citizens. A motion picture short by that name was made in 1944 that featured the city's recreational efforts.[63]



Decatur Airport is served by daily commercial flights on Cessna 402 Airplanes to and from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and Chicago-O'Hare International Airport by Cape Air.


For more than 100 years, Decatur has been a major railroad junction and was once served by seven railroads. After mergers and consolidations, it is now served by two Class I railroads: the Norfolk Southern Railway, and the Canadian National Railway. The city is also served by Decatur Junction Railway, Decatur Central Railroad and Decatur and Eastern Illinois Railroad shortlines.


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.

Public transportation

Trolley transfer station in its original location at the intersection of Main and Main streets; from a postcard sent in 1906

Trolley transfer station in its original location at the intersection of Main and Main streets; from a postcard sent in 1906

The Decatur Public Transit System (DPTS) provides fixed-route bus service as well as complementary door-to-door paratransit service for people with disabilities, 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.

State government facilities

Decatur Correctional Center, a prison for women, is in the city.


The city is named after War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur.[64][65]

Decatur is an affiliate of the U.S. Main Street program, in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Potawatomi Trail of Death passed through here in 1838.

Post No. 1 of the Grand Army of the Republic was founded by Civil War veterans in Decatur on April 6, 1866.

The Edward P. Irving House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright[66] and built in 1911, is located at #2 Millikin Place, Decatur. In addition, the Robert Mueller Residence, 1 Millikin Place,[67] and the Adolph Mueller Residence, 4 Millikin Place,[68][69] have been attributed to Wright's assistants Hermann V. von Holst and Marion Mahony.

Abraham Lincoln

Statue of Abraham Lincoln in downtown Decatur on the site of his first political speech. The plaque reads "Abraham Lincoln's first political speech: Lincoln mounted a stump by Harrell's Tavern facing this square and defended the Illinois Whig party candidates near this spot at age 21 in the summer of 1830"

Statue of Abraham Lincoln in downtown Decatur on the site of his first political speech. The plaque reads "Abraham Lincoln's first political speech: Lincoln mounted a stump by Harrell's Tavern facing this square and defended the Illinois Whig party candidates near this spot at age 21 in the summer of 1830"

Decatur was the first home in Illinois of Abraham Lincoln, who settled just west of Decatur with his family in 1830. At the age of 21, Lincoln gave his first political speech in Decatur about the importance of Sangamon River navigation that caught the attention of Illinois political leaders. As a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit, Lincoln made frequent stops in Decatur, and argued five cases in the log courthouse that stood on the corner of Main & Main Streets. The original courthouse is now on the grounds of the Macon County Historical Museum on North Fork Road. John Hanks, first cousin of Abe Lincoln, lived in Decatur.

On May 9 and 10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur. At this convention Lincoln received his first endorsement for President of the United States as "The Railsplitter Candidate." In commemoration of Lincoln's bicentennial, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on June 6 & 7, 2008.[70]

ADM scandals and corporate exit

In early November 1992, the high-ranking Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) executive Mark Whitacre confessed to an FBI agent that ADM executives, including Whitacre himself, had routinely met with competitors to fix the price of lysine, a food additive.

The lysine conspirators, including ADM, ultimately settled federal charges for more than $100 million. ADM also paid hundreds of millions of dollars ($400 million alone on the high fructose corn syrup class action case) to plaintiffs and customers that it stole from during the price-fixing schemes.[71][72][73][74] Furthermore, several Asian and European lysine and citric acid producers that conspired to fix prices with ADM paid criminal fines in the tens of millions of dollars to the U.S. government.[75] Several executives, including the vice chairman of ADM, served federal prison time.

The investigation and prosecution of ADM and some of its executives has been reported to be one of the "best documented corporate crimes in American history".[76] The events were the basis of a book named The Informant, and a film by the same name.

In 2013, ADM reported that some employees had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and ADM was fined 14 million U.S. dollars, but avoided criminal charges by self-reporting the foreign bribes.

In 2014, ADM moved its upper corporate management out of Decatur and established the new ADM World Headquarters in downtown Chicago.

