Naperville is a city in DuPage and Will counties in the U.S. state of Illinois and a suburb of Chicago. Located west of Chicago, Naperville was founded in 1831 and developed into the fourth-largest city in Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 141,853, which was estimated to have increased to 148,449 by 2019.
In a 2010 study assessing cities with populations exceeding 75,000, Naperville was ranked as the wealthiest city in the Midwest and the eleventh wealthiest in the nation. It was ranked among the nation's safest cities by USA Today and Business Insider. Naperville was voted the second-best place to live in the United States by Money magazine in 2006 and it was rated first on the list of best cities for early retirement in 2013 by Kiplinger. In 2015, it was named as one of the most educated large cities in America with populations over 50,000.
HistoryIn July 1831, Joseph Naper arrived at the west bank of the DuPage River with his family and friends to found what would be known as Naper's Settlement. Among those original settlers were Naper's wife Almeda Landon, his brother John with wife Betsy Goff, his sister Amy with husband John Murray, and his mother Sarah. Their arrival followed a nearly two-month voyage across three Great Lakes in the Naper brothers' schooner, the Telegraph. Also on the journey were several families who remained in the settlement that would become Chicago, including that of Dexter Graves who is memorialized in Graceland Cemetery by the well-known Lorado Taft statue "Eternal Silence".
By 1832, over one hundred settlers had arrived at Naper's Settlement. Following the news of the Indian Creek massacre during the Black Hawk War, these settlers were temporarily displaced to Fort Dearborn for protection from an anticipated attack by the Sauk tribe. Fort Payne was built at Naper's Settlement, the settlers returned and the attack never materialized. The Pre-Emption House was constructed in 1834, as the Settlement became a stage-coach stop on the road from Chicago to Galena. Reconstructions of Fort Payne and the Pre-Emption House stand as part of Naper Settlement outdoor museum village, which was established by the Naperville Heritage Society and the Naperville Park District in 1969 to preserve some of the community's oldest buildings.
In 1855, Sybil Dunbar came to Naperville as its first recorded black female resident; she died in 1868 and was buried in Naperville Cemetery on Washington Street. A commemorative marker honoring her was placed in the cemetery in 2015.
After DuPage County was split from Cook County in 1839, Naper's Settlement became the DuPage county seat, a distinction it held until 1868. Naper's Settlement was incorporated as the Village of Naperville in 1857, at which time it had a population of 2,000. Reincorporation as a city occurred in 1890.
In 1887, Peter Edward Kroehler established the Kroehler Manufacturing Company's factory in Naperville along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy tracks. Kroehler Manufacturing became the world's largest furniture manufacturer, and a major employer in Naperville. The company closed the Naperville factory in 1978. In 1987, the site was redeveloped into upscale commercial and apartment properties, as Fifth Avenue Station.
On April 26, 1946, Naperville was the site of one of the worst train disasters in Chicago history. Two Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad trains, the Advance Flyer and the Exposition Flyer, collided 'head to tail' on a single track just west of the Loomis Street grade crossing. The accident killed 45 and injured approximately 127 passengers and/or crew members. This event is commemorated in a metal inlay map of Naperville on the southeast corner of the Nichols Library's sidewalk area. In 2012, author Chuck Spinner published The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing which details the tragedy and gives the stories of the 45 persons who perished. On April 26, 2014, a memorial entitled Tragedy to Triumph was dedicated at the train station. The sculpture by Paul Kuhn is dedicated not only to the crash victims but also to the rescuers at the site.
A predominantly rural community for most of its existence, Naperville experienced a population explosion beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the 1980s and 1990s, following the construction of the East-West Tollway and Interstate 355. It has nearly quadrupled in size as the Chicago metropolitan area's urban sprawl brought corporations, jobs, and wealth to the area.
The March 2006 issue of Chicago magazine cites a mid-1970s decision to make and keep all parking in downtown Naperville free to keep downtown Naperville "alive" in the face of competition with Fox Valley Mall in Aurora and the subsequent sprawl of strip shopping malls. Parking meters were taken down, parking in garages built in the 1980s and 1990s is free, and parking is still available on major thoroughfares during non-peak hours.
Naperville marked the 175th anniversary of its 1831 founding in 2006. The anniversary events included celebrations, concerts and a balloon parade.
