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Crystal Lake, IL

Located 50 miles northwest of Chicago, Crystal Lake is the largest city in McHenry County and home to around 40,000 residents. The residents of this growing, 16-square-mile city enjoy the small-town feel of Crystal Lake, yet they are close enough to many transportation hubs to travel to bigger suburbs or even to the Windy City itself.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Crystal Lake has a mostly urban population of 41,630. The city accommodates around 13,360 houses with 12,980 houses occupied; of those, approximately 10,285 are owner- occupied. Crystal Lake has a housing density of 823 houses per square mile.

Area population has grown exponentially in this city since the 1980s. As workers sought peaceful suburban neighborhoods, Crystal Lake saw its population almost double. Currently, its inhabitants are members of a mixed workforce, and both blue- and white-collar workers abound.

In the northern part of the city is the area known as Prairie Ridge, which refers to the nearby high school of the same name. Houses in this neighborhood are large and fairly expensive.

Downtown Crystal Lake contains houses of varying sizes and age, and is considered the most diverse.

South of that area is the Coventry neighborhood, which has a history of being settled by pilots who flew out of O'Hare International Airport. This neighborhood is the most inexpensive part of the city.

Four Colonies, The Villages, and Wedgewood are all southwest of downtown.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

The unemployment rate of Crystal Lake is relatively low and the average salary for jobs in the city is $42,220 and the median income of households is $66,872. Some of the leading industries in the city are manufacturing, healthcare services and social assistance.

Some of the leading employers in the city are AptarGroup Inc., The UniMark Group Inc., Menards, Precision Dormer Company, Triumph Twist Drill Co. and Criterion Financial Services.

Provena Mercy Medical Center is located on the west side of the city, this 350-bed hospital is ranked in the top 5 percent of the nation's hospitals for cardiac care. It is also noted for its orthopedic services, which earn it a spot in the nation's top 10 percent. Rush-Copley Medical Center is one of the leading hospitals in all of Fox Valley, Rush-Copley has a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is the highest level of care for at-risk newborns. The hospital is in the eastern part of Aurora, and it specializes in maternity care and cancer treatment and supports an entire cancer center.

GETTING AROUND

Because Crystal Lake is far from major metropolitan areas, most commuters travel quite a distance. The average time spent commuting in a car for those who live here is around 31 minutes, which is above the national average of 24 minutes. Drivers from this city have easy access to a main tollway, Interstate 90, through Randall Road, which is a main road in Crystal Lake. Other major roads include Illinois Routes 176 and 31. The last stop of the passenger commuter Metra Rail is at the Union Pacific Northwest Line in Crystal Lake, off Woodstock Avenue and Grant Street. This railway can take passengers all the way to downtown Chicago. Although the main area airports are Chicago's O'Hare International (35 miles) and Midway (50 miles), nearby Lake in the Hills Airport just south of Crystal Lake offers full-service or commercially chartered flights.

BEST BETS

America's Cardboard Cup Regatta: During the last Saturday of June, contestants can be found at Main Beach fashioning boats made of cardboard. This regatta includes numerous categories for would-be sailors to win, and spectators and competitors alike can enjoy laughing while watching the water erode the cardboard creations.

Crystal Lake: The city is the namesake of this lake, and it's no wonder: The massive lake encompasses more than 200 acres. People can use the lake year round to swim, fish, boat and even skate. Residents flock to the lake's beaches; the main one is located on Lake Shore Drive.

EVENTS

Crystal Lake Gala: Celebrated for four days during the Fourth of July, this festival is held at Lippold Park and provides musical entertainment, a parade and a 5K run/walk. Capping off the entire celebration is the city's spectacular fireworks display.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: This festival is held on a Saturday in September in downtown Crystal Lake. With obstacle courses for children, an apple pie-eating contest and a crafts fair, this yearly celebration of Johnny Appleseed is attended by thousands of visitors.

Festival of Lights Holiday Parade: The evening parade occurs the Friday after Thanksgiving and starts at Crystal Lake Central High School, working its way through nearby neighborhoods and then back to the high school. Parade participants are judged on the best use of lights and their walking enthusiasm.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Raue Center for the Performing Arts: Located on Williams Street in historic downtown Crystal Lake, this 1920s theater was recently restored. Featuring Broadway shows, musicians and other live entertainment, the 800-seat venue has beautifully restored art deco pieces inside.

Sports: The Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) World Series is played annually in July and August in Crystal Lake. Since 1993, the 15-year-old players come from all over the country to play their games in the city's numerous parks.

EDUCATION

McHenry County College has its main campus off U.S. Highway 14, where it offers six associate degrees and 17 associate of applied science degrees. Opened in 1967, this college enrolls more than 2,000 full-time students and another 5,000 part-time students. Its athletics program falls under the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

LOCAL MEDIA

Serving McHenry County since 1856, the Northwest Herald is a daily newspaper, and its home office is in Crystal Lake. With a circulation of more than 40,000, it is owned by Shaw Suburban Media of Greater Chicago, which also owns several other suburban media outlets.

WZSR 105.5 is located on U.S. Highway 14 in Crystal Lake in the same vicinity as McHenry County College. Star 105.5 plays the top songs from the 1980s and 1990s.


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