On November 7, 1837 abolitionist printer Elijah P. Lovejoy was shot to death by a mob of supporters of slavery while he was attempting to protect his Alton-based press from being destroyed a third time.
Alton was the hometown of Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest human recorded to date.
Alton was also the birthplace of jazz legend Miles Davis, who spent most of early childhood in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Alton is located at 38°54'2" North, 90°9'35" West (38.900438, -90.159844)1. This is on the Mississippi River above the mouth of the Missouri River. Most of Alton is located on bluffs overlooking the river valley.
As of the census of 2000, there are 30,496 people, 12,518 households, and 7,648 families residing in the city. The population density is 752.8/km² (1,949.3/mi²). There are 13,894 housing units at an average density of 343.0/km² (888.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 72.32% White, 24.72% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. 1.49% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 12,518 households out of which 29.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% are married couples living together, 17.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% are non-families. 33.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.36 and the average family size is 3.02.
In the city the population is spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $31,213, and the median income for a family is $37,910. Males have a median income of $33,083 versus $22,485 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,817. 18.7% of the population and 14.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 26.8% are under the age of 18 and 13.2% are 65 or older.