Ranked first in Chicago magazine's 2003 survey of Best Places to Live, Elmhurst is a quiet but active suburb about 16 miles west of Downtown Chicago. Elmhurst's reputation as the place to live is not new. Following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, wealthy denizens fled Chicago and several landed in Elmhurst. The city quickly became an elegant center to the social scene of these powerful estate owners. This so-called "gilded age of Elmhurst" lasted well into the early 1900s. By the 1920s, Elmhurst was the largest city in DuPage County. Today, roughly 43,000 people call Elmhurst home. Although most of the great estates of the 1900s are gone, the area continues to be relatively wealthy.
Elmhurst is a decidedly white-collar city, with more than 86 percent of the workforce employed in white-collar industries. Residents tend to work in office jobs, sales or management. More than 45 percent of the population has at least a bachelor's degree.
Elmhurst is a thriving city that bustles with retail and industry in all corners of the area. While other cities are just beginning an attempt to revitalize their downtown areas, Elmhurst's City Centre neighborhood already crackles with activity on its fountain- and tree-lined streets. The pedestrian-friendly area is jammed with shops, fine restaurants and bars and a movie theater. Elmhurst boasts several other retail districts as well. Spring Road, a large area with restaurants and stores, plays host to several of the town's parades and festivals. York and Vallette is a crossroads that offers goods and services with convenient parking. Elmhurst Crossing is a regional shopping area with several large chain stores and restaurants. There is a strong manufacturing section as well.
Sunshine Biscuits baking company and McMaster-Carr Supply Company are two of the city's most well-known, corporate citizens and biggest employers. Other major employers include:
Matching how well established the community is, Elmhurst homes tend to be on the older side. As with many communities, Elmhurst changed dramatically due to the post-World War II housing boom. Consequently, most modern-day Elmhurst houses were built between 1940 and 1969. The less expensive houses tend to be on the northern side of the city, in the area bounded by U.S. Route 20 and Grand Avenue. This area features mostly homes built between 1940 and 1969 and is populated with mixed ages. The most expensive area in the city is the Downtown City Centre neighborhood; the mixed-age area is comprised mostly of historic single-family homes built before 1939, and it has much to offer in the way of entertainment.
The tree-lined streets of Elmhurst are largely filled with single-family detached homes, although about 17 percent of realty is condominium/apartment complexes. Homes come in a variety of sizes, with the majority of homes having three bedrooms.
Families are at the heart of Elmhurst. Of the city's more than 15,500 households, almost 34 percent are families with children under 18 living with them. In fact, just over a quarter of the city's population is under 18. The median age is 39 years old. Elmhurst is majority white (about 93 percent), although there is a roughly 3 percent Asian population as well. Latinos (of any race) make up about 4 percent of the population.
Elmhurst residents are an active bunch. The city is host to several social groups that center on a common interest: