Calumet City, Illinois

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Calumet City is a city in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 39,072 at the 2000 census. The ZIP code is 60409.

Calumet City (commonly referred to locally as "Cal City" or "Wild Cal"[citation needed]) was founded in 1892 when the villages of Schrumville and Sobieski Park merged under the name of West Hammond, since it lies on the west side of the Illinois-Indiana border from Hammond, Indiana. In 1924, West Hammond officially changed its name to Calumet City.

In addition to being bordered to the east by Hammond, it is also bordered by Burnham and Chicago to the north, Lansing to the south, and South Holland and Dolton to the west.


The First World War

When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, patriotic fervor led to many young men enlisting in the armed forces, and nowhere was that patriotism greater than in West Hammond, which saw a larger percentage of its population, per capita, enlist than any other community in the nation. Even many members of the town's sizable German population signed up for the military to fight the Central Powers. A bronze plaque bearing the names of every citizen who served in the war was dedicated at West Hammond's Memorial Park in 1922.

"Sin City"

With the onset of prohibition in 1919, West Hammond/Calumet City quickly became known for something other than its patriotism. Bootleggers found local officials and police willing to turn a blind eye, and the town became a magnet for speakeasies, gambling, and prostitution. A multitude of illegal nightclubs sprang up throughout the town, and were particularly concentrated on a stretch of State Street that quickly became known regionally and, eventually, nationally as "The Strip," just as Calumet City was dubbed the original American "Sin City." With the repeal of the Volstead Act and the return of legal liquor in 1933, Calumet City's speakeasies converted into lawful nightclubs, many of them owned or influenced by organized crime elements from Chicago (including Al Capone, who owned a "getaway" home in Calumet City). Clubs, saloons and taverns continued to prosper in Calumet City, and a new record was set when it was determined that the town had more liquor licenses per capita than any other community in the nation. Many of the clubs featured Las Vegas-style showgirl revues, as well as such marquee talent as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Keith Speaks, and Gypsy Rose Lee. Life magazine dubbed the town the "Barbary Coast of the Midwest".

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