Peoria, Illinois

Peoria (/piˈɔːriə/ pee-OR-ee-ə) is the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois,[4] and the largest city on the Illinois River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 115,007.[5] It is the principal city of the Peoria Metropolitan Area in Central Illinois, consisting of the counties of Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford, which had a population of 373,590 in 2011.

Peoria, Illinois
City of Peoria
Peoria City Hall
Location of Peoria in Peoria County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 40°43′15″N 89°36′34″W
CountryUnited States
Incorporated Town1835
Incorporated City1845
  MayorJim Ardis (R)
  City ManagerPatrick Urich
  City ClerkBeth Ball
  City TreasurerPatrick Nichting
  City50.40 sq mi (130.54 km2)
  Land48.00 sq mi (124.32 km2)
  Water2.40 sq mi (6.22 km2)
509 ft (155 m)
  Density2,300.31/sq mi (888.15/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)309
FIPS code17-59000

Established in 1691 by the French explorer Henri de Tonti, Peoria was later labeled by the Peoria Historical Society to be the oldest European settlement in Illinois.[6] Originally known as Fort Clark, it received its current name when the County of Peoria organized in 1825. The city was named after the Peoria tribe, a member of the Illinois Confederation. On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln made his Peoria speech against the Kansas-Nebraska Act.[7][8]

A major port on the Illinois River, Peoria is a trading and shipping center for a large agricultural area that produces maize, soybeans, and livestock. Although the economy is well diversified, the city's traditional manufacturing industries remain important and produce earthmoving equipment, metal products, lawn-care equipment, labels, steel towers, farm equipment, building materials, steel, wire, and chemicals.[9] Until 2018, Peoria was the global and national headquarters for heavy equipment and engine manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., one of the 30 companies composing the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and listed on the Fortune 100; in the latter year, the company relocated its headquarters to Deerfield, Illinois.[10][11]

The city is associated with the phrase "Will it play in Peoria?", which originated from the vaudeville era and was popularized by Groucho Marx.[12] Museums in the city include the Pettengill-Morron House, the John C. Flanagan House, and the Peoria Riverfront Museum.


Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois, as explorers first ventured up the Illinois River from the Mississippi. The lands that eventually would become Peoria were first settled by Europeans in 1680, when French explorers René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and Henri de Tonti constructed Fort Crevecoeur.[6] This fort would later burn to the ground, and in 1813, Fort Clark, Illinois was built. When the County of Peoria was organized in 1825, Fort Clark was officially named Peoria.[13]

Peoria was named after the Peoria tribe, a member of the Illinois Confederation. The original meaning of the word is uncertain.[14] A 21st-century proposal suggests a derivation from a Proto-Algonquian word meaning "to dream with the help of a manitou."[15]

Peoria was incorporated as a village on March 11, 1835. The city did not have a mayor, though they had a village president, Rudolphus Rouse, who served from 1835 to 1836. The first Chief of Police, John B Lishk, was appointed in 1837. The city was incorporated on April 21, 1845. This was the end of a village president and the start of the mayoral system, with the first mayor being William Hale.

Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, was named after Peoria, Illinois because the two men who founded it in 1890 − Joseph B. Greenhut and Deloss S. Brown − wished to name it after their hometown.[16]

For much of the twentieth century, a red-light district of brothels and bars known as the Merry-Go-Round was part of Peoria.[17]

Richard Pryor got his start as a performer on North Washington Street in the early 1960s.[18]


According to the 2010 census, Peoria has a total area of 50.23 square miles (130.10 km2), of which 48.01 square miles (124.35 km2) (or 95.58%) is land and 2.22 square miles (5.75 km2) (or 4.42%) is water.[19]


Peoria has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with cold, snowy winters, and hot, humid summers. Monthly daily mean temperatures range from 22.5 °F (−5.3 °C) to 75.2 °F (24.0 °C). Snowfall is common in the winter, averaging 26.3 inches (67 cm), but this figure varies considerably from year to year. Precipitation, averaging 36 inches (914 mm), peaks in the spring and summer, and is the lowest in winter. Extremes have ranged from −27 °F (−33 °C) in January 1884 to 113 °F (45 °C) in July 1936.[20]

