- Cairo, Illinois
name = Cairo
category = City
image_caption = The massive gate that closes the town's protective levee is visible behind the railroad bridge
country = United States
state = Illinois
region = Alexander
region_type = County
elevation_imperial = 315
lat_d = 37
lat_m = 0
lat_s = 47
lat_NS = N
long_d = 89
long_m = 10
long_s = 49
long_EW = W
coordinates_no_title = 1
area_imperial = 9.1
population = 3632
population_date = 2000
population_density = 198.9
established = 1858
mayor = Judson Childs
leader_type = Mayor
timezone = CST
utc_offset = -6
timezone_DST = CDT
utc_offset_DST = -5
postal_code = 62914
area_code = 618
map_caption = Location of Cairo within Illinois
map_background = Illinois - background map.png
map_locator = Illinois2
commons = Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is a city in Alexander County,
Illinoisin the United States. The population was 3,632 at the 2000 census. It is the county seatof Alexander County. The city's name is /ˈkeɪɹoʊ/, (Kay-row) pronounced differently from the English name for the capital city of Egypt.
Cairo is located at the confluence of the
Mississippi Riverand the Ohio Riverand is the southernmost town in the state of Illinois. Cairo is one of the few towns in Illinois protected by a levee. The rivers converge at what is the southernmost point in Illinois at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil Warfort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant.
Cairo was founded by the Cairo City & Canal Company in 1837, and incorporated as a
cityin 1858. For 15 years the town grew slowly, but the sale of lots (commencing in 1853), and the completion of the Illinois Central Railroad, attracted settlers. By 1860, the population exceeded 2,000. It was an important steamboatport in the 19th century, with its own Customs Housedesigned by Alfred B. Mullet, the Supervising Architect during Reconstruction. One of only 7 of his Victorian structures remaining, it has since been converted into a museum.
During the Civil War, Cairo was a strategically important supply base and training center for the Union army. For several months both General Grant and Admiral Foote had headquarters here. The town has numerous fine examples of prosperous 19th and early 20th architecture, including the Italianate "Magnolia Manor" and Second Empire "Riverlore Mansion". Much of the city, even in some areas of decay, is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
With the decline in river trade, like many other river cities, the population of Cairo has declined from a 1920 high of 15,203 to 3,632 in 2000. There is a movement to stop this gradual abandonment, restore Cairo's architectural landmarks, develop tourism focusing on its history, and bring new opportunities back to the community.
Cairo was the scene of the circus-like
lynchingof the black resident Will James in front of a crowd of hundreds in 1909.
In 1969, Cairo was the site of an intense civil rights struggle to end segregation and create job opportunities at the local McDonald's. The threat of violence resulted in the National Guard being called in to restore order. The United Front civil rights organization led a decade-long
boycottof white-owned businesses -- meaning all of them. Its economy crippled, Cairo has emerged slowly from the contention.
The city today faces many significant socio-economic challenges for the remaining population, including poverty, issues in education, employment and rebuilding its tax base. A community clinic offers medical and dental care, and also several mental health services. Cairo’s turbulent history is chronicled on a concept music CD called "Greetings From Cairo,
Illinois", released in 2005 by musician Stace England.
Cairo is located at coor dms|37|0|47|N|89|10|49|W|city (37.01, -89.18).GR|1 The elevation above
sea levelis 315 feet (96 m).
According to the
United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.1 square miles (23.6 km²), including 2.1 square miles (5.4 km²) of water (22.78% of the total area). Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi Riverand Ohio River.
footnote= [http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/decennial/index.htm Decennial US Census] As of the
censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 3,632 people, 1,561 households, and 900 families residing in the city. The population densitywas 515.1 people per square mile (198.9/km²). There were 1,885 housing units at an average density of 103.2 per km² (267.3 per sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 35.93% White, 61.70% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races; 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,561 households out of which 30.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.3% were married couples living together, 25.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. Of all households, 39.7% are made up of individuals and 17.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.08.
The age distribution is 30.4% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there were 79.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $21,607, and the median income for a family was $28,242. Males had a median income of $28,798 versus $18,125 for females. The
per capita incomefor the city was $16,220. Of the population as a whole, 33.5% lives below the poverty line, as compared with 27.1% of families. Out of the total population, 47.0% of those under the age of 18 and 20.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
The city is served by
Cairo Unified School District 1. Based on Census estimates, the Cairo school district has the highest percentage in Illinois of children in poverty, 60.6%. It is 15th highest in the United States. [" [http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/734613,CST-NWS-poorskul10.article If you're poor, you have to work harder... nothing is fair] " "Chicago Sun Times", January 10, 2008]
The district has two elementary schools, Bennett Elementary School and Emerson Elementary School. Middle and high school students attend Cairo Junior/Senior High School.
Cairo's location on a spit of land that lies between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers made multiplexing US 51, 60 and 62 briefly through Illinois more practical than directly connecting
Missouriand Kentucky. The result of Cairo's position as a critical highway junction is that Missouri and Kentucky are the only states to border each other with no direct highway connection between them.
Cairo is mentioned in the book "
American Gods" by Neil Gaiman, and in a song by Josh Ritter called "Monster Ballads." Cairo is also mentioned in the Mark Twain novel, " The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".
Gracia Burnham, missionary
Chet Covington, baseball player
Charles Hayes, congressman
* John Healy, baseball player
* Rex Ingram, actor
Ted Joans, musician, poet and painter
Margaret Karcher, restaurateur
Ed Morgan, baseball player
Tyrone Nesby(AKA rapper T-Nes), basketball player
Mary J. Safford, schoolteacher and nurse
George "Harmonica" Smith, musician
Hudson Strode, author and professor
Napoleon B. Thistlewood, congressman
* Henry Townsend, musician
Richard W. Townshend, congressman
Donne Trotter, politician
Estelle Yancey, blues vocalist
Cairo had its own minor-league team (variously known as the Egyptians, Champions and Giants) in the
Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee Leaguefrom 1903-06, 1911-14 and 1922-24.
ites of interest
* Fort Defiance State Park
* [http://cinematreasures.org/theater/2668/ Gem Theatre]
* "The Hewer", a 1902
public sculptureby George Gray Barnard
* [http://www.southernmostillinoishistory.net/customhouse.htm Cairo Custom House & Post Office]
* "Magnolia Manor"
* [http://www.southernmostillinois.com/sites.php?function=view_rec&rID=5&id=1 "The Riverlore"]
* [http://www.pilotlight2000.com/historic/library.htm A. B. Safford Memorial Library]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/wi/wisconsin42nd/cairo.html History of Cairo, Illinois]
* [http://www.cairochamber.org/ Cairo Chamber of Commerce]
* [http://www.city-data.com/city/Cairo-Illinois.html City-Data.com - Cairo, Illinois]
* [http://www.pilotlight2000.com/ Pilot Light 2000 - site by Cairo high School alumni during 1960s]
* [http://www.siu.edu/~oerdsp/defiance.htm OERD Special Project/Fort Defiance Park - Southern Illinois University project about Fort Defiance]
* [http://users.stlcc.edu/jangert/cairo/cairo.html Information about Cairo, Illinois]
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