Aurora, Illinois

Aurora, Illinois

Infobox Settlement |official_name = City of Aurora, Illinois
nicknames = City of Lights
website =

map_caption = Location in Illinois
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = Counties
subdivision_type3 = Townships
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_name1 = Illinois
subdivision_name2 = Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will
subdivision_name3 = Aurora, Naperville, Wheatland, Sugar Grove, Batavia, Winfield, Oswego
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1835
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Tom Weisner (D)
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 102.1
area_land_km2 = 99.8
area_water_km2 = 2.3
population_as_of = 2007
population_total = 175952
population_density_km2 = 1432.9
demonum = Auroran
timezone = CST
utc_offset = -6
timezone_DST = CDT
utc_offset_DST = -5
elevation_m = 176 m - 224 (203)
elevation_ft =577 –735
footnotes =

Aurora is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois, with a population of 175,952 (2007 est.). Aurora lies within four counties: Kane, DuPage, Kendall, and Will. About 110,000 of the city's residents reside in Kane County, while about 42,000 live in DuPage County. Will and Kendall County together only account for a few thousand of Aurora's total population.The city refers to itself as "The City of Lights" because it was one of the first cities in Illinois to implement an all-electric street lighting system in 1881. Aurora officially adopted the nickname in 1908. [ [ Fun Aurora Facts] The Aurora Historical Society]


Before white settlers arrived, there was a Native American village in what is today downtown Aurora. In 1834, the McCarty brothers arrived and initially owned land on both sides of the river, but sold their lands on the west side, living and operating their mill on the east side. [ Encyclopedia of Chicago] ] Aurora was originally two villages: one on the East Side of the Fox River founded by the McCarty brothers and the West Side founded by the Lake brothers. A post office was established in 1837, officially creating Aurora. In 1857, Aurora (then what is now known as the East Side) joined with the West Side. [ [ Fun Aurora Facts-Aurora Historical Society] ] The Aurora Fire Department was established in 1856, and took ownership of its first fire engine that year. The two sides couldn’t agree on which side of the river should house the public buildings, so most public buildings were built on or around Stolp Island in the middle of the Fox River. (A parking garage stands at the site of the original City Hall and Post Office.)

As the city grew, many factories and jobs came to Aurora, along with many people. In 1856, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad located its railcar construction and repair shops in Aurora to become the town's largest employer until the 1960s. Many of the heavy industries were located on the East side which provided employment for four generations of European immigrants. Many immigrants flocked to the city, mainly from Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and Italy.The professional and managerial workers more likely came from Yankee stock and settled across the river, making the West side more affluent. Aurora became main economic center of the Fox Valley area. The combination of these three factors—a highly industrialized town, a sizable river that divided it, and the Burlington's shops—account for much of the dynamics of Aurora's political, economic, and social history. Both sides of Aurora still maintain a rivalry which is enacted through yearly high school football/basketball games. This is the oldest high school rivalry in the state of Illinois. [ [ Aurora Historical Society] ]

Beginning in the boom period, the town was inclusive and tolerant, and welcomed a variety of immigrants and openly supporting abolitionism prior to the American Civil War. Mexican migrants began arriving after 1910. Socially, the town was progressive in its attitude toward education, religion, welfare, and women. The first free public school district in Illinois was established in 1851 and a high school for girls four years later. By 1887, 20 congregations (including two African American churches) representing nine denominations were established, and a YWCA started in 1893, still in operation today.

The city was a manufacturing powerhouse until 1974, when the railroad shops began to close. Soon many other factories and industrial areas relocated or went out of business. By 1980, there were few operating industrial areas in the city, and unemployment soared to 16%. Although development of the Far East side at Fox Valley Mall brought stimulus, it helped lead to the decline of the downtown area on Stolp Island. Starting in the late 1980s, several business and industrial parks were established on the outskirts of the city. Today some of the old industrial districts have been reoccupied as warehouses. In 1993, a casino was built downtown, which brought redevelopment to the downtown area. In the late 1990s, more development began in the rural areas outside of Aurora. Subdivisions sprouted up all around the city; Aurora's population soared. Today, approximately 70,000 of the city's residents live in these areas of the city.


Aurora is on the edge of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor. The city has a long tradition of manufacturing, making it an industrial center that could stand alone, separate from Chicago. Prominent manufacturers, past and present, included: Lyon Workspace Products, The Aurora Silver Plate Manufacturing Company, Barber Greene Ltd., the Chicago Corset Company, the Aurora Brewing Company, Stephens-Adamson Company, Caterpillar Incorporated, Allsteel Metals, National Metalwares, and Western Wheeled Scraper Works (later Austin-Western Inc.). Olsson Roofing Company, Inc. was started in 1914 and is one of the oldest companies in the city. The most prominent employer and industry was the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad (later Burlington Northern) which was headquartered in Aurora. The CB&Q Roundhouse is still standing, and is now the popular restaurant Walter Payton’s Roundhouse.

Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Formed in 1987, the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (AACVB) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to aggressively promoting and marketing the area as a premier overnight destination. The goal of the AACVB is to enhance the economic and environmental well-being of a region comprising nine communities: Aurora, Batavia, Big Rock, Montgomery, North Aurora, Plano, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.


According to the United States Census, of Aurora's population over the age of twenty-five, 26% hold a bachelor's degree.

Two main school systems have served the Kane County, Illinois core location of Aurora, Illinois since the 1860s, one on either side of the Fox River which physically divides the city. In addition, the far eastern portion of Aurora, within DuPage County, Illinois, has been served by Indian Prairie School District (IPSD) 204 since that district's formation in 1972. All three of these districts (Aurora Public Schools: West Side (District 129), Aurora Public Schools: East Side (District 131) and IPSD) have their headquarters and administrative offices within the Aurora city limits. As of 2005 there will be no less than forty public schools within Aurora city limits, serving residents of Aurora and neighboring communities.

Due to the sheer size of the city of Aurora, these are not the only three school systems serving residents - some students in the far north end of the city (north of I88 in Kane County) attend Batavia, Illinois public schools, some on the far southwest side attend the Kaneland School district (headquartered in Maple Park, Illinois), and some students in the far south end of the city (Kendall and Will County portions) attend Oswego, Illinois public schools. 4 schools of Oswego School District #308, are located within Aurora's city limits.

Aurora is also home to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), a state-funded residential magnet school for grades 10 to 12. While IMSA operates under public funds (and uses the site originally designated West Aurora High School North Campus), it is managed wholly independently of the other public schools in the city of Aurora. Any Illinois student who meets admission requirements may apply to attend IMSA.

Aurora is also home to a few other private schools. Within Aurora there are three Roman Catholic High Schools- Aurora Central Catholic (Diocese of Rockford), Rosary (Diocese of Rockford), and Marmion Academy (Order of St. Benedict), and 7 Catholic elementary schools operated by the Diocese of Rockford. Along with these three schools is Aurora Christian High School and Elementary School.

The above-named districts have forty-six public schools within the city limits of Aurora (seventeen for District #131, thirteen for District #129, eleven for District #204, four for Oswego District #308 and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy). Aurora is also home to twenty-two private schools including Rasmussen College, 2 branches of the Waubonsee Community College, and the main campus of Aurora University.


The city is the location of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) and Aurora University. A non-profit organization Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple of Greater Chicago which is a major Hindu temple located near IMSA. Aurora also has its own zoo, Phillips Park Zoo. Aurora's downtown is full of architectural landmarks and historic places.


* Aurora Historical Society
* Aurora Regional Fire Museum
* The Aurora Public Arts Commission
* Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
* Phillips Park Zoo
* David L. Pierce Art and History Center
* SciTech Interactive Science Museum.

Downtown Aurora

Downtown Aurora is home to the Paramount Theatre, a large live performance theater on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Hollywood Casino. There is also the Leland Tower, a former hotel which was the tallest building in Illinois outside the Chicago city limits. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Also located downtown is the main building of Aurora Public Library and a branch campus of Waubonsee Community College. Downtown Alive, a festival that includes live music and a variety of food booths, is held every Friday night in the summer. Roughly 8,000-10,000 people attend every Friday night. Downtown Aurora also hosts the annual Midwest Literary Festival during the second weekend in September. The Riverfront Playhouse is a not-for-profit theater that has held a storefront location in downtown Aurora since 1978. [ [ Riverfront Playhouse] Official Site]

History of entertainment

Aurora has a rich history of entertainment. There were several theaters in the downtown area and several large community parks with baseball stadiums, circus acts, and race tracks.

Aurora has had at least 20 theaters and playhouses in its existence.Some of the more popular were:



Double image|right|Aurora (Metra)-1.jpg|150|Aurora Municipal Airport (Illinois)-1.jpg|150|
Aurora Transportation Center
Aurora Municipal Airport
The city is the final stop of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line of the Metra commuter rail system, allowing rail service into Chicago. The city uses Pace bus for public busing. Along with Metra trains and Pace buses, Greyhound buses also stop at the Aurora Transportation Center. Aurora does not currently have a stop for Amtrak trains, as the old station where they did stop closed in the 1980s. Aurora City Lines, the old city bus lines, was closed in the late 1980s, in favor of regional bus service. Aurora also used to have an extensive streetcar system that served most neighborhoods.

The Aurora Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport located in Sugar Grove, IL just outside of Aurora, Illinois. Although the airport is located within Sugar Grove, it is operated by the City of Aurora. The Aurora Airport is designed as a reliever airport for Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports, and also handles a lot of international cargo. It is capable of landing boeing 757 aircraft.


Aurora currently has two hospitals, one on the west side, Provena Mercy Center, and one in Fox Valley, Rush-Copley Medical Center.

There are other area hospitals, including Edward Hospital in Naperville, Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Central DuPage in Winfield and a Level 1 Trauma center at Good Samaritan in Downers Grove.

Aurora at one point had three hospitals, St. Joseph Hospital, on the west side, St. Charles hospital, in uptown, and Copley Memorial Hospital, on the east side. St Joseph and St, Charles hospitals have been converted into living centers, and the old Copley hospital, which was one of the largest hospitals in the area, sits vacant. The city of Aurora recently demolished the old smokestacks from the hospital, as they were starting to crumble and fall down.

Dreyer Medical and several other independent clinics and medical groups are spread throughout the city. The area surrounding Provena Mercy has evolved into a diverse healthcare district with services and offices.


Many of Aurora's former television and radio stations were closed as stations from Chicago were favored among residents.


*Telefutera Channel 60 WXFT Aurora
*Channel 24 W24AJ Aurora
*Channel 54 W54EB Waubonsee Community College
*Channel 6 ACTV Aurora
*TLN Total Living Network


*AM 1280 WBIG Aurora
*FM 95.9 WERV Aurora
*FM 107.9 WLEY Aurora


The Beacon News has been Aurora's Daily Newspaper since 1846. The Chicago Sun Times Newsgroup now operates the company. The Beacon prints 3 different editions : The Aurora edition, the Kendall county edition, and the Kane county edition. The paper has been recognized by the Associated press, the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, the Illinois Press Association, and the Chicago Headline Club as one of the best daily newspapers in the state of Illinois. [ [ Beacon News :: About Us :: ] ]

Crime and social issues

While still a problem, crime has declined in Aurora in recent years, although gang presence is still very strong in some neighborhoods. Gang violence reached a high in the 1990s, with the city averaging nearly 30 murders per year.Fact|date=September 2008 In July of 2007, the Aurora Police Department and the FBI conducted "Operation First Degree Burn," a sweep that resulted in the successful arrest of 31 alleged gang members suspected of 22 murders dating back to the mid-1990s.Fact|date=September 2008 Aurora has also adopted programs such as CeaseFire to reduce gang violence and prevent youths from joining gangs.

Environmentally, Aurora has long delt with pollution of the Fox River. The river was heavily polluted up until the 1970s by factories that had lined the river for over a century. Cleanup efforts have been successful with the help of state grants [] and volunteer effort.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 142,990 people, 46,489 households, and 34,215 families residing in the city. The average number of residents to one household is 3.6 residents. The population density was 3,711.5 people per square mile (1,432.9/km²). There were 48,797 housing units at an average density of 1,266.6/sq mi (489.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.07% White, 11.06% African American, 0.36% Native American, 3.06% Asian American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 14.52% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 32.56% of the population. [ [ Aurora Demographics] ]

There were 46,489 households out of which 44.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.04 and the average family size was 3.55.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.7% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 35.9% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $54,861, and the median income for a family was $61,113. Males had a median income of $41,429 versus $30,150 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,131. About 6.2% of families and 8.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents


*Ruth VanSickle Ford, Artist.
*Clive Cussler, author.
*Henry Gale, author.
*M. Miriam Herrera, author and poet.
*Elizabeth Linington, author.
*Thom Jones, Author.
*Phillip E. Johnson, Author.


*Francis Laity, rock guitarist and song writer ( Beowulf, metal truck, strange brew).
*Kimberly Donley, adult model and actress.
*Andrea Evans, actress.
*Gene Greene, former ragtime entertainer.
*Dave Johnston, banjoist and singer for the bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band.
*Randy Shilts, author and journalist.
*Carl Thomas, R&B singer.
*Josh Gilbert, screenplay writer and actor.
*Maud Powell, violinist.
*Vernon Parrington, Pulitzer Prize winning author and former college football coach.
*Nicole Narain, adult model
*Bruce Newton, creator of children's television show character Garfield Goose.
*Paul Scheuring, Screenwriter and Director.
*Phillip Edward Van Lear, Actor.
*Bobby Z, Monster Truck Driver.
*John Barrowman, Scottish actor. Moved to Aurora at the age of 9

