DeKalb is a city in DeKalb County, Illinois, United States. The population was 43,862 according to the 2010 census, up from 39,018 at the 2000 census. The city is named after decorated Franconian-French war hero Johann de Kalb, who died during the American Revolutionary War.
Founded in 1856, DeKalb became important in the development and manufacture of barbed wire, especially for agriculture and raising livestock. While agricultural related industries remain a facet of the city, together with health and services, the city's largest employer in the 21st century is Northern Illinois University, founded in 1895. About 50 miles from Chicago, DeKalb is part of the Chicago metropolitan area.
DeKalb was originally called Huntley's Grove, and under the latter name was platted in 1853. The name is for Baron Johann de Kalb, a major general in the American Revolutionary War. A post office has been in operation at DeKalb since 1849. The development of barbed wire is key in the history of DeKalb.