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Joliet Veterans Memorial Bicentennial Park, Joliet, IL

Joliet is a city in Will Countymarker and Kendall Countymarker in the U.S. state of Illinoismarker, located southwest of Chicagomarker. It is the county seat of Will County. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 106,221. Its estimated population in 2008 was 146,125. It continues to be Illinois' fastest growing city and one of the fastest growing in the United States. Back when Joliet was first planned in the early 1830s, it was still in Cook County. In 1836, it became the county seat of the new Will County.


In 1833, following the Black Hawk War, Charles Reed built a cabin along the west side of the Des Plaines River. Across the river in 1834, James B. Campbell, treasurer of the canal commissioners, laid out the village of "Juliet", a name local settlers had been using before his arrival. Just before the depression of 1837, Juliet incorporated as a village, but to cut tax expenses, Juliet residents soon petitioned the state to rescind that incorporation. In 1845, local residents changed the community's name from "Juliet" to "Joliet". Joliet was reincorporated as a city in 1852. The origin of the name was most likely a corruption of the name of French Canadianmarker explorer Louis Jolliet, who in 1673, along with Father Jacques Marquette, paddled up the Des Plaines River and camped on a huge mound, a few miles south of present-day Joliet. Maps from Jolliet's exploration of the area, placed a large hill or mound on what is now the southwest corner of the city. That hill was named Mound Jolliet and was made up entirely of clay. The spot was mined by early settlers and is now a depression. That depression was settled soon after and became known as the town of Rockdale.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it (0.76%) is water. It has a sprawling, irregular shape that extends into nine different townships, more than any other Illinois city. They are: Joliet, Plainfield, Troy, New Lenox, Jackson, Channahon, and Lockport in Will County, and Na-Au-Say and Seward in Kendall County. Joliet is a Des Plaines River town, with the downtown located in the river valley. This is especially evident on Interstate 80 if one is coming from the east or the west where it has been flat for many miles and suddenly the land drops as you approach the river. This offers a great view looking north to see downtown Joliet. For most of its existence Joliet geographically has had its "west side" and "east side". This is referring to the west side of the Des Plaines River or the east side of the Des Plaines River. Both sides were roughly proportionate throughout most of its history until the 2nd half of the 20th century when westward expansion began. Many of the downtown shops and businesses began leaving the busy downtown area to the bustling residential developments taking place to the west. Many stores relocated to the west side in new strip malls and shopping centers with more parking and easier access. This began the decline of the downtown shopping district which is still felt today. Today Joliet has a "west side" and a far "west side" (which includes all city limits in Kendall Countymarker). This has given rise to a newly referenced "Central Joliet" portion of the City which essentially is all land west of the Des Plaines River and east of Interstate 55. This new reference may soon change the current meaning of "west side" to west of Interstate 55.


While the heart and history of Joliet is centered around the Des Plaines River Joliet actually expands across both the Des Plaines River and the DuPage Rivermarker. There are several other waterways that traverse through the city limits including Hickory Creek, Spring Creek, the historic Illinois and Michigan Canalmarker, Jackson Creek, and Aux Sable Creek. Some small lakes and bodies of water include Chase Lake, Lake Juco, Michigan Beach, the Brandon Road Quarry, and Leisure Lake.


As of the census of 2000, there were 106,221 people, 36,182 households, and 25,399 families residing in the city. (More recent special census (2007) data puts the population number at 145,800 according to city officials.) The population density was 2,790.9 people per square mile (1,077.6/km²). There were 38,176 housing units at an average density of 1,003.1/sq mi (387.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.32% White, 18.16% African American, 0.28% Native American, 1.14% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 8.97% from other races, and 2.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 18.41% of the population.

There were 36,182 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.9% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.8% were non-families. 24.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.39.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.5% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 16.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,761, and the median income for a family was $55,870. Males had a median income of $41,909 versus $29,100 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,390. About 7.7% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.5% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

A special census conducted in 2006 pegged the city's population at a certified 142,700. Joliet is currently the fastest-growing city in the Midwest and the 12th-fastest-growing city in the United States among cities with more than 100,000 people.


Like many Midwestern cities dependent on manufacturing industries, Joliet has experienced past economic troubles, with the unemployment rate reaching as high as 25% in the early 1980s. Joliet's proximity to the Chicago metropolitan area has provided some relief; the city is increasingly evolving from its status as a steel-town to an exurb. Still, most new migrants to the area are moving to Joliet to live, choosing to work in bordering Cook and DuPage counties, and the downtown area, once downtrodden, is undergoing a total revitalization. The main attractions in Joliet's City Center are the Harrah's Casino and Hotel, Joliet JackHammers baseball (Silver Cross Fieldmarker), and the Rialto Square Theatremarker, the 'Jewel of Joliet', which has been called one of the world's 10 most beautiful theaters. The 1999 film Stir of Echoes starring Kevin Bacon had scenes shot on location in Joliet at both the Rialto Theatre (the hypnotism scenes in which Bacon saw the word "Dig" on the movie screen) and at the corner of Western Avenue and Center Street (sequences showing the front of Kevin Bacon's house). Even though the movie was set in Chicago, the location in Joliet had the right "south sidemarker" appearance and was an easier location to shoot than the large urban setting of Chicago.


Among local landmarks are the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Visitors Center as well as the Chicagoland (NASCAR) and the Route 66 Speedways. The famous Joliet Prisonmarker (now closed) is near downtown on Collins Street and is featured in the television show Prison Break. It was also used for the opening scenes in the popular 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, which starred John Belushi as "Joliet" Jake Blues and Dan Aykroyd as "Elwood" Blues. The first Dairy Queen drive-in was in Joliet. The popular card game "UNO" began here also. The Joliet Arsenalmarker (now the Abraham Lincoln National Cemeterymarker and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie) is in nearby Elwoodmarker. Stateville Correctional Centermarker, the principal prison for the state of Illinois, is located in the neighboring city of Crest Hillmarker. The Rialto Square Theatremarker, a favorite haunt of Al Capone and filming location for scenes from Kevin Bacon's film Stir of Echoes, is on Chicago Street, downtown. There are two riverboat casinos in Joliet: the Empress Casino near Channahonmarker and Rockdalemarker and a Harrah's hotel and casino downtown. Joliet is the only city in the State of Illinois to have two casinos. There are also many restaurants and shops, including the Westfield Louis Joliet mall, located on Rt. 30, where it intersects I-55.

Located at the northeast corner of Chicago and Clinton Streets, is the historic Auditorium Building. Designed by G. Julian Barnes and built of limestone in 1891, it was controversial as one of the first buildings to combine religious, civic and commercial uses.


One of Joliet's nicknames is the "City of Champions." This nickname stems from the numerous state and national titles won by the Joliet Township High School and grade school bands over several decades.

Joliet is home to three high schools that bear its name: Joliet Centralmarker, Joliet West, and Joliet Catholic Academymarker (JCA), each of which has sports programs. JCA has been a major football powerhouse for many years and has won more state football titles than any other team in the state, with 13 as of 2007.

Joliet also is home to the minor league baseball team the Joliet JackHammers of the Northern Independent League.

Chicagoland Speedwaymarker is in Joliet, hosting annual events from NASCAR and the Indy Racing League. During major races, the population of the city more than doubles due to the large influx of fans. Next door to Chicagoland Speedway, Route 66 Racewaymarker features National Hot Rod Association events on its drag-strip. Joliet Central has become actively involved in Route 66 by building an alternative fuel vehicle. Autobahn Country Clubmarker, also located in Joliet, helds SCCA World Challenge, Atlantic Championship and Star Mazda Championship races since 2009.

Parks and recreation

Golf courses

There are 4 golf courses located in the city of Joliet, they are:
  • Inwood Golf Course
  • Woodruff Golf Course
  • Wedgewood Golf Course
  • Joliet Country Club

Joliet also sports 2 miniature golf courses at Haunted Trails located off of Broadway Street.

Joliet also has a water park on Rt. 6 called Splash Station


Colleges and universities

High schools


City limits

Joliet current city limits reach as far as follows:
  • To the north: Renwick Road
  • To the south: Noel Road
  • To the east: Higinbotham Woods
  • To the west: Grove Road


Situated approximately southwest of central Chicago, Joliet has long been a significant transportation hub. It lies on both sides of the Des Plaines River, a major waterway in Northern Illinois, and was one of the principal ports on the Illinois and Michigan Canalmarker. The Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern (EJ&E) railroad came through in the 1850s, and the Santa Fe line soon followed. U.S. Highways 6 (the Grand Army of the Republic Highway), 30 (the Lincoln Highway), 45, 52, and 66 (Route 66) all ran through the city. In the 1960s, Interstate 55 and Interstate 80 made their way through Joliet, linking up near Channahonmarker just west of the city limits. The phrase "Crossroads of Mid-America", found on the Joliet seal, is an allusion to the intersection of I-80 and I-55.Joliet's Union Stationmarker is the final stop on the Metra rail lines from Chicago for the Heritage Corridor route from Chicago Union Stationmarker and the Rock Island District route from LaSalle Street Stationmarker. PACE provides local bus service six days a week (no service on Sundays) with buses leaving from a terminal in downtown Joliet once an hour.


The Joliet Regional Airportmarker is located off of Jefferson Street near Interstate 55. Lewis University Airportmarker is located to the north in the nearby village of Romeovillemarker and is owned by the Joliet Regional Port District.

Major highways

Major highways in Joliet include:


Joliet currently has 2 hospitals within its city limits: Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center (also known as St. Joe's) on the west side and Silver Cross Hospital on the east side. These were the only two hospitals in the history of the existence of Will Countymarker until Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital opened in January 2008. In September 2008, Silver Cross Hospital broke ground for their replacement hospital in New Lenox, which is expected to open in 2012.


According to the official website for the city of Joliet:

Joliet's diverse faith community represents over 60 denominations and offers residents services at more than 150 churches, synagogues, and houses of worship. Along with their spiritual offerings, these houses of worship enrich the Joliet area by providing some of the area's finest examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine, and Renaissance architecture. The spiritual community in Joliet welcomes newcomers with open arms, offering regular worship services and religious education.

Notable natives and/or residents


  1. Population Estimates for the 25 Fastest Growing U.S. Cities with Populations over 100,000 in 2006 (PDF), US Census Bureau, June 28, 2007. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
  2. Midwest Alternative Fuel Vehicle Expo

External links

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