In 2008 Money magazine named Aurora one of the top 100 best small cities in the nation. As the second-largest city in Illinois (second to Chicago), this city always provides something to do. Aurora and its approximately 170,000 residents are located 37 miles west of the Windy City. With its almost 40 square miles of land, this city inhabits 4 different counties: Kane, Will, DuPage, and Kendall.
Aurora is the last stop on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Metra Rail line, connecting this city with downtown Chicago. The train stops in the heart of Aurora's downtown, east of the Fox River. Pace buses also service the community, and the company's main hub is at the Aurora Transportation Center on North Broadway. Interstate 88, also known as the East-West Tollway or the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway, is easily accessible to commuters living in Aurora. Aurora Municipal Airport is technically located in Sugar Grove, Illinois, but it is maintained and operated by the city of Aurora. Handling a majority of cargo planes, this airport is also used to relieve some of the air traffic from Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway airports.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Most of the population in Aurora is urban. The city accommodates around 49,000 houses with around 46,600 houses occupied. Renters occupy around 14,000 houses and owners occupy about 32,620 houses.
With six school districts, seven townships and four counties represented in the vast city, Aurora's neighborhoods are extensive. The north and west sides of the city have the more desirable and newer homes. These areas also tend to have the better school districts. The eastern part of Aurora supports numerous businesses, and an entire strip of Route 59 is dedicated to strip malls and anchor stores. One of the problems facing Aurora over the years has been the influx of crime, although the numbers have dropped during the last six years. The areas east of Broadway tend to be some of the rougher areas of the city.
Aurora's notable neighborhoods include:
- Downtown Aurora is situated at the center of the city. Downtown is famous for huge historic buildings situated at North west side. Downtown Aurora is popular for Leland Hotel, a 22 story building. Cherry Hill is one of the major neighborhoods in Aurora located in far west side. In 1996 it was damaged by floods but has been recovered since then.
- Copleyvile is located in East side near Copley Memorial Hospital. Copleyville is one of the densely populated neighborhoods in the city.
- Other neighborhoods in Aurora include Dutchtown, Hometown, Foxcroft, Hometown, Lakeside Sans Souci, Little Italy, Newport Hill, Marywood, Pigeon Hill, Riddle Highlands, Sans Souci, Scraper-Moecherville, Southpark and Uptown.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Some of the leading industries in Aurora are manufacturing and health care. The unemployment rate of the city is 8.3 percent.
Major Aurora employers include OSI Industries LLC, BRK Brands Inc., Hollywood Casino Aurora, Provena Mercy Medical Center, City of Aurora and, Waubonsee Community College-Aurora Campus.
- Downtown Alive!: Occurring on most Fridays and Saturdays during the summer months, this summer festival attracts more than 5,000 people nightly. Featuring numerous bands, food vendors from some of Aurora's finest restaurants, and a children's area full of exciting rides, this attraction provides plenty of options to choose from.
- Blues on the Fox: This intimate celebration of everything Blues can be found in downtown Aurora along the banks of the Illinois Fox River. During this free two-day festival in June, revelers can enjoy music from Blues musicians and delicious food with the entire family.
- Philips Park Zoo: Free of charge, this zoo is open year-round and features many types of animals that are native to North America. Among its collection are several types of foxes, birds, wolves, cougars, otters, reptiles, and some domestic farm animals.
- Red Oak Nature Center: This park is part of the state's largest park district, the Fox Valley Park District. The nature center is located in wooded acres near the east bank of the Fox River. Visitors can learn about one of the more popular nearby attractions, Devil's Cave, at the nature center or gaze across the river while standing at the observation deck.
- Hollywood Casino: Operating daily, Aurora's casino on Galena Boulevard contains 53,000 square feet of gambling. Offering more than 1,000 slot machines and numerous table games, patrons can choose from among numerous options to make a few bucks. While patrons take a breather from gambling, they can choose from the many restaurant or buffet choices.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Aurora Regional Fire Museum: Found in downtown Aurora, the museum preserves and showcases fire artifacts from Aurora's fire department. One of the oldest items in the hands-on museum is an 1850s hand pumper.
- Paramount Theater: The first air-conditioned building outside Chicago, this Paramount Pictures-owned theater opened to the public in 1931. Restored in the late 1980s, it now continues to bring in revenue as it supports more than 150,000 patrons and features several free theatrical productions.
- Aurora University: This independent four-year university offers numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees. Enrolling more than 4,000 students annually, the main campus is in Aurora, and an additional campus is located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Aurora University is a member of the NCAA Division III with a total of 18 men's and women's collegiate sporting teams.
- Waubonsee Community College-Aurora Campus offers transfer degrees, as well as career education and certificate programs.