Climate data for Peoria, Illinois (Peoria Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1883-present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Mean maximum °F (°C) 53
Average high °F (°C) 32.8
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.9
Average low °F (°C) 17.0
Mean minimum °F (°C) −7
Record low °F (°C) −27
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.78
Average snowfall inches (cm) 6.9
trace 1.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.2 8.4 10.4 11.4 11.8 10.1 9.1 9.1 8.1 9.2 9.6 10.1 116.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.8 4.7 2.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.3 5.5 19.9
Average relative humidity (%) 73.9 73.8 70.5 64.7 66.2 67.3 71.7 73.7 72.7 70.4 74.5 78.0 71.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 147.4 155.6 187.9 222.8 272.6 306.9 310.1 279.3 233.2 204.2 127.9 118.7 2,566.6
Percent possible sunshine 53 53 50 57 63 69 70 68 66 62 47 44 60
Source: NOAA (sun and relative humidity 1961–1990)[21][22][23]


Panorama of downtown Peoria, viewed from across the Illinois River in East Peoria. In the middle are the Twin Towers, the Former Caterpillar World Headquarters Building, and the Associated Bank Building

The city of Peoria is home to a United States courthouse and the Peoria Civic Center (which includes Carver Arena). The world headquarters for Caterpillar Inc. was based in Peoria for over 110 years until announcing their move to Deerfield, Illinois in late-2017.[24] Medicine has become a major part of Peoria's economy. In addition to three major hospitals, the USDA's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, formerly called the USDA Northern Regional Research Lab, is located in Peoria. This is one of the labs where mass production of penicillin was developed.[25][26]

Grandview Drive, which Theodore Roosevelt purportedly called the "world's most beautiful drive" during a 1910 visit,[27] runs through both Peoria and Peoria Heights. In addition to Grandview Drive, the Peoria Park District contains 9,000 acres (36 km2) of parks and trails. The Illinois River Bluff Trail connects four Peoria Park District parks: Camp Wokanda, Robinson Park, Green Valley Camp, and Detweiller Park; the Rock Island Greenway (13 miles) connects the State of Illinois Rock Island trail traveling north to Toulon, IL and also connects southeast to East Peoria, IL and to the Morton Community Bikeway. Other parks include the Forest Park Nature Center, which features seven miles of hiking trails through prairie openings and forested woodlands, Glen Oak Park, and Bradley Park, which features Frisbee golf as well as a dog park. Peoria has five public golf courses as well as several private and semi-private golf courses. The Peoria Park District, the first and still largest park district in Illinois, was the 2001 Winner of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation for Class II Parks.[28]


Museums in Peoria include the Pettengill-Morron House, the John C Flanagan House of the Peoria Historical Society, and the Wheels o' Time Museum. The Museum Block, opened on October 12, 2012, houses the Peoria Riverfront Museum, a planetarium, and the Caterpillar World Visitors Center.[29]

Old furniture store in Peoria photographed by John Margolies in 1980

The Peoria Art Guild hosts the Annual Art Fair, which is continually rated as one of the 100 top art fairs in the nation.[30]

Three cultural institutions are located in Glen Oak Park. The Peoria Zoo, formerly Glen Oak Zoo, was expanded and refurbished in recent years. Finished in 2009, the new zoo improvements more than triple the size of the zoo and feature a major African safari exhibit.[31] Luthy Garden, established in 1951, encompasses five acres and offers over a dozen theme gardens and a Conservatory. The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum opened in June 2015 in the Glen Oak Pavilion.

