The third-largest city in Illinois, Peoria's population surpasses 130,000 residents. As one of the oldest settlements in Illinois, Peoria was settled in 1680 and was still inhabited more than 150 years later. In the 1830s, Peoria was one of the first world leaders in distillery, with 22 distilleries and several breweries. It also became a large bootlegging area during prohibition. Shortly thereafter, farm equipment manufacturers set up shop. Today, the world headquarters for Caterpillar Incorporated is within the Peoria city limits.
Peoria is an important livestock and grain exporting market because it is located at the center of a fertile agricultural area. Corn and soybeans are the principal crops. Earth moving and tractor equipment companies lead the city's economy.
Around 76 percent of workers from the city work for companies, 9 percent work for the government and 6 percent are self-employed. The leading industries are educational services, health care, social assistance, manufacturing and waste management services. The city is also home to several distilleries and breweries.
Notable companies that have their offices or headquarters in the city are Caterpillar Inc., Keystone Steel & Wire Co., Morton Metalcraft Co., AmerenCILCO, RLI Corp., Bergner's and Archer Daniels Midland.
Most of the population in Peoria is urban. The city accommodates a little more than 49,000 houses and has an occupancy ratio of 92 percent. Out of these 45,100 houses, owners occupy about 27,040 houses and little less than 18,100 houses are renter-occupied.
Peoria comprises 11 different neighborhoods: Bartonville, Downtown Peoria, Peoria Heights, North Valley, North Peoria, Northwest Peoria, South Peoria, West Peoria, Central Peoria, East Bluff and West Bluff.
The Peoria RiverFront is one of Illinois' oldest and most lively regions, featuring shops, restaurants and art galleries along the west shore of the Illinois River. It has been a commercial and cultural center since the first Europeans populated the Peoria area in the mid-1600s.
The 46-square-mile city is a transportation hub. Peoria is served by Interstate 74, which runs northwest to southeast through the downtown area, and Interstate 474, which is a southern bypass of I-74. U.S. Route 24 travels along the bank of Peoria's side of the Illinois River, and U.S. Route 150 is a main artery for northern Peoria, turning into War Memorial Drive when it gets closer to downtown. Public bus service is provided throughout the city by CityLink and its 20 routes. For air travel, the Peoria International Airport is southwest of Peoria and offers daily nonstop flights to numerous national cities.
The Peoria Journal Star is a daily newspaper with a circulation of around 65,000. As the highest-circulation downstate Illinois newspaper and the fourth-highest in the state, the Journal Star was sold to a New York-based conglomerate in 2007. The paper's offices are in the eastern part of the city on News Plaza.
The farm team of the Chicago Cubs, the Peoria Chiefs are a minor-league baseball team in the Class A division. They play their games at O'Brien Field. Originally called the Peoria Reds, the name "Chiefs" was given to the team in 1984, a year after its inaugural year, after the Peoria tribe the city was named for.
The Peoria Rivermen play minor-league hockey in the American Hockey League. Established in 2005, the Rivermen is the third team to play under the same name. Previous Rivermen teams played in the Continental Hockey League, which ended in 1982, and the International Hockey League, which ended its operation in Peoria in 1997. The current Rivermen are the farm team of the Saint Louis Blues.
The Peoria Pirates are a professional arena football team in af2, the minor league to the Arena Football League. Founded in 1999, they have won two ArenaCup Championships.
A private, four-year institution, Bradley University offers its 5,000 undergrads more than 100 degrees to choose from. For its almost 1,000 graduate students, there are 30 degrees to select from. As part of the NCAA Division I athletic level, Bradley is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Midwest College has been in Peoria since 1888 and is a private, four-year college offering numerous undergraduate degrees.