North Platte is a railroad town, today served only by freight trains, but during World War II was famous for the North Platte Canteen. Tens of thousands of volunteers from North Platte and surrounding towns meet the troop trains passing through North Platte, offering coffee, sandwiches and hospitality.
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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.4 km² (10.6 mi²). 27.1 km² (10.5 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.04% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 23,878 people, 9,944 households, and 6,224 families residing in the city. The population density is 880.5/km² (2,281.5/mi²). There are 10,718 housing units at an average density of 395.2/km² (1,024.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 93.47% White, 0.71% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 3.30% from other races, and 1.45% from two or more races. 6.68% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 9,944 households out of which 31.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% are married couples living together, 9.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% are non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.34 and the average family size is 2.97.
In the city the population is spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $34,181, and the median income for a family is $42,753. Males have a median income of $36,445 versus $20,157 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,306. 10.5% of the population and 7.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 13.2% are under the age of 18 and 9.8% are 65 or older.