The Steamboat Classic, held every summer, is the world's largest four-mile (6 km) running race and draws international runners.[32]

The Peoria Santa Claus Parade, which started in 1888, is the oldest running holiday parade in the United States.[33]

Peoria's sister cities include Friedrichshafen, Germany; Benxi, China; Clonmel, Ireland; and Aitou, Lebanon.[34][35]

Performing arts

The Peoria Symphony Orchestra is the 14th oldest in the nation. Peoria is also home to the Peoria Municipal Band, the Peoria Area Civic Chorale, the Youth Music Illinois (formerly known as Central Illinois Youth Symphony), and the Peoria Ballet. Several community and professional theaters have their home in and around Peoria, including the Peoria Players, which is the fourth-oldest community theater in the nation and the oldest in Illinois.[36] Corn Stock Theatre is another community theater company in Peoria, and is the only outdoor theater company in Central Illinois.[37]

Peoria has hosted the Heart of Illinois Fair every year since 1949. The fair features livestock competitions, rides, concessions, motor contests and concerts.[38]

Registered historic places

View of Peoria Civic Center, Peoria City Hall, and Peoria's Twin Towers


Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Peoria Chiefs Midwest League Baseball Dozer Park 1983 1 (2002)
Peoria Rivermen Southern Professional Hockey League Ice Hockey Carver Arena 2013 0
Peoria Push Roller Derby WFTDA Apprentice League Roller Derby Expo Gardens 2010 0
Peoria Rugby Football Club D4 Midwest League Rugby Catholic Charities 1958 0
Peoria City USL League Two Association football Shea Stadium (Peoria, Illinois) 2020 0


Peoria is the 153rd largest radio market in the United States[39] and Peoria-Bloomington is the 117th largest television market in the United States.[40]

The area has 14 commercial radio stations with six owners among them; four non-commercial full-power radio stations, each separately owned; five commercial television stations with two operating owners among them; one non-commercial television station; and one daily newspaper (Peoria Journal Star).

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio station WXJ71 transmits from East Peoria and is licensed to NOAA's National Weather Service Central Illinois Weather Forecast Office at Lincoln, broadcasting on a frequency of 162.475 mHz (channel 4 on most newer weather radios, and most SAME weather radios). The station activates the SAME tone alarm feature and a 1050 Hz tone activating older radios (except for AMBER Alerts, using the SAME feature only) for hazardous weather and non-weather warnings and emergencies, along with selected weather watches, for the Illinois counties of Fulton, Knox, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. Weather permitting, a tone alarm test of both the SAME and 1050 Hz tone features are conducted every Wednesday between 11 AM and noon.[41]


Civic Center

Civic Center

The Peoria Civic Center includes an arena, convention center, and theater, and was completed in the early 1980s, was designed by the famed late architect Philip Johnson. It completed a $55 million renovation and expansion by 2007.

The Hotel Pere Marquette finished renovations in 2013[42] with a skyway linking to the Peoria Civic Center. A new 10-story Courtyard has been built adjacent to this hotel, completing a hotel campus for larger conventions.

The Civic Center hosts the Bradley University Men's Basketball team, the IHSA Boys State Basketball Championships and State Chess Championship. Which claims to be the largest chess team tournament in the United States: Beginning in 2018, the teams were narrowed to 128 by the use of sectional elimination competitions, and as of 2018 the tournament has about 1500 players, including up to 8 players and 4 alternates per team.[43]

Renaissance Park

Renaissance Park was originally designated as a research park, originally established in May 2003 as the Peoria Medical and Technology District. It consisted of nine residential neighborhoods, Bradley University, the medical district, and the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research. The Peoria NEXT Innovation Center opened in August 2007 and provides both dry and wet labs, as well as conference and office space for emerging start-up companies. Over $2 billion in research is conducted in Peoria annually.[44] While the Renaissance Park research park project never came to full fruition, many of the original ideas from the original Renaissance Park concept still continue on a smaller level via The Renaissance Park Community Association.[45]

The Block

The Block is a $100+ million project that contains}} the Peoria Riverfront Museum[46] and The Caterpillar Experience,[47] a museum and visitor's center showcasing Caterpillar past, present, and future. It is located in downtown Peoria along the Illinois River at the site formerly known as the Sears Block. The Block opened in October 2012.



