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Peoria, Illinois
Peoria City Hall.JPG
Peoria City Hall
Nickname: "The River City", "Whiskeytown"
Country United States
State Illinois
County Peoria
Elevation 509 ft (155.1 m)
Coordinates 40°43′15″N 89°36′34″W / 40.72083°N 89.60944°W / 40.72083; -89.60944
Area 50.23 sq mi (130.1 km²)
 - land 48.01 sq mi (124 km²)
 - water 2.22 sq mi (6 km²)
Population 115,828 (2014)
 - metro 373,590
Density 2,543.4 /sq mi (982 /km²)
Settled 1680
 - Incorporated, Town 1835
 - Incorporated, City 1845
Government Council-Manager
 - location Peoria City Hall
Mayor Jim Ardis
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes
Area code 309

Peoria ( PEE-or-EE-uh) is a city in and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, United States, and the largest city on the Illinois River. Established in 1691 by the French explorer Henri de Tonti, Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois, and is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois (and the third largest outside of the Chicago metropolitan area), with a population of 115,007. The Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 373,590 in 2011. Peoria had a population of 118,943 in 2010, when far northern Peoria was also included. Peoria is, until later in 2017 when a move of some executive and support staff (in the end, about 300) to Chicago will begin, the global and national headquarters for Caterpillar Inc., one of the 30 companies composing the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and listed on the Fortune 100. Around 12,000 jobs will still remain in the Peoria area.


Peoria is one of the oldest settlements in Illinois, as explorers first ventured up the Illinois River from the Mississippi. The lands that eventually would become Peoria were first settled in 1680, when French explorers René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and Henri de Tonti constructed Fort Crevecoeur. 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.

Peoria was named after the Peoria tribe, a member of the Illinois Confederation. The name "Peoria" derives from their autonym or name for themselves in the Illinois language, peewaareewa (modern pronunciation peewaalia). Originally it meant, "Comes carrying a pack on his back." No speakers of the Peoria language survive. A 21st-century proposal suggests a derivation from a Proto-Algonquian word meaning "to dream with the help of a manitou."

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.


Peoria is located at 40°43′15″N 89°36′34″W / 40.72083°N 89.60944°W / 40.72083; -89.60944 (40.720737, -89.609421).


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.

Peoria is bounded on the east by the Illinois River except for the enclave of Peoria Heights, which also borders the river. Four bridges run directly between the city and neighboring East Peoria. On the south end of Peoria's western border are Bartonville and the newly established city of West Peoria. Local municipal plans indicate that the city intends to continue its expansion northwest, into an area unofficially considered part of Dunlap, Illinois.


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.

Climate data for Peoria, Illinois (Peoria Int'l), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 32.8
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.9
Average low °F (°C) 17.0
Record low °F (°C) −27
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.78
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.9
Trace 1.1
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
Avg. 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
Avg. 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
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
Source: NOAA (sun and relative humidity 1961–1990)


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

Peoria's downtown area includes corporate, governmental, convention, educational, and medical facilities. It is also home to the Peoria Civic Center, Theatres, and Dozer Park, as well as an arts, dining, and entertainment area near the riverfront. The downtown area now also includes high-rise residential developments such as condominia, apartments, and riverfront lofts. Some of these were office buildings and warehouses converted to residential use.

The city of Peoria is home to a United States courthouse, the Peoria Civic Center (which includes Carver Arena), and the world headquarters for Caterpillar Inc. was based in Peoria for over 110 years until annoucing their move to Chicago in late 2017. 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 the lab where mass production of penicillin was developed.

Grandview Drive, which Theodore Roosevelt purportedly called the "world's most beautiful drive" during a 1910 visit, runs through Peoria and Peoria Heights. In addition to Grandview Drive, the Peoria Park District boasts 9,000 acres (36 km2) of parks, including the Peoria Zoo and five public golf courses. There are also 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.


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

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

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. 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.

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

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

Peoria is the home to many great songwriters, musicians, and lyricists, prominent among them Richard A. Whiting. Whiting was born in Peoria in 1891, and inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1970. His first hit, "It's Tulip Time in Holland" sold more than one million copies in just a few months in 1915 though, because he sold it outright, he never received any royalties. In 1918, his song, "Til We Meet Again," sold five million copies. Whiting, having graduated from a California military academy, sung in vaudeville shows, and worked in Detroit and New York, went to Hollywood in 1929. In nine years of writing music for films, he produced more than 50 hit songs, including "On the Good Ship Lollipop", made famous by Shirley Temple in 1934. Other music includes "Hooray for Hollywood", "Ain't We Got Fun?," and "Beyond the Blue Horizon". He scored several Broadway shows and worked with some of the most successful lyricists of his day, including Raymond B. Egan, Gus Kahn, and Johnny Mercer. Al Jolson, Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Bing Crosby, and Ethel Merman were among the stars who sang his melodies. Richard Whiting died of a heart attack in 1938, when he was only 46.

