Harvard, Illinois

Harvard is a city located in McHenry County, Illinois. The population was 9,469 at the 2020 census.[3] The city is 63 miles from the Chicago Loop and it is the last stop on the Union Pacific/Northwest Line.

Harvard, Illinois
People gathered for the Harvard, Illinois Milk Days Parade. June 2, 2007
People gathered for the Harvard, Illinois Milk Days Parade. June 2, 2007
Success Comes Naturally Here
Location of Harvard in McHenry County, Illinois.
Location of Harvard in McHenry County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 42°25′36″N 88°37′22″W / 42.42667°N 88.62278°W / 42.42667; -88.62278Coordinates: 42°25′36″N 88°37′22″W / 42.42667°N 88.62278°W / 42.42667; -88.62278
CountryUnited States
TownshipsChemung, Dunham, Alden
FoundedFebruary 28, 1867
 • MayorMichael Kelly
 • Total8.36 sq mi (21.64 km2)
 • Land8.36 sq mi (21.64 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
922 ft (281 m)
 • Total9,469
 • Density1,133.33/sq mi (437.58/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area codes815, 779
FIPS code17-33331
Wikimedia CommonsHarvard, Illinois


Looking southwest on Ayer Street. Downtown Harvard, Illinois
Statue of Harmilda the cow, commemorating Milk Days

The original owners of the land which came to be Harvard, Illinois, were Abram Carmack and Jacob Davis, who obtained it from the government in 1845 and sold it to Gilbert Brainard shortly afterward. Upon Gilbert Brainard's death, the land was purchased by Amos Page, Otis Eastman, and Elbridge Gerry Ayer. These three men planned the layout of the town and named it "Harvard" in honor of Harvard, Massachusetts. The plat was signed by Judge J. M. Strode in Woodstock, Illinois, on November 25, 1856. Shortly afterward Amos Page and Otis Eastman sold their shares of the property to Elbridge Gerry Ayer. Mr.Ayer's involvement came out of his business interest in the extension of the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company railroad west from Cary, toward Janesville, Wisconsin. The newly platted town of Harvard was located directly on the route of the extension, and in April 1856 the railroad accepted Ayer's offer of land to build a station in the town.[4]

In 1856 Mr. Wesley Diggins built a hotel for Mr. H. C. Blackman, who sold it to Mr. Elbridge Gerry Ayer in 1859. Mr. Ayer built additional floors to raise it to a height of three stories and added a wing and a veranda. During the Civil War, sick and wounded soldiers passing through Harvard were lodged at the hotel with no charge for their meals. In 1925 the Ayer Hotel was purchased by Mr. S. J. Noble and renamed the Noble Hotel. When he could not maintain mortgage payments it was purchased in 1937 by Mr. P. G. Allen and renamed the Hub Hotel. The building was destroyed in a fire on December 22, 1960.

As railroad employment expanded, Harvard's population grew. On April 18, 1869, voters incorporated the community and elected Elbridge Gerry Ayer as the first village president.[5] The first ordinance adopted required every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 18 and 60 to perform one day of labor for the town.

Harvard was turned from a town into a city when citizens voted to do so (with a vote of 550 to 5) on April 6, 1891. With this change, Harvard was no longer a town administered by a village president. It became a city administered by a mayor.

Motorola opened a 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2) mobile telephone manufacturing and distribution facility on Harvard's north side in 1997. The plant employed more than 5,000 at its peak. However, a combination of factors, including a significant decline in Motorola's business in the early 2000s, compelled the company to shutter the facility in 2003.[6][7] On August 13, 2008, the 1.5 million square foot facility was sold to Optima International's[a] Optima Ventures, LLC[b] a Miami-based real estate investment firm led by Chaim Schochet and 2/3rd owned by the Ihor Kolomoyskyi associated Privat Group, one of Ukraine's largest business and banking groups holding 33% of the individual deposits and accounting for 25% of Ukraine's banking sector from 2003 to 2016.[12][c][d] In 2016, Xiao Hua "Edward" Gong, who was born in China but resides in Toronto, purchased the former Motorola plant but, in December 2017, prosecutors in Canada and New Zealand alleged that the plant was part of a money laundering scheme and fraud involving Chinese citizens purchasing securities valued at hundreds of millions of dollars and supported by firms in New Zealand.[17][21]

In 2006, Harvard held a year-long Sesquicentennial Celebration.[22] The Greater Harvard Area Historical Society is located on Hart Street. The society identifies and marks historical sites in the area. It also works to obtain histories of Harvard families, businesses, and farms that have been in operation for more than 100 years.

