Dekalb rests some fifty miles from Downtown Chicago, along the I-88 corridor. The region was first settled around the 1820s and Dekalb planted its roots thirty years later. The economy back then was mostly centered around agriculture, but then industry came along to change things. Today Dekalb is a thriving university town with plenty of commerce and recreation for families. It doesn't hurt that the city still enjoys close proximity to Chicago and suburbs along the way. Dekalb has a rich history dating back to the mid 1900s. The inventor of barb wire lived and grew his industry in Dekalb, forever imprinting the tattoo of barbed wire across the city's legacy. Today, the University of Northern Illinois takes up the largest portion of employment in the city, with light industry taking a seat behind it. The University features great journalism, business, nursing, and computer related majors. Over the years, it has an admirable academic reputation. Northern Illinois University is the second largest university in the state of Illinois, behind the University of Illinois. The campus is rather large and contains about two thirds the population of Dekalb. The student body hovers around 24,000 students while the population of Dekalb hits a bit above the 45,000 mark.
As one can imagine, the community and campus have a very thin line. Many consider all of Dekalb to be part of the university, as so much of the activities and student body have taken over the city, in a good way. This has led to more extensive research opportunities, commerce, and recreational fun for area citizens. The city enjoys a bustling economy largely due to the university, but also due to the ingenuity of Dekalb residents. Small businesses have thrived in the community for generations and will likely continue to in the coming years. The restaurants present plenty of alternatives to the chain establishments that have also taken root in Dekalb. One only has to look around the corner to find a sandwich, steak, or pizza that meets their particular tastes. Dekalb has grown from its humble agricultural roots to become a thriving college town. The city will always be remembered for barbed wire -- some may even consider it Dekalb's greatest contribution to society, while others simply see it as a turning point. Today there are plenty of small businesses keeping the industry and dream for commercial success alive in Dekalb. Northern Illinois University has brought a lot to the city of Dekalb, including all the entertainment, academia, and employment opportunity a medium sized city like Dekalb needs to remain stable.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan