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Rantoul is a village in Champaign County, Illinois, United States. The population was 12,941 at the 2010 census. The current mayor is Chuck Smith, who was elected in 2013. The community was named after Robert Rantoul, Jr., a U.S. representative from Massachusetts, and a director of the Illinois Central Railroad.
Rantoul was laid out in 1854 for the Illinois Central Railroad by John Penfield. A post office was established in 1856 as Rantoul Station; the name was changed to Rantoul in May 1862.
In 1917, Rantoul was chosen by the United States Army to be the site of Chanute Field, due to its proximity to the Illinois Central railroad and the War Department’s ground school at the University of Illinois. In the 1930s, Chanute Field grew, dominating the local economy as thousands of airmen were stationed there to train recruits. Renamed Chanute Air Force Base after World War II, it was closed in 1993, but was partly reoccupied by the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum , which was permanently closed on December 30, 2015, and the Rantoul National Aviation Center. Rantoul's economy has taken a sharp decline due to the base's closing, from which it has never recovered. The book Eye of the Storm: Chanute Closes by Katy B. Podagrosi tells the story of this period.
Rantoul is located at 40°18′17″N 88°9′7″W (40.304600, -88.152070).
According to the 2010 census, Rantoul has a total area of 8.259 square miles (21.39 km2), of which 8.15 square miles (21.11 km2) (or 98.68%) is land and 0.109 square miles (0.28 km2) (or 1.32%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,857 people, 5,330 households, and 3,367 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,776.5 people per square mile (685.7/km²). There were 6,161 housing units at an average density of 851.3 per square mile (328.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 76.69% White, 16.88% African American, 0.47% Native American, 1.75% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 3.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.69% of the population.
There were 5,330 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the village, the population was spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $36,904, and the median income for a family was $43,543. Males had a median income of $32,440 versus $22,382 for females. The per capita income for the village was $17,948. About 8.5% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.7% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Rantoul. Amtrak Train 391, the southbound Saluki, is scheduled to depart Rantoul at 11:10am daily with service to Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Du Quoin, and Carbondale. Amtrak Train 393, the southbound Illini, is scheduled to depart Rantoul at 6:00pm daily serving the same points as the southbound Saluki. Amtrak Train 390, the northbound Saluki, is scheduled to depart Rantoul at 10:27am daily with service to Gilman, Kankakee, Homewood, and Chicago. Amtrak Train 887, the northbound Illini, is scheduled to depart Rantoul at 7:02pm daily serving the same points as the northbound Saluki.
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