Harvard is the self-proclaimed Milk Capital of the World and hosts one of the longest-running festivals in Illinois, Harvard Milk Days, the first weekend of June to commemorate their contributions to milk production during WWII.

A symbol of the Milk Days Festival, the statue of a cow, Harmilda, "stands 5 feet tall, 8 feet long, and weighs about 125 pounds."[23]


According to the 2010 census, Harvard has a total area of 8.58 square miles (22.22 km2), all land.[24]

Major streetsEdit

  • Airport Road
  • Ayer Street
  •   Diggins Street/Brink Street
  •   Division Street
  • Flat Iron Road
  • Lawrence Road
  •   Marengo Street
  • Oak Grove Road
  • Ramer Road


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[25]
2010[26] 2020[27]

2020 censusEdit

Harvard, Illinois - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race Pop 2010[26] Pop 2020[27] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 4,901 3,885 51.88% 41.03%
Black or African American (NH) 64 55 0.68% 0.58%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 16 4 0.17% 0.04%
Asian (NH) 63 75 0.67% 0.79%
Pacific Islander (NH) 0 0 0.00% 0.00%
Some Other Race (NH) 12 17 0.13% 0.18%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 121 219 1.28% 2.31%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 4,270 5,214 45.20% 55.06%
Total 9,447 9,469 100.00% 100.00%

2000 CensusEdit

As of the census[28] of 2000, there were 7,996 people, 2,610 households, and 1,853 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,498.2 inhabitants per square mile (578.5/km2). There were 2,723 housing units at an average density of 510.2 per square mile (197.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 76.25% White, 0.85% African American, 0.38% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 18.76% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 37.81% of the population.

There were 2,610 households, out of which 39.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 53.8% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families; 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.05 and the average family size was 3.56.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 30.1% under the age of 18, 12.7% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 107.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,363, and the median income for a family was $48,087. Males had a median income of $30,578 versus $23,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,253. About 6.9% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.2% of those under age 18 and 1.2% of those age 65 or over.


Active congregations are listed in the table.


Historic Central School, Harvard, Illinois

Harvard School District No. 50 operates five schools within the city:

  • Harvard High School: grades 9-12
  • Harvard Junior High School: grades 6-8
  • Jefferson Elementary School: grades 4 and 5
  • Richard B. Crosby Elementary School: grades K-3
  • Washington School: Pre-K and ECE

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford operated one school in Harvard, St. Joseph's School: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grades 1–8. The school was closed at the end of the 2015–16 school year, due to financial issues.[29]

Harvard Diggins LibraryEdit

Harvard Diggins Library began serving the Harvard community in 1909. Delos F. Diggins, who spent his childhood in Harvard, provided a generous bequest to the City of Harvard for the purpose of building a library. That building, named the Delos F. Diggins Library, became the first free-standing public library in McHenry County. The library served the community successfully from that building until a new library was built in 2001. In deference to the lasting legacy of Delos Diggins, the library was renamed the Harvard Diggins Library. Currently, Harvard Diggins Library is a member of the Northern Illinois Cooperative consortium and the Reaching Across Illinois Library System.

The Harvard Diggins Library building encompasses 19,000 square feet of space. The core of the facility houses the collection, but designated space is available for children, teens, quiet study, and meeting space. Public events are hosted at the library on a regular basis, including lectures, performers, crafts, storytimes, and more. As a municipal library, library cards are free to city residents, and it allows borrowing of materials from most public libraries in Illinois. Non-residents may purchase a card for an annual fee.[30]

Post officeEdit

Harvard, Illinois Post Office.

The U.S. Post Office is located on Harvard's North Eastman Street. The current building was constructed during the Kennedy Administration in 1962 when J. Edward Day was the Postmaster General.

Law enforcementEdit

The Harvard Police Department is located in the lower level of the old City Hall building at 201 W. Front Street. It consists of 17 full-time police officers, led by Chief of Police Tyson Bauman, a full-time record clerk and one full-time community services officer (CSO). Dispatch services are provided by the North East Regional Communications Center, also known as NERCOM, of which the department is a founding and partner member and is located in McHenry Illinois. The department has a full-time detective, a school resource officer, bicycles for officers to patrol the city streets, parks and downtown area.[31]

Fire protectionEdit

Harvard's Fire Protection District consists of 47 trained firefighters, of which 22 are Emergency medical technicians and 14 are paramedics. The district traces its history to 1865 when five men got together to purchase a fire engine for the village of Harvard. In 1871, the engine was sent to Chicago via the railroad to assist in the Great Chicago Fire. In 1892, it was again placed on a train to assist with a fire in the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin. In 1899, the first constitution and by-laws were drawn up for the Harvard Fire Department. The Harvard Rescue Squad was founded in 1956 with a $7000 donation from the Harvard Jaycees. In 1971, the City and Rural Fire Department merged to form the Harvard Fire Protection District.[32]

Currently, the Harvard Fire Protection District is governed by a five-member board of trustees appointed by the McHenry County Board. While the Fire District works very closely with the city of Harvard, it is a separate government agency. The district provides fire and emergency medical service for 108 square miles (280 km2) and is funded by ambulance user fees and property taxes. It is part of the Mercy Health EMS System, which operates out of Mercy Health Javon Bea Hospital in Rockford, IL, a Level I trauma hospital. The district also has a SCUBA dive team, trained for water rescue. This team is part of the McHenry County MABAS 5 Dive Team.


U.S. Route 14, locally known as the Northwest Highway and Division Street, runs north–south through Harvard. Illinois Route 23 begins in southern Harvard and connects the city with other locations to the south. Illinois Route 173 also runs east–west through Harvard, and it connects many other towns along the Wisconsin border to Harvard. The nearest Interstate Highway to Harvard is Interstate 90 in Belvidere; Interstate 39 in Machesney Park is also nearby, as is Interstate 43 in Wisconsin.

Harvard is also served by multiple forms of public transportation. Pace operates Route 808 in Harvard. This route links the city to the communities of Woodstock and Crystal Lake. Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest Line has a station in Harvard and operates daily service to Chicago's Ogilvie Transportation Center. The Harvard station is the most remote point in the Metra system at 63.16 miles (101.65 km) from downtown Chicago.[33]


Harvard is served by WHIW-LP 101.3 FM, Harvard Community Radio. A low-power FM station, WHIW-LP began broadcasting on the FM frequency on May 18, 2015. Prior to May 2015, the station was heard at AM 1610. WHIW-LP also streams online.

WHIW-LP provides local programming including news, sports, school, music, arts and more. WHIW is an all-volunteer community radio station that depends on the support of it listeners and station underwriters. The station received its 501(c)(3) exempt status in 2013.

Harvard once had a daily newspaper, the Harvard Herald, which was published from 1887 until 1986. In September 2009, a new monthly publication, the Harvard Main Line, was launched.[34] The city is also served by the Northwest Herald, which covers all of McHenry County.

Notable peopleEdit

  • John Hughes (1950-2009) - Writer Director: Known for several films including Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mordechai Korf and Uriel Lader founded Optima International of Miami in 1994 and Optima Ventures, LLC, is one firm in the Optima Family.[8]
  2. ^ The Optima Family had an Optima Harvard Facility LLC account.[9][10][11]
  3. ^ When PrivatBank was nationalized in 2016, Ihor Kolomoyskyi held 80% of PrivatBank's loan portfolio with almost none of the loans backed with collateral. The IMF loans to Ukraine were paying for Kolomoyskyi, seven of his friends and two of their subordinates and their company's problematic loans. On February 14, 2017, their companies were liquidated. The alleged nominal owners for the beneficial ownership of Kolomoyskyi were Viktor Shkindel, Ihor Malanchak and Ivan Makoviichuk, who owned eight Kharkiv firms, and Viacheslav Plakasov, who was the CEO of Optima 770, Volodymyr Golovko, who is a manager in Kolomoyskyi's oil refinery, Serhiy Kazarov, who is the head of the fuel supplier Tsyurupinskiy Agropostach, Vitaly Nemov, who is a manager of a gas station for Avias and owns Olymp Oil, Vadim Andreyuk, who owned three Kharkiv firms, and Anatoliy Derkach, who is a taxi driver that owns Avaris.[13][14][15][16]
  4. ^ On August 6, 2020, the United States Department of Justice in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) alleged that Ihor Kolomoisky, Gennadiy Boholiubov, Mordechai Korf, and Uriel Lader collectively obtained the factory as part of a $5.5 billion Ponzi scheme as "an international conspiracy to launder money embezzled and fraudulently obtained from PrivatBank," which was nationalized in 2016 to prevent a collapse of Ukraine's equivalent to the United States' FDIC, and using PrivatBank's "Cyprus branch... as a washing machine for the stolen loan funds."[17][18][19][20]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: City of Harvard
  3. ^ "Harvard city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  4. ^ Harvard - 150 Years, 1856-2006, Harvard Sesquicentennial Committee May 2006
  5. ^ "Harvard, IL". www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
  6. ^ Happy end for Harvard? | Northwest Herald[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Wiant, Jenn (August 15, 2008). "Motorola building sold to unknown buyers". Northwest Herald. Archived from the original on August 16, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  8. ^ "Privat Ponzie". Department of Justice: Southern District of Florida. August 6, 2020. pp. 19–23. Retrieved March 23, 2022. See note on page 32 for the account Optima Harvard Facility LLC. See paragraphs 88 and 89.
  9. ^ Starks, Carolyn; Long, Jeff (August 15, 2008). "Motorola campus in Harvard has a buyer - Miami-based real estate investment firm looking at plans to lease shuttered facility". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 13, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  10. ^ Adkins, Lenore T. (August 14, 2008). "Miami firm buys former Motorola plant in Harvard". Daily Herald. Archived from the original on May 19, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  11. ^ "Former Motorola campus in Harvard, Illinois sells for $9.3M on Ten-X". rejournals.com. April 1, 2017. Archived from the original on March 23, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  12. ^ Jarboe McFee, Michelle (February 4, 2012). "The most important guy you've never heard of: Chaim Schochet, 25, builds downtown Cleveland empire". The Plain Dealer (cleveland.com). Cleveland, Ohio. Archived from the original on March 23, 2022. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ukrainas valdība nacionalizējusi "PrivatBank"" [Ukrainian government has nationalized «PrivatBank»]. LSM.LV (in Latvian). Reuters. 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 23 December 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Перед націоналізацією з "ПриватБанку" вивели десятки мільярдів гривень на фірми-бульбашки: СХЕМИ" [Before nationalization, tens of billions of hryvnias were transferred from PrivatBank to bubble firms: SCHEMES]. Radio Free Europe (in Ukrainian). May 11, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  15. ^ "Kolomoisky's Billion Dollar Friends: Before nationalization Ihor Kolomoisky's PrivatBank lended over a billion dollars to companies belonging to his top lieutenants and two of their subordinates. Here's how much they received". СТРАНА.ua. June 6, 2017. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  16. ^ Stack, Graham (June 5, 2017). "Ukraine's Top Bank Lent Owner's Lieutenants $1 Billion Before Nationalization". OCCRP. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Michel, Casey (October 17, 2021). "A Ukrainian Oligarch Bought a Midwestern Factory and Let it Rot. What Was Really Going On?: U.S. prosecutors say the decaying plant was part of a broader scheme to hide millions in stolen dollars across the American Midwest". Politico. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  18. ^ Woo-Sung, Shim (October 23, 2021). "'Pandora Papers' show corruption, money laundering behind the former Motorola property in Harvard". Lake McHenry Scanner. Archived from the original on March 23, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  19. ^ "Privat Ponzie". Department of Justice: Southern District of Florida. August 6, 2020. pp. 6, 12 and 18. Retrieved March 23, 2022. Using Korf and Laber's network, Kolomoisky and Boholiubov spent prolifically: they purchased more than five million square feet of commercial real estate in Ohio, steel plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Michigan, a cellphone manufacturing plant in Illinois, and commercial real estate in Texas, among others. See paragraphs 21, 47, and 82.
  20. ^ Stack, Graham (April 19, 2017). "Oligarchs Weaponized Cyprus Branch of Ukraine's Largest Bank to Send $5.5 Billion Abroad". OCCRP. Archived from the original on 23 March 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  21. ^ Gallun, Alby (August 2, 2019). "Why one far-flung suburb is fed up with this rogue developer: "It's almost as if the building is cursed."". Chicago Business. Archived from the original on March 24, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  22. ^ "harvard150.com". Archived from the original on 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
  23. ^ report, Carolyn Starks, Tribune staff reporter Freelance reporter Tim Kane contributed to this. "No one messes with Harmilda". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  24. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  25. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  26. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Harvard, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  27. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Harvard, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  28. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  29. ^ Prokop, Hannah (March 4, 2016). "St. Joseph School in Harvard to Close by End of Year, Rockford Diocese Says". Northwest Herald. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  30. ^ Harvard Diggins Library
  31. ^ "CITY OF HARVARD | Police Department". Archived from the original on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-02-01.
  32. ^ Harvard Fire Protection District
  33. ^ Metra Railfan Tips - Union Pacific/Northwest Line
  34. ^ "Harvard Main Line".
  35. ^ 'Jonathan J. Smith-obituary,' Barron County Shield, January 4, 1917

External linksEdit