This week, we’re bringing you the latest on the city of Aurora, which is the second most populous city in the state of Illinois. If you’re moving to Aurora from a major metro area, you’ll be pleased to learn that the area has a large and exciting feel. Aurora has even been coined with the nickname the “City of Lights,” since it was one of the first cities in the United States to use an all-electric street lighting system. The “City of Lights” title is appropriate, as Aurora is a vibrant home to impressive architecture, a casino and the historic Paramount Theatre.
Though Aurora was originally founded in Kane County, the city’s limits and population also spill into DuPage, Will and Kendall Counties.
The current average listing price for a home in Aurora is $176,735. The average sales price for a home sold in Kane County in 2012 is $157,400, so house hunting in Aurora could save you some money versus other areas of metro Chicago.
The number of Chicago new home sales in Aurora has dropped 17.2 percent during the past year, though recent reports from the Illinois Association of Realtors show that overall home sales in Kane County increased by 25 percent last fall, indicating an upswing in activity may be underway.
Aurora has a population of 199,672 and from 2000 to 2009, Aurora was the 46th fastest growing city nationwide with a population of more than 100,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income for the area is $59,844.
Local school districts include: Aurora East School District 131, Aurora West School District 129, Indian Prairie School District 204 and Oswego Community Unit School District 308. The area is also home to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a public residential high school which enrolls students in grades 10-12 in its advanced college prep program. Students at the academy conduct research with scholars at more than 100 prestigious institutions, including Loyola Medical Center and Argonne National Laboratory.
Aurora is also home to three Catholic High Schools: Rosary, Marmion Academy and Aurora Central Catholic in addition to seven Catholic elementary schools. Aurora Central Catholic School received honors for being one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the U.S. in 2004 and 2005.
Residents interested in higher education opportunities can attend Aurora University as well as Rasmussen College and Waubonsee Community College. Aurora University offers undergraduate majors, 17 master’s degrees and several graduate certificates in education, nursing and business and doctoral degrees in education and social work.
If you’re new to the “City of Lights,” you may be wondering where to go to shop, dine, eat and play. Here’s a rundown of some of the best options.
- Chicago Premium Outlets. This is one of Aurora’s most notable attractions. The outlet mall features more than 120 stores that offer great deals on brands ranging from Coach and Polo to Calvin Klein and Lacoste.
- Westfield Fox Valley Mall. Anchor stores include: Carson Pirie Scott, JCPenney, Macy’s and Sears. Fox Valley Mall also features a good mix of men’s, women’s and children clothing stores as well as a variety of specialty shops
- Boombah Retail Store. This specialty athletic shop carries men’s, women’s and youth sports apparel as well as performance and fitness footwear, accessories and equipment. You can also find workout clothes and gear by Glyder, a woman’s fitness and exercise apparel line.
- River’s Edge Cafe. The best coffeehouse in downtown Aurora, River’s Edge Café is committed to providing a welcoming, community atmosphere to its customers as well as high-quality coffee, food, smoothies and baked goods.
- Wurst Kitchen. This specialty meat shop has been in business since 1895, and there’s a good reason for the longevity. Visitors come from across the country to enjoy the more than 80 different varieties of Wurst Kitchen European style sausages, all of which contain no fillers, chemicals, water or preservatives.
- Two Brothers Roundhouse. A sister location to the original Two Brothers Brewery in Warrenville, Ill. Enjoy craft beer and a wide menu of American pub fare that includes entrees such as seared duck and bison meatloaf.
- The Paramount Theatre. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Paramount Theatre hosts a variety of plays, musicals, concerts, comedy shows and other acts. Upcoming performances include the Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof. The theatre is also the sponsor of the Downtown Alive! Music Festival Series, which celebrates music’s biggest stars as well as emerging artists.
- Hollywood Casino. One of the only casinos in the area to offer live Texas Hold ‘Em poker.
- Historic Downtown on Stolp Island. This island is located on the Fox River and includes 41 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Paramount Theatre. The Aurora Public Library and Hotel Aurora are also on Stolp Island.
- Phillips Park. A park located on more than 325 acres that also includes a zoo, golf course, aquatic center and an English-estate inspired sunken garden that boasts more than 10,000 tulips in the spring.
- Metra: Residents can get downtown using Metra’s BNSF Railway Line. The Aurora station is located at 233 N. Broadway.
- Highways: Aurora is 37 miles west of Chicago, and residents can access the city via I-290.
- Airports: Aurora is 50 minutes from O’Hare International Airport and about 50 minutes from Midway International Airport.
If you are seeking a suburban Chicago community that has a larger, more urban feel, the city of Aurora has plenty to offer, from outlet malls and theatre to plenty of family-owned restaurants.