Found 40 miles southwest of Chicago, Joliet is Illinois's fastest growing city with more than 145,000 residents. Millions more visit the city annually to check out its casinos, NASCAR races and other attractions. The city's downtown is located in a river valley, and visitors can gaze across the Des Plaines River from the heart of the city.
Approximately 79 percent of workers from the city work for companies, 10 percent work for the government and 3 percent are self-employed. The leading industries in Joliet are manufacturing, educational services, health care, social assistance and retail. Exxon runs a refinery and Caterpillar makes parts for its heavy machinery in Joliet.
Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park: Located on Bluff Street in downtown Joliet, this park features a riverwalk, historic murals, an indoor theater, and an outdoor band shell. In the center of the park glows a fully lit fountain that was built in 2001 and named "Frannie" in honor of the mayor's wife for her contributions to the park's recent redesign.
Harrah's Casino: With more than 1,000 slots, Harrah's can be found on the Des Plaines River in the heart of Joliet's downtown. Patrons can take advantage of its stay-and-play program by reserving a room at the connecting hotel.
Empress Casino: Also featuring more than 1,000 slots, the Empress provides plenty of table games as well. Located off U.S. Highway 6, the casino also houses an adjacent hotel and an RV resort, where guests can hook up their rides to spend the night.
Rialto Square Theater: Found in the middle of Joliet's downtown entertainment district on Chicago Street, the theater once hosted vaudeville acts; it evolved into a movie theater, and now it attracts headliners. The theater contains nearly 2,000 seats for patrons to view live entertainment, from concerts to comedians and dramas to dance programs.
Forge Gallery: The Joliet community provides the art on display for the public at the gallery located on Ottawa Street. Members of the Friends of Community Public Art offer up original paintings for sale, and patrons can ask to have private work commissioned by a FCPA member.
Joliet Historical Museum: Found at the corners of Cass and Ottawa streets, the museum opened in 2002 at the site of an old church. With state-of-the-art presentations, including a 12-minute film, the museum offers hands-on exploration about Joliet's history for people of all ages.
Westfield Louis Joliet Mall: Easily accessible off U.S. Highway 30 just southeast of Interstate 55, the shopping mall is open daily. It houses more than 100 retailers, including some major anchor stores.
Joliet residents are served by Joliet Public Schools District 86, which has 12 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools, and 4 magnet schools, as well as an alternative school, a gifted center, and an early childhood center. The district enrolls around 10,000 students, employs about 600 teachers, and covers more than 25 square miles. High schools in Joliet include Joliet Central High School, Joliet West High School, and Joliet Catholic Academy.
Joliet Junior College: Opened in 1901, Joliet Junior College is the nation's first public community college. It currently offers several pre-baccalaureate programs for those students seeking to transfer to a four-year university. With an enrollment of more than 35,000 students, the college's main campus is on Houbolt Road; another campus is in Joliet on North Ottawa, and another is in nearby Morris, Illinois.
University of Saint Francis: The University of Saint Francis is home to more than 1,000 students at its Joliet campus. Established in 1920, the Catholic institution produces some of the top nursing candidates and attorneys in the country. Part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the university is also a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Joliet JackHammers: Established in 2002, the Joliet JackHammers are a professional minor-league baseball team in the Northern Independent League. Because it's an independent league, the JackHammers team is not affiliated with any major league baseball team. The team plays its games at Silver Cross Field just off U.S. Highway 30. A popular statue of a man named "Left Field Louie" using a jackhammer is positioned in left field.
Chicagoland Speedway: The speedway is in the southern part of Joliet, just off Illinois Route 53, and it has seen its share of fiercely competitive races. Its first race took place in 2001, and it now features numerous NASCAR and IRL events. Lights were installed around the track during the 2008 season, making it the tenth NASCAR Sprint Cup facility to host nighttime racing.
Although the Joliet Correctional Center closed in 2002, it is still widely known in the entertainment industry. It was featured in the original The Blues Brothers movie when Jake was released from prison in the opening scene. It was also the location of the first season of the television show Prison Break.