Peoria's first major industry was started in 1830 by John Hamlin and John Sharp, who constructed the flour mill on Kickapoo Creek.[48] In 1837, another industry was begun with E.F. Nowland's pork planting industry. Many other industries started slowly in Peoria including carriage factories, pottery makers, wholesale warehousing, casting foundries, glucose factories, ice harvesting, and furniture makers.

Peoria became the first world leader for distilleries thanks to Andrew Eitle (1837) and Almiron S. Cole (1844).[49] During this time, Peoria held 22 distilleries and multiple breweries. Together, they produced the highest amount of internal revenue tax on alcohol of any single revenue district in the entire U.S. Peoria also was one of the major bootlegging areas during Prohibition and home to the famed mobsters, the Shelton brothers. This great success placed Peoria into a building boom of beautiful private homes, schools, parks, churches, as well as municipal buildings.

In addition to the distilleries came farm machinery manufacturing by William Nurse in 1837. Also, two men called Toby and Anderson brought the steel plow circa 1843, which gained immediate success. The dominant manufacturing companies in Peoria were Kingman Plow Co., Acme Harvester Co., Selby, Starr & Co., and Avery Manufacturing Co. In 1889, Keystone Steel & Wire developed the first wire fence and has since been the nation's leading manufacturer.[50][51]

Around the 1880s, businesses such as Rouse Hazard Co. in Peoria, were dealers and importers of bicycles and accessories worldwide. Charles Duryea, one of the cycle manufacturers, developed the first commercially available gasoline-powered automobile in the U.S. in 1893.

At this time, agricultural implement production declined, which led the earth moving and tractor equipment companies to skyrocket and make Peoria in this field the world leader. In 1925, Caterpillar Tractor Co. was formed from California-based companies, Benjamin Holt Co. and the C.L. Best Tractor Co. Robert G. LeTourneau's earth moving company began its production of new scrapers and dozers in 1935 which evolved into Komatsu-Dresser, Haulpak Division.[52] Today, the joint venture between Komatsu and Dresser Industries has long since passed. The entity that remains is the off-highway truck manufacturing division for Komatsu America Corporation.

More recently Peoria has become a regional medical hub for central Illinois with recent hospital expansions.


The city's largest mall is Northwoods Mall.[53] Other retail centers include The Shoppes at Grand Prairie,[54] Sheridan Village, Metro Centre,[55] Willow Knolls Court, and Westlake Shopping Center.


Top employers

According to Peoria's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[57] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Caterpillar 12,000
2 OSF Saint Francis Medical Center 12,000
3 UnityPoint Health 4,991
4 Peoria Public Schools District 150 2,891
5 Bradley University 1,300
6 Advanced Technology Services 1,073
7 Keystone Steel & Wire 912
8 City of Peoria 888
9 Peoria County 831
10 Citizens Equity First Credit Union 814


Historical population
2019 (est.)110,417[2]−4.0%

As of the census[59] of 2010, there were 115,021 people and 47,202 households residing in the city. The population density was 2,543.4 people per square mile (982.1/km2). There were 52,621 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 62.4% White, 26.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 4.6% Asian, and 3.6% of mixed races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.9% of the population. The city has a sizable, established Lebanese population with a long history in local business and government.

There were 45,199 households, out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. Individuals made up 33.2% of all households, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.04.

The city population was 25.7% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,397. The per capita income for the city was $20,512. Some 18.8% of the population was below the poverty line.

Special censuses were conducted in 2004 and 2007 that noted a total increase of 8,455 in the city's population since the 2000 census.[60]

Government and politics

Peoria is a home rule municipality with a mayor and ten city council members. It has a council-manager form of government. The city is divided into five districts. Five council members are elected at-large via cumulative voting.

Elected officials[61]
OfficeOffice holder
MayorJim Ardis
City Councilperson – District 1Denise Moore
City Councilperson – District 2Chuck Grayeb
City Councilperson – District 3Timothy Riggenbach
City Councilperson – District 4Jim Montelongo
City Councilperson – District 5Denis Cyr
City Councilperson – At LargeRita Ali
City Councilperson – At LargeZachary M. Oyler
City Councilperson – At LargeSid Ruckriegel
City Councilperson – At LargeElizabeth Jensen
City Councilperson – At LargeJohn L. Kelly
City/Township ClerkBeth Ball
City Treasurer/Township CollectorPatrick Nichting
Township SupervisorFrank Abdnour
Township AssessorMax Schlafley

Township of the City of Peoria

Outline of the Township of the City of Peoria in Peoria County

The Township of the City of Peoria (sometimes called City of Peoria Township) is a separate government from the City of Peoria, and performs the functions of civil township government in most of the city. The township was created by the Peoria County Board to match the boundaries of the City of Peoria, which until then had overlapped portions of Peoria Township (now West Peoria Township) and Richwoods Township.[62] The border of the township grew with the Peoria city limits until 1990, when it was frozen at its current boundaries, containing about 53 square miles (140 km2);[63] the City of Peoria itself has continued expanding outside the City of Peoria Township borders into Kickapoo, Medina, and Radnor township. In the years before the freeze, the Township of the City of Peoria had grown to take up most of the former area of Richwoods and what is now West Peoria Township.


The Dingeldine Music Center at Bradley University

Peoria is served by four public K-12 school districts:

  • Peoria Public Schools District 150 is the largest and serves the majority of the city. District 150 schools include dozens of primary and middle schools, as well as three public high schools: Richwoods High School, which hosts the competitive International Baccalaureate Program of study; Manual High School; and Peoria High School (Central), the oldest high school in Illinois. Until the end of the 2009–2010 school year, a fourth high school, Woodruff High School, closed. According to SchoolDigger, District 150 has the highest-ranking middle school (Washington Gifted Middle School).
  • Peoria District 150 is also served by Quest Charter Academy, a STEM focused school serving grades 5-12. Quest is the only charter school in the area and began in 2010.
  • Dunlap Community Unit School District 323 serves the far north and northwest parts of Peoria that were mostly outside the city before the 1990s. Dunlap schools has Dunlap High School, 2 Middle Schools and 5 Elementary schools.
  • Limestone Community School District 310 serves a small portion of the western edge of the City of Peoria (western edges of Wardcliffe and Lexington Hills areas), but mainly serves the suburbs of Bartonville, Bellevue and surrounding towns.
  • Peoria Heights School District 325 serves the suburb of Peoria Heights; however, parts of the City of Peoria immediately outside the Heights are in this school district.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria runs six schools in the city: five grade schools and Peoria Notre Dame High School. Non-denominational Peoria Christian School operates a grade school, middle school, and high school.

In addition, Concordia Lutheran School, Peoria Academy, Christ Lutheran School, and several smaller private schools exist.

Bradley University, Methodist College, OSF St. Francis College of Nursing, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, the Downtown and North campuses of Illinois Central College, and the Peoria campus of Roosevelt University are based in the city. Additionally, Eureka College and the main campus of Illinois Central College are located nearby in Eureka and East Peoria, respectively.


Health and medicine

The health-care industry accounts for at least 25% of Peoria's economy. The city has three major hospitals: OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, UnityPoint Health – Methodist, and UnityPoint Health – Proctor. In addition, the Children's Hospital of Illinois, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, and the Midwest Affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are located in the city. The hospitals are all located in a medical district around the junction of Interstate 74 and Knoxville Avenue, adjacent to downtown in the southeast of the city, except for UnityPoint Health – Proctor in the geographic center of the city. The surrounding towns are also supported by UnityPoint Health – Proctor, Pekin Hospital, Advocate Eureka Hospital, and the Hopedale Medical Complex. The Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was created from the "Peoria Plan for Human Rehabilitation," a model for medical and occupational rehabilitation launched in 1943 to integrate returning World War II veterans back into the workplace.


The twin steel truss bridges known as McClugage Bridge, spanning the Illinois River at Peoria

Interstate and U.S. routes

The Peoria area is served by three Interstate highways: Interstate 74, which runs from northwest to southeast through the downtown area, Interstate 474, a southern bypass of I-74 through portions of Peoria and the suburbs of Bartonville and Creve Coeur, and Interstate 155, which runs south from I-74 in Morton to Interstate 55 in Lincoln which connects to Springfield and St. Louis. I-74 crosses over the Illinois River via the Murray Baker Bridge, while I-474 crosses via the Shade-Lohmann Bridge. The nearest metropolitan centers accessible on I-74 are the Quad Cities to the west, and Bloomington-Normal to the east.

