A picturesque Midwestern college town, Decatur is located in the heart of central Illinois, in the Interior Plains region of the continent. With a city population of about 76,199, Decatur is home to award-winning institutions of higher learning, the private Millikin University and the public Richard Community College.
Decatur offers both an affordable cost of living and quality housing, with a wide array of employment options ranging from manufacturing to service to hi-tech. As a world leader in the production of ethanol and other biofuels, “the fuels of the future,” Decatur is home to such trend-setting businesses as agribusiness conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland Co. (and its groundbreaking geological carbon sequestration program), Tate and Lyle, and a division of global mining equipment maker Caterpillar Inc.
Known as the “soybean capital of the world,” Decatur is the largest city and is that county seat of Macon County. The city covers 45.9 square-miles. Founded in 1823, the city of Decatur stretches along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur. The city’s motto is “We like it here,” which surplants the town’s old motto, “The pride of the prairie.” The most notable resident of Decatur was the “Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, who settled west of town with his family in 1830. Musicians John Doe, Alison Krauss and Boots Randolph all called Decatur home.
With tree-lined streets and 2,000 acres of parks and recreational areas, Decatur also boasts a multi-million dollar downtown renovation in progress of the Lincoln Square Theater, the Avon Theater, and the Avon Twins. The city hosts more than 130 festivals annually, including the Lakeside Music and Arts Festival, the Decatur Celebration, Illinois’s giant family-friendly street festival, and the “Super bowl” of agricultural exhibitions.
Decatur was awarded the All-American City status in 1960.
Written by Kathleen Cooney