Geography and climateAccording to the 2010 census, Naperville has an area of, of which is land and is water.
Portions of the city of Naperville drain to the West Branch of the DuPage River within DuPage County. Specifically, in the flood of 1996, downtown businesses in the City of Naperville incurred significant damage. Overall, however, Forest Preserve District ownership of a large amount of property along the West Branch has minimized development in flood plains and has helped reduce the damages from overbank flooding that have occurred in the county's more developed watersheds.
Naperville borders the communities of Warrenville, Wheaton, Lisle, Woodridge, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, and Aurora.
DemographicsThere were 141,122 people, 53,408 households, and 36,289 families residing in the city. As of April 2016, Naperville was the 176th most populous city in the United States.
According to the 2016 American Community Survey, the population density was 3708.8 inhabitants per square mile. There were 53,408 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 76.5% White, 4.7% African American, 14.9% Asian and 5.3% Hispanic or Latino.
There were 48,655 households, out of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.0% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 17.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.9% 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 30.2% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $105,585, and the median income for a family was $130,164. Males had a median income of $82,515 versus $46,533 for females. The per capita income for the city was $48,239. About 2.5% of the population was below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.
In 2011, 14.9% of Naperville's residents were Asian, making it the Chicago suburb with the tenth highest percentage of Asians.
EconomyNaperville is within the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor. Employers contributing to the population explosion of the 1980s and 1990s included: Bell Labs and Western Electric, Amoco, Nalco, Calamos, Nicor, and Edward Hospital. and ConAgra's Grocery division branch office employs approximately 400 workers. Kraft Foods opened their Naperville site in 1968, and employs over 200 individuals at the plant, which supplies all Triscuit products for North America. Naperville is also home to the headquarters of Dukane Precast, and their double-wall precast concrete manufacturing plant. Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory are also nearby. Naperville was one of the ten fastest growing communities in the United States during the 1990s.
The Naperville area is home to many popular retailers, restaurants and shopping centers, such as downtown Naperville, Freedom Commons, Springbrook Prairie Pavilion, and the Route 59 and Ogden Avenue corridors. Naperville has over eleven automobile dealerships, and in October 2006, the city opened the country's first public-private automobile test track, situated on a course, at a cost of $1.5 million.
Top employersAccording to the city's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city's top ten employers are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|4||Indian Prairie School District 204||3,184|
|5||Naperville Community Unit School District 203||2,575|
|10||City of Naperville||998|
LibraryThe Naperville Public Library has been ranked number one in the United States each year from 1999 through 2010, for cities with populations between 100,000 and 249,999 by Hennen's American Public Library Ratings.
There are three public library locations within the city limits:
- The Nichols Library is in downtown Naperville, at 200 W. Jefferson Street. It opened at this location in March 1986. It is a structure and is pictured at right. The previous library building still stands on Washington Street, just south of the YMCA building, at Washington and Van Buren.
- The Naper Boulevard Library was dedicated in December 1992 and underwent internal renovations in 2015. It is at 2035 S. Naper Boulevard and is the smallest of the three buildings at
- The 95th Street Library is near the intersection of 95th Street and Route 59, at 3015 Cedar Glade Drive. Opened in September 2003, it is the newest and largest of the three facilities at and features a modern, curving architectural style. This building was renovated in 2018 with the entire lower level reorganized to define social areas, maximize space, and go green.
ArtNaperville is home of the Naperville Independent Film Festival, an annual film festival which features the work of independent filmmakers.
The Naperville Municipal Band is a nonprofit organization founded in 1859. They perform a summer concert series in Naperville's Central Park, as well as several other concerts around the city, and are made up of over 90 volunteer musicians.
TourismThe Naperville Historic District is a set of 613 buildings in the older eastern section of Naperville and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Old Nichols Library building, which served as Naperville's original public library, was designated a local landmark in 2017.Carillon. The 158-foot-tall Moser tower is just on north of Aurora Avenue and at the base of Rotary Hill within the Riverwalk Park complex. The tower's design won an award for "Best Custom Solution" from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.
