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Peru is a city located in La Salle County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 9,835, making it the largest community in the Illinois Valley area.
Peru is located at 41°20'4" North, 89°7'39" West (41.334458, -89.127385).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 km2 (6.1 mi2). 15.4 km2 (5.9 mi2) of it is land and 0.3 km2 (0.1 mi2) of it is water. The total area is 1.82% water.
Located on the Illinois River, Peru lies at the confluence of two major interstate highways: Interstate 39 and Interstate 80. The city is also the Western terminus of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal. Starved Rock State Park, a regional tourist attraction, is located 5 miles south-east of the community.
The city's first settler was John Hays, in about 1830. It became a successful river port, but, with the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, it was soon replaced as a port by La Salle. After the closing of the Illinois & Michigan canal, Peru returned to its state as a busy river port.
The city was organized as a borough in 1838, and was officially incorporated as a city on March 13, 1851.
The City is the birthplace and hometown of world renowned violinist Maud Powell, who was born on 1112 Bluff Street, where the 251 bridge currently stands. The City was home to Turn Hall, which was the location of Maud Powell's first performance.
The city was also the world headquarters of Westclox clock company. When Westclox closed, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, the population fell. The city is also the headquarters for Maze Lumber and Maze Nails. The city was also home to Star Union Brewery, which closed in 1963 when it was bought out by Canadian Ace. The city also was home to James Barton, the inventor of the polygon mill, which stood in the south eastern section of town between 12 street, and Pulaski. Barton's home, which was called by local residents the "castle" due to its stone central turrent, was ajacent to the mill, and still stands today.
The area's coal deposits helped make Peru a zinc manufacturing center in its early history (the manufacture of zinc requires large amounts of coal). Originally zinc ore was brought down from Galena, Illinois by route of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In terms of transportation cost, Peru was the closest point to the Galena mines with readily available coal.
In recent years, Peru has evolved into a regional commercial center, boasting a 50-store shopping mall (the largest within 55 miles) as well as several other national retailers. The area has also enjoyed the arrival of several small industrial/manufacturing firms. The completion of Interstate 39 in the early 1990s helped foster much of this new growth, making the city especially attrative to prospective distribution centers.
Peru is home to Carus Publishing Company, publisher of Cricket magazine, and to the offices of Carus Chemical Company, the largest manufacturer of potassium permanganate in the world.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,835 people, 4,143 households, and 2,672 families residing in the city. The population density was 639.3/km2 (1,655.5/mi2). There were 4,413 housing units at an average density of 286.8/km2 (742.8/mi2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.47% White, 0.32% African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.11% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.16% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. 4.08% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,143 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 21.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,060, and the median income for a family was $48,180. Males had a median income of $39,722 versus $21,961 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,658. 7.5% of the population and 4.8% of families were below the poverty line. 12.8% of those under the age of 18 and 4.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.