Consecutive tornadoes

On April 18 and 19, 1996, the city was hit by tornadoes. On April 18, an F1 tornado hit the city's southeast side, followed by an F3 tornado the following evening on the northwest side. The two storms totaled approximately $10.5 million in property damage.[77]

Railcar explosion

On July 19, 1974, a tanker car containing isobutane collided with a boxcar in the Norfolk & Western railroad yard in the East End of Decatur. The resulting explosion killed seven people, injured 349, and caused $18 million in property damage.[78]

Jesse Jackson protest

In November 1999, Decatur was brought into the national news when Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protested the expulsion and treatment of several African American students who had been involved in a serious fight at an Eisenhower High School football game.[79]

Notable people

  • William C. Chynoweth (1861–1935), Illinois state representative[80]

  • David M. Peters Jr. (1911–1956), Illinois state representative and sheriff[81]

  • Willis R. Shaw (1860–1933), Illinois state senator[82]


  • Decatur is mentioned in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is mentioned that he lives west of Decatur, as well as hunting the streets of Decatur for a vampire.

  • Decatur was studied by sociologists Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz for mass media studies, in "Personal Influence: the Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications", 1955.[83]


  • "Decatur, Or, Round of Applause For Your Step Mother!" is a song by Sufjan Stevens on his album Illinois. The song refers to several locations and events associated with Decatur, including the Caterpillar factory, Greenwood cemetery, the chicken mobile from Krekel's, strong historical ties to Abraham Lincoln, and the Sangamon River.[84]

  • Steve Hunter included two guitar instrumental pieces on his 1977 album Swept Away: "Eldorado Street" and "Jasper St. Viaduct Gitar Rag".

  • Canadian folk singer Willie P. Bennett wrote a song titled "Hearts in Decatur" which he performed live but never recorded.[85]

  • There is a song titled "Decatur" by the indie rock band Seam.[86]

  • The alternative metal, pop punk, electronic rock band Icon For Hire formed there in 2007.

  • The alternative metal band V Shape Mind formed there in 1999.

  • The song 40 Boys in 40 Nights by The Donnas mentions that there are no cute boys in Decatur.


  • The 1948 Jimmy Stewart film Call Northside 777 mentions a character in the film going down to Decatur.

  • In the 1971 film Shaft, Lt. Androzzi informs Shaft that one of the mob bigwigs coming to the city is from Decatur.

  • In the 1984 film Bachelor Party, Tom Hanks croons that he is from Decatur, Illinois.

  • In the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Cameron mentions his mother is in Decatur to buy antiques.

  • In the 1992 adaptation of Noises Off it is mentioned that one of the play's performances takes place in Decatur.

  • In the 1993 film So I Married an Axe Murderer, a map of Illinois with Decatur featured prominently is displayed in the background behind Harriet (played by Nancy Travis) in the film's closing scenes.

  • In the 2008 film Leatherheads starring George Clooney, there is a scene where a man and woman are sitting in the stands at a football game. The woman asks "how owning a football team will help sell corn starch?", then the camera pans the scoreboard and reveals that one of the teams is Decatur.

  • The Informant! is a 2009 film about the Archer Daniels Midland lysine scandal. It is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Matt Damon as the informant Mark Whitacre.

Professional wrestling

  • In the World Wrestling Federation, Decatur ("Decay-tur") was billed as the hometown of the evil dentist Isaac Yankem.[87]


  • In the 1960s TV series The Fugitive, the season two, episode nine entitled "Escape into Black", and airing November 17, 1964, takes place in Decatur.

  • On Comedy Central's television show The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert mentions Decatur and its slogan "We like it here" during his segment "Better Know a District", episode 47, Season 3, Phil Hare.

  • The Lincoln Square Theater located on Main Street in Decatur was featured on Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America.

  • True Life: "I'm Addicted To Caffeine" was filmed in Decatur.[88]

  • In the 1980s TV sitcom ALF; in one episode ALF asks Harry where he is from; he replies "Decatur, Illinois."


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