The Millennium Carillon is designated as one of the four largest carillons in the world, with 72 bronze bells weighing from 10 pounds to the 6-ton "Captain Joseph Naper Bell". It is one of only four in the world that span six octaves. It was dedicated in an Independence Day event on June 29, 2000, with a reception attended by over 15,000, and a performance by the Naperville Municipal Band and the Naperville Men's Glee Club and Festival Chorus. The Carillon is both manually and also computer-playable, with most performances done by hand, but with half the bells played by a computer-controlled system at set times during the day. At present, the Carillon is operational and tours are available after concerts. Disputes over funding the completion of the tower were debated before the Naperville City Council during the fall of 2005.
Naperville RiverwalkNaperville is known for the Naperville Riverwalk, built in 1981 to commemorate Naperville's 150th anniversary. The Riverwalk has many points of interest along its 1.75 mile path.
DuPage Children's MuseumDuPage Children's Museum was founded in 1987, and moved from Wheaton to its Naperville location in 2001. It was rebuilt in 2015 due to a flood after it was moved to its location in Naperville. The redesigned museum received 3 awards. DuPage Children's museum celebrated its 30th years birthday in June 2017. It now has annually 300,000 visitors.
TownshipsNaperville is located in six townships in two counties. In Dupage County, the Northwest portion is in Winfield Township, the Northeast portion is in Milton Township, the West central portion is in Naperville Township, and the East central portion is in Lisle Township.
In Will County, the Southwest portion is in Wheatland Township, and the Southeast portion is in DuPage Township. The largest number of Naperville residents live in Lisle Township, followed by Naperville Township.
Colleges and universities
- North Central College is on a campus in Downtown Naperville on Chicago Avenue. It was founded by a predecessor church to the United Methodist Church in 1861 and has been in Naperville since 1870. The college remains affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
- Northern Illinois University maintains a satellite campus on Diehl Road offering several degrees at its facility.
- The College of DuPage Naperville Regional Center is on Rickert Drive.
- DeVry University maintains a satellite campus on Westings Avenue in Naperville.
- Governors State University recently opened a satellite campus on West 95th Street in Naperville.
- Northwestern College has a Naperville campus on North Mill Street.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign opened a Business & Industry Services campus in Naperville in 2007.
Primary and secondary schools
Public schoolsTwo K-12 public school districts serve the city of Naperville. Within the state of Illinois, school districts are numbered by their county.
Naperville Community Unit School District 203, established in 1972 through the merger of elementary and high school districts, serves central and northern Naperville. The current District 203 school buildings were constructed between 1928 and 2010.
The 203 school district has two high schools: Naperville Central High School and Naperville North High School, 5 junior high schools and 15 elementary schools within Naperville city limits. Additionally, the school district has one junior high and one elementary school in Lisle.
Indian Prairie School District 204 was also formed through merged districts in 1972. Neuqua Valley High School, along with three middle schools and 19 elementary schools from this district, are within Naperville city limits in the southern part. In total, IPSD runs and maintains 4 high schools, 7 junior high schools, 21 elementary schools, 1 preschool, and 1 alternative high school. The district serves western and southwestern Naperville, along with eastern Aurora and parts of Bolingbrook and Plainfield.
Private schoolsPrivate schools in the city limits include:
- All Saints Catholic Academy, founded in 2005, preschool through 8th grade
- Bethany Lutheran School, preschool through 8th grade
- Calvary Christian School, kindergarten through 8th grade
- Chesterbrook Academy, kindergarten through 5th grade
- Covenant Classical School, kindergarten through 8th grade
- Naperville Academy, established by law in 1841, incorporated in 1851, and opened in 1852. It became a public school in 1860 and the school building stood until 1928.
- Naperville Christian Academy, Classical Christian school, preschool through 12th grade
- St. Raphael School, Roman Catholic school, kindergarten through 8th grade
- Saints Peter and Paul School, opened in 1855, Catholic school, kindergarten through 8th grade
- Naperville Community Television, NCTV17 – Community-based programming that includes news, sports, and talk shows.
- Daily Herald is a daily newspaper served suburban Chicago. It was started in 1872 and prospered by Hosea Paddock and his posterity since 1889.
- Naperville Sun is a local newspaper served Naperville, Illinois and published three days a week, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. It was founded in 1935 and now is owned by Chicago Tribune Media Group.
- Shaw Media includes daily and weekly print and online publications located in Illinois and Iowa.
- 1610-AM WPFP 929, AM 1610 – emergency, city and road information
- Stop and Go Radio – Internet community radio station
- WONC – album oriented rock format, owned by North Central College
- WCKG – The Voice of Dupage County and Naperville's News/Talk. Providing local Dupage County weather and suburban news
Health systemsin Naperville, IL, was first established in 1907 as Edward Sanitarium, and became Edward Hospital in 1955. It merged with Elmhurst Hospital in 2013 to create Edward-Elmhurst Health. Edward Hospital is a full-service hospital with 352 private patient rooms. It was named as a 100 Top Hospital in 2011, 2016, and 2018 by IBM Watson Health in the Large Community Hospitals category. For many years, Edward Hospital and others have tried to introduce a new hospital into Naperville only to have their request turned down. Thus, Naperville remains the only large Illinois city with only one hospital. Edward Hospital currently is trying to open a hospital in nearby Plainfield to help Naperville citizens with travel times to Edward Hospital.
DuPage Medical Group serves the western suburbs of Chicago with primary and specialty care since 1999. It was formed by merging Glen Ellyn Clinic, Wheaton Medical Clinic, and Mid-America Health Partners. It has more than 70 locations and 17 of them are in Naperville.
University of Chicago Medication has two locations at Naperville providing Pediatric and ENT services.
There are several Hospitals and Medical Groups near Naperville:
Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, IL, belongs to Advocate Health Care. In 2016, it has 326 beds and has been named a Truven 100 Top Hospital for the seventh time.
AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center at Bolingbrook, IL, is a 138-bed acute care hospital serving western and southwestern suburbs since 2008.
Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, IL, offers full medical services to DuPage community since 1964. It now has about 340 beds and more than 900 physicians. It has been named as a 100 Top Hospital by IBM Watson Health in the Large Community Hospitals category for nine times.
Rush Copley Medical Center is located in Aurora, IL. As a member of Rush University, it provides medical services to the greater Fox Valley area.
ParksThe Naperville Park District manages and provides leisure and recreational activities for Naperville and nearby residents. The District was established by referendum in 1966. As of 2007, the Park District manages over of open space, including over 130 parks and four sports complexes. The Park District also manages two golf courses, Springbrook and Naperbrook. In addition, the Park District is responsible for the Naperville Riverwalk, construction of which began in 1981, marking the 150th anniversary of the first Joseph Naper's settlement. The Park District maintains and beautifies the riverwalk throughout the year with the help of community members. The Naperville Riverwalk is 1.75 miles long and runs along the West Branch of the DuPage River. It is made up of brick paths, fountains, and covered bridges. In addition, the riverwalk features the Dandelion Fountain, the Naperville Century Walk, the Riverwalk Eatery, and the Commander Dan Shanower-Sep 11 Memorial. The memorial also includes over 140 faces made by local school children symbolizing the casualties of September 11. As of April 2015, a 2.4 acre Water Street District development has started just south of the Naperville Riverwalk between Main and Webster streets. The city of Naperville and Naperville Park District are planning to expand the riverwalk to add an art wall and seating areas. The Water Street project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016. North Central College with the help of the city of Naperville is planning to construct a park along the riverwalk, but the project has been suspended for the time being. Some of the other facilities managed by the Park District include:
- Centennial Beach, with adjacent Centennial Park.
- Two parks dedicated to skateboarding and in-line skating, at Frontier Sports Complex and Centennial Park.
- Commissioners Park, which includes Naperville's first official Cricket pitch, opened in 2006.
- Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center
- Community Garden Plots, on West Street.
- Knoch Knolls Park, which includes a small, but recently extended, mountain biking trail and eighteen-hole frisbee golf course, located south between Ring Road and 95th Street.
- Naperville Sportsman's Club, Public trap shooting range
- Springbrook Prairie, which is 1,829 acres of land, 13 miles of trails, activities including bird watching, kayaking, model-aircraft area, fishing, biking, running, and other recreational activities.
- Greene Valley Forest Preserve, which offers hiking, biking, picnicking, model airplane area, and youth camping.
- Herrick Lake Forest Preserve, where there are trails for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding, a lake for fishing and boating, and picnic areas.
- McDowell Grove Forest Preserve, where activities include picnicking, fishing, watercraft access to the DuPage River, hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding on trails.
- Pioneer Park, the location of the Hobson monument and grist mill; a section of the DuPage River Trail used for walking, running, and cycling; and access to the DuPage River for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
Post officeIn 1941, New Deal artist Rainey Bennett painted an oil on canvas mural for the Naperville post office titled, George Martin's Home Overlooking Old Naper Hill.
The main post office in Naperville is at 1750 W. Ogden Ave., Naperville. The downtown post office building at 5 S. Washington St., Naperville has been redeveloped as a bank, with a space for a smaller post office to continue to serve downtown customers.
RoadsAs a typical American suburb, Naperville uses automobiles as its main mode of transportation. The Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway runs near the north edge of Naperville with 3 exits serving the city at IL 59, Winfield Rd., and Naperville Rd. Interstate 55 runs about 5 miles south of the city, through Bolingbrook and Romeoville. People wishing to reach Naperville from I-55 exit at Weber Road and head north.
US Route 34 Ogden Avenue enters Naperville in the west at Illinois Route 59 coming from Oswego and Aurora at an east-northeast/west-southwest angle. At Rickert Drive, US 34 Ogden Ave curves to the north and goes under the BNSF Railroad bridge before turning east at North Aurora Road/Raymond Dr. US 34 Ogden Ave exits the east side of the city at Naper Blvd and continues into Lisle and Downers Grove.
Illinois Route 59 travels north and south coming into town from Plainfield on the south and Warrenville on the north. Route 59 is also the west border with Aurora from US 34 Ogden Ave to the BNSF Railroad bridge. A Diverging Diamond Interchange, the first in Northeast Illinois, was completed in 2015 at the junction of IL Route 59 and Interstate 88.
Main east–west streets include:
111th St., 95th St., 87th St., Aurora Ave., North Aurora Rd., Diehl Rd., Rickert Dr., Royce Rd., Bailey Rd., Hobson Rd., and Chicago Ave.
Main north–south streets include:
Raymond Dr., Book Rd., River Rd., West St., Naperville-Plainfield Rd., Modaff Rd., Washington St., Naper Blvd., and Wehrli Rd.
From 75th Street south Naperville numbered east–west streets roughly follow the same grid layout as the City of Chicago. In other words, if 75th Street continued east past its terminus at Illinois Route 83, in Willowbrook, it would eventually be the same 75th Street as found in Chicago city limits. However, the older part of Naperville has a second numerical grid, starting downtown at Main and Benton, with 4th and 5th Avenues just north of the BNSF tracks, and continuing through 15th Avenue. The difference is that the numbers in the older system go up from downtown, traveling south to north, and the other grid's numbers go up as you travel north to south. There is also a geographical-based naming system, with West Street and North Street defining the older boundaries of the city. Along with these are streets named after the city they lead to, i.e., Naper/Plainfield Road heads towards Plainfield, while Aurora Avenue leads to Aurora and Chicago Avenue to Chicago.
Train serviceThe first rail link to Chicago dates to 1864, established by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Naperville currently has three tracks belonging to the BNSF Railway that run through the north end of town, with passenger rail service provided by Metra and Amtrak. Amtrak's four daily trains through Naperville are the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, the California Zephyr, and the Southwest Chief. A third Metra station was planned on the Suburban Transit Access Route at Wolf's Crossing. The project is no longer active since 2012.
Bus serviceprovides rush hour bus service to the Metra stations, and previously, through 2008, had provided for local midday service. Both services have always been operated under contract; First Student, a national transportation management firm, is the current contract operator. In addition, Pace directly operates bus route 530 from Naperville to Aurora and bus route 714 from Naperville to Wheaton, both through its Fox Valley division. Pace also directly operates route 888, a rush hour express route named the "Tri-State Flyer," from Homewood and South Holland to corporate employment sites in the western suburbs, including those in the northern part of Naperville; this route is operated by Pace through its South division. Intercity bus service in Naperville consists of a route from Chicago and Naperville to Davenport, Iowa, and points further west, operated by both Burlington Trailways and Greyhound Lines. The Burlington Trailways buses stop at the Naperville Metra and Amtrak station, downtown on Fourth Avenue; the Greyhound Lines buses stop at the Route 59 Metra station.
Airportand Midway International Airport are approx. away from Naperville, respectively.
The DuPage Airport, a general aviation airport serving private and charter jets, is 14 miles from downtown Naperville.
There is also one private airport, the Naper Aero Club field, designation LL-10, on the western edge of town. The field is notable for being the home of the Lima Lima Flight Team.