Performing arts

Peoria Symphony Orchestra is the 10th oldest in the nation. Peoria is also home to the Peoria Municipal Band, the Peoria Area Civic Chorale, the 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. Corn Stock Theatre is another community theater company in Peoria, and is the only outdoor theater company in Central Illinois.

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


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

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.

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. The three structures are connected via an enclosed glass panel arcade for all-weather protection and aesthetics. As of 2007, it has completed a $55 million renovation and expansion based on demand for larger conventions and entertainment venues.

Renovations to the older Pere Marquette have been completed by hotel developer Gary Matthews. It is now a full-service Marriott Hotel with a skyway linking to the Peoria Civic Center. A new 12-story Courtyard has been built adjacent to this hotel, completing a hotel campus for larger conventions.

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, Caterpillar world headquarters, 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. 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.

The Block (formerly Museum Square)

The Block is a $100+ million project that contains the Peoria Riverfront Museum and The Caterpillar Experience, 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.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 1,467
1850 5,095 247.3%
1860 14,045 175.7%
1870 22,849 62.7%
1880 29,259 28.1%
1890 41,024 40.2%
1900 56,100 36.7%
1910 66,950 19.3%
1920 76,121 13.7%
1930 104,969 37.9%
1940 105,087 0.1%
1950 111,856 6.4%
1960 103,162 −7.8%
1970 126,963 23.1%
1980 124,160 −2.2%
1990 113,504 −8.6%
2000 112,936 −0.5%
2010 115,007 1.8%
Est. 2015 115,070 0.1%

As of the census 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.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 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, mainly in the northwest corridor making the current population 121,391. The metropolitan area has a population of 370,000, which includes Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Stark and Marshall counties. Suburbs and towns in this area include Bartonville, Bellevue, Creve Coeur, Dunlap, East Peoria, Germantown Hills, Groveland, Marquette Heights, Metamora, Morton, North Pekin, Norwood, Pekin, Peoria Heights, Pottstown, Rome, Tremont, Washington, and West Peoria.

Points of interest

Waterfront in Peoria, Illinois
Waterfront in Peoria, Illinois, c. 1909

Notable events

  • September 19 to October 21, 1813 − Peoria War
  • 1844 − Abraham Lincoln came to Peoria to get involved in the Aquilla Wren divorce case and took it to the Supreme Court of Illinois
  • October 16, 1854 − Abraham Lincoln first publicized his stand that the United States should move towards restricting and eventually eliminating slavery, a position directly against historic compromises such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The speech, which was possibly similar to one given in Springfield, Illinois, 12 days earlier, followed the speech of Stephen A. Douglas, whom Lincoln would later debate regularly in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
  • April 15, 1926 − Charles Lindbergh's first air mail route, Contract Air Mail route #2, began running mail from Chicago to Peoria to Springfield to St. Louis and back. There is nothing to substantiate the local legend that Lindbergh offered Peoria the chance to sponsor his trans-Atlantic flight and call his plane the "Spirit of Peoria".
  • 1942 − Penicillium chrysogenum, the fungus originally used to industrially produce penicillin, was first isolated from a mouldy cantaloupe found in a grocery store in Peoria.
  • Theodore Roosevelt called Grandview Drive, a street on the bluffs overlooking the Illinois River "the world's most beautiful drive." The Peoria radio station and CBS television affiliate WMBD attached the description to its call sign.
  • October 5, 1984 – Michael Jordan made his first appearance as a professional player (Chicago Bulls), in Peoria, in a preseason game against the Indiana Pacers. Jordan scored 18 points in 29 minutes in Chicago's 102-98 victory.


  • Peoria has been awarded the All-America City Award four times (1953, 1966, 1989 and 2013).
  • In 2007, Forbes ranked Peoria #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.
  • In 2005, Bert Sperling and Peter Sanders' "Best Places to Live Rankings" among 331 metropolitan areas placed Peoria #51, citing "low cost of living, low cost of housing, and attractive residential areas" as the main pros to the area.
  • Peoria was ranked a 5 Star Logistics City by Expansion Management Magazine in 2007
  • Peoria consistently ranks in the Top 10 Best Mannered Cities in America as compiled by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart.
  • 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.
  • 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 #5.
  • In 2009, Peoria was ranked #5 best mid-sized city to launch a small business by CNN Money and Fortune Small Business.
  • Milken Institute released its Best Performing Metropolitan Areas listing for 2008 and the Peoria Area ranked #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 #148.


  • Anglican Church in North America, Diocese of Quincy − diocese seat is in Peoria
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria

Peoria in popular culture

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?".


  • Advertisements for the Gillette Atra razor once asked, "Do they pivot in Peoria?"


Peoria is usually used in a complimentary—and positive—fashion in advertising; in contrast, most fictional allusions are an obvious affront and literary usage often implies that "Peoria" is equivalent to "provincial".

  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Up Doc? Bugs joins Elmer Fudd's vaudeville act, opening it in Peoria.
  • In an episode of I Love Lucy, Fred and Ethel reminisce about