From 2004 to 2006, Interstate 74 between Interstate 474 on the west and Illinois Route 8 on the east was reconstructed as part of the Upgrade 74 project.

In addition, U.S. Route 150 serves as the main arterial for the northern portion of the Peoria area, becoming War Memorial Drive before heading west towards Kickapoo. It enters from the McClugage Bridge; east of the bridge, U.S. 150 runs southeast to Morton.

State routes

The following state routes run through Peoria:

  • Illinois Route 6 runs along the northwestern portion of the city as an extension of I-474. It is a four-lane freeway that runs from the I-74/474 intersection northeast to Illinois Route 29 south of Chillicothe. It is marked as a north–south road.
  • Illinois Route 8 roughly parallels I-74 to the south. It enters Peoria from Elmwood and runs southeast through the city, passing just southwest of the downtown area. Illinois 8 crosses into East Peoria via the Cedar Street Bridge with 116. Illinois 8 is marked as an east–west road.
  • Illinois Route 29 runs through Peoria along the Illinois River from Chillicothe through downtown Peoria. It then joins Interstate 74 across the Murray Baker Bridge. Illinois 29 is marked as a north–south road, and is called Galena Road north of U.S. 150.
  • Illinois Route 40 (formerly 88) enters Peoria from the north as Knoxville Avenue. It runs south through the center of the city and exits southeast over the Bob Michel Bridge. Illinois 40 is marked as a north–south road.
  • Illinois Route 91 briefly enters Peoria at the intersection with U.S. 150 in the far northwestern portion of the city. Traffic on Illinois 91 mainly accesses the Shoppes at Grand Prairie,[64] or continues to Dunlap.
  • Illinois Route 116 enters from the west at Bellevue. It runs directly east and crosses into East Peoria over the Cedar Street Bridge.

The planned Illinois Route 336 project will also connect Illinois 336 with I-474 between Illinois 8 and Illinois 116. Construction on the segment nearest Peoria has not started, nor has funding been allocated.

Rail transportation

Metro Peoria is served by ten common carrier railroads. Four are Class I railroads: BNSF, CNR, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific. The last one, Union Pacific, has a north–south oriented line which skirts the west edge of the city but a line branches off of it to enter Peoria. One Class II/Regional, Iowa Interstate, serves the city, coming out of Bureau Junction, Illinois. Five Class III/Shortline railroads: Central Illinois Railroad, which operates a portion of the city-owned Peoria, Peoria Heights and Western Railroad; three Genesee and Wyoming-owned operations: Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway, which runs next to US 24 east to Logansport, Indiana (formally owned by Rail America), Illinois & Midland Railroad (the former Chicago and Illinois Midland, comes up from Springfield and Havana) and Tazewell and Peoria Railroad (leases the Peoria and Pekin Union Railway from its owners Canadian National, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific); Pioneer Railcorp's Keokuk Junction Railway (which now owns the Toledo, Peoria and Western's West End from Lomax and La Harpe in Western Illinois, plus the branch from Keokuk).

There is no passenger rail connecting Peoria to other urban centers, although this possibility and the possibility of rail service that connects St. Louis to Chicago (by way of Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and Pontiac) has been and is being investigated.[65]

Peoria was a minor passenger rail hub until the 1950s. Several Midwestern railroads fed into Peoria Union Station until 1955. The Rock Island Railroad operated trains into its Rock Island Depot.

Peoria's last intercity rail service ended when the Rock Island Railroad ran its last Peoria Rocket train into the Rock Island Depot in 1978. The area's last intercity rail service ended in 1981, when Amtrak withdrew the Prairie Marksman (Chicago-East Peoria), which stopped in nearby East Peoria. The nearest Amtrak rail service is at Galesburg to the northwest and Bloomington to the southeast.

