Joliet is the next Your Hometown on Thursday, November 18. Tune-in to hear all about what makes Joliet a unique place to call home.
The third largest city in Illinois and roughly 45 miles southwest of Chicago, Joliet covers nine different townships. Yet the heart and history of Joliet is centered around the Des Plaines River. It is named for the French-Canadian explorer Louis Joliet who came to the area in 1673. For a time, the city was briefly named “Juliet” until it reverted to its original name in 1845.
“The Crossroads of Mid-America” is both a nickname and motto for Joliet which sits at the intersection of I-80 and I-55. The city’s proximity to multiple highways, rail lines and waterways makes it a significant transportation hub and an ideal location for a variety of big business.
“The City of Steel and Stone” is another nickname for Joliet. The city’s steel mill was once the second largest in the U.S. Now part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site incorporates 52 acres and provides residents and visitors alike with a link to connect with the city’s past and learn about its historical significance. As for stone, quarrying for dolomite limestone was Joliet’s first industry and Joliet limestone can be seen in homes, buildings and churches around the area.
Joliet is a must-see destination for motoring enthusiasts and fans of “The Mother Road”. Joliet was a stop on the Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental road. Joliet was also part of the original 1926-1939 and 1940-1977 alignments of Route 66. As such, there are several notable landmarks to visit, including the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center.
Joliet is the only city in Illinois to have two casinos: Harrah’s and Hollywood. The Rialto Square Theatre and Jacob A. Henry Mansion are two notable landmarks in the city center. And, of course, there’s another building known by several names and synonymous with nearly Joliet’s entire history: Old Joliet Prison. Built with Joliet limestone and closed in 2002, visitors can now go behind the prison walls thanks to tours offered by the Joliet Area Historical Museum.
Get to know Joliet:
- Joliet is located in Will and Kendall counties.
- Joliet covers both the Des Plaines and DuPage rivers.
- Joliet has many nicknames: City of Champions, City of Steel, City of Stone, City of Stone and Steel, J-Town and Prison City.
- The first Dairy Queen store opened in Joliet in 1906 on North Chicago Street, along old Route 66.
- The Rialto Square Theatre (102 N. Chicago Street), opened in 1926, is the “Jewel of Joliet.” Called one of the world’s 10 most beautiful theatres, the Rialto’s inner lobby is designed after the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. Originally a vaudeville movie palace, the Rialto Square Theatre operates today as a non-profit performing arts center.
- Jacob A. Henry Mansion (20 South Eastern Avenue), listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the largest and best example of Renaissance Revival architecture standing in the state of Illinois.
- Built of Joliet limestone in 1891, the Auditorium Building, located at the northeast corner of Chicago and Clinton Streets, caused controversy because it was one of the first buildings to combine religious, civic and commercial uses. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the U.S., spoke there.
- Sporting attractions in Joliet include the Joliet Slammers baseball, Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway.
- Pilcher Park, one of Joliet’s oldest parks, is home to over 640 acres of land for wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and Native American burial mound.
Famous people with connections to Joliet:
- Actor John Barrowman
- Comedian, actor and producer Andy Dick
- Actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy
- Stage and film actor Anthony Rapp
- Mike Wolfe, owner of Antique Archaeology and of “American Pickers” TV show fame
- Singer Lionel Richie who was a star tennis player in Joliet and graduated from Joliet Township High School East Campus
- Earl N. Franklin, colonel of the US Air Force and original Tuskegee Airman
- Rapper Da Brat
- Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain of The Smashing Pumpkins
- Actor and comedian Nick Offerman
Have your say in our “Your Hometown” series! Submit your suggestions on which town you think we should feature here. Hear a different “Your Hometown” featured every month.
Your Hometown featuring Barrington is sponsored by @properties, Grain Berry and McDonald’s.