Politics and Law

*Frank R. Reid, U.S. Representative from Illinois.
*Scott Palmer, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Dennis Hastert.
*Charles Henry Dietrich, former governor of Nebraska.
*Linda Chapa LaVia, member of the Illinois House of Representatives.
*Chris Lauzen, member of the Illinois State Senate.
*Roy Solfisburg, former Illinois Chief Justice.
*Dennis Hastert, Former Speaker of the House.
*Ira Clifton Copley, former United States statesman and newspaper publisher.
*Lewis M. Long, Former Member of the U.S. House of representatives from Illinois.
*Patricia Reid Lindner, member of the Illinois House of Representatives.
*Robert W. Pritchard, member of the Illinois House of Representatives.
*Tim Mahoney, Member of the U.S. House of representatives from Florida.


*James Compton, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.
*G. David Tilman, ecologist.
*Nathaniel Popp, the current archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America's Romanian Episcopate.
*Edna Murray, Depression-era outlaw.
*Dean O'Banion, mobster.
*James F. Phillips, Environmental Activist.
*Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron Corporation.
*Tom Skilling, "Chicago Tribune" and WGN-TV meteorologist
*John Drury, longtime anchor of the Chicago 'Eyewitness News' on the Chicago ABC affiliate.
*Walter E. Truemper, American war hero.
*Lester W. Weber, American war hero.
*Jim McGuinn, Former Radio program director.
*James H. Monroe, Recipient of the Medal of Honor.


*Chick Hearn, former sportscaster.
*Kurt Becker, former NFL player.
*Brad Childress, current NFL coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
*Rich Becker, former MLB player.
*Kenny Battle, former NBA player.
*Don Beebe, former NFL wide receiver.
*Joe Krakoski, former NFL linebacker.
*Mark Catlin, former College Football Coach.
*Jim Platt, College Basketball Coach.
*Bob Kipper, former MLB reliever.
*Chris Ziemann, NFL player.
*Mike Small, PGA golfer.
*Quavas Kirk, Major League Soccer player.
*Zachary Taylor Davis, architect of Old Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field.
*Josh Harmony, professional skateboarder.
*Jenny Jaquez, SIUE Track and Field school record holder
*Randy Melvin, defensive line coach of the Cleveland Browns.
*Steve Thompson, former NFL player.
*Tom Petranoff, former Olympic record holder.
*Bob Johnson, former MLB pitcher.
*Mario Ramos, MLB pitcher.
*Roy Horstmann, former NFL player.
*Marger Apsit, former NFL player.
*Keith Terceira, Boxing Coach.
*Billy Taylor, Head Coach, Ball State University.
*Michael Bowden, MLB pitcher

Aurora in popular culture

*Wayne's World (1992) was about two men, Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers), and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) who lived in Aurora. The characters emerged from the television show "Saturday Night Live"; one of the original authors of the skit was from neighboring Naperville, Illinois, and thought Aurora had the appropriate blue collar feel desired for the characters. This underlined a long rivalry between tony Naperville and the more modest Aurora. Though most of the movie was filmed elsewhere, there are at least one or two bits that were filmed on location in Aurora [ [ Wayne's World (1992) - Filming locations ] ] , most notably the scene in which a White Castle is shown.

* "Prison Break", a FOX Network TV show has several references about Aurora, sometimes multiple times in an episode, as the show is filmed in the area.

* Recently, former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher used Aurora in an anti-casino ad in his unsuccessful re-election campaign. Governor Fletcher referred to Aurora as a good town gone bad, because of the casino. Contrary to the ad, the casino helped revitalize Aurora after the industrial recession of the 1980s.

* The 1986 film "Let's Get Harry" used some establishing shots of the New York Street Memorial Bridge.

* The 2002 Film "Children on Their Birthdays" was filmed in a large Victorian-era home on Aurora's WestSside, although the story is supposed to have taken place in Alabama.

* President George W. Bush was the second president to visit Aurora, Illinois on July 7, 2006. The first was Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. [95.9 The River. Scott Childers. WERV-FM, IL. 07-July-2006.]

* Johnny Depp filmed a scene from his latest movie "Public Enemies" at Aurora's downtown Paramount Theater.



* [ Aurora, Illinois] in the Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago
* [ Aurora Fire Department] history honoring its 150th anniversary, in 2006.
* []


External links

* [ Official Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website]
* [ Official City of Aurora website]
* [ Commercial Alarm Permit]
* [ Official Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce website]

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