Public transportation

Public bus service is provided by the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District, which operates 21 bus routes under the name CityLink, that serve the city, Illinois Central College and much of East Peoria, Illinois, Peoria Heights, West Peoria, and points between Peoria and Pekin.[66]


The General Wayne Downing Peoria International Airport is located west of Peoria. The airport is served by 4 passenger airlines (United, American, Delta, and Allegiant Air) and numerous cargo carriers. Nonstop destinations include Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix, and Charlotte.[67] Cargo carriers serving Peoria include UPS and Airborne Express (now DHL).

Mount Hawley Auxiliary Airport, on the north end of the city, also accepts general aviation.

Points of interest

Waterfront in Peoria, Illinois, c. 1909

Notable people

Notable events


  • Peoria has been awarded the All-America City Award four times (1953, 1966, 1989 and 2013).
  • In 2007, Forbes ranked Peoria No. 47 out of the largest 150 metropolitan areas in its annual "Best Places for Business and Careers." Peoria was evaluated on the cost of doing business, cost of living, entertainment opportunities, and income growth.[73]
  • In 2005, Bert Sperling and Peter Sanders' "Best Places to Live Rankings" among 331 metropolitan areas placed Peoria No. 51, citing "low cost of living, low cost of housing, and attractive residential areas" as the main pros to the area.[74]
  • Peoria was ranked a 5 Star Logistics City by Expansion Management Magazine in 2007[75]
  • Peoria consistently ranks in the Top 10 Best Mannered Cities in America as compiled by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart.[76]
  • Peoria was ranked as one of the "50 Next Great Adventure Towns" in the US in the September 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine. This was mainly based on the extensive mountain biking trails in and around the city and the live entertainment options found on the RiverFront.[77]
  • In 2009, Peoria was ranked 16th best city with a population of 100,000−200,000 ("Mighty Micros") in the U.S. Next Cities List. The list was compiled by Next Generation Consulting, a firm which studies and consults on hiring trends and workplace issues nationwide, and the indexes used were divided into earning, learning, vitality, around town, after hours, cost of lifestyle and social capital. Top Mighty Micro was Fort Collins, Colorado; the other Mighty Micro in Illinois was Springfield at No. 5.[78]
  • In 2009, Peoria was ranked No. 5 best mid-sized city to launch a small business by CNN Money and Fortune Small Business.[79]
  • Milken Institute released its Best Performing Metropolitan Areas listing for 2008 and the Peoria Area ranked No. 33 among the top 200 largest metropolitan areas in the country. It was the highest ranking area in Illinois with Chicago coming in next at No. 148.[80]


Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria

The theme of Peoria as the archetypal example of middle American culture runs throughout American culture, appearing in movies and books, on television and radio, and in countless advertisements as either a filler place name, the representative of mainstream taste, hence the phrase "Will it play in Peoria?"[81][82][83]


On the Songs: Ohia album called The Magnilia Electric Co (2003) there is a song by Jason Molina called "Peoria Lunch Box Blues".

  • In Sufjan Stevens' album Illinois, Peoria is the subject of the song titled "Prairie Fire That Wanders About." Stevens makes reference to multiple figures in Peoria's history, including Lydia Moss Bradley, and also speaks of Peoria's Santa Claus parade, the longest running in the nation.
  • "Peoria" by King Crimson was recorded at The Barn in Peoria on March 10, 1972, included in the live album Earthbound.

News commentary

  • In 1977, the news magazine Time used Peoria as a form of "et cetera" in an article on the proliferation of new vineyards in America, calling them "the new Chateaux Peorias...."
  • A 2009 issue of National Geographic states in its "The Big Idea" section that electron-dispensing filling stations, a now-possible idea difficult to implement on a large scale, will soon "play even in Peoria".[84]
  • Peoria ranked as second 'worst city for Black Americans' to live in 2017 study by 24/7 Wall Street [85][86]

See also


  1. "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  3. "29 ZIP Code Results for listing Peoria, IL a "Primary city"". Archived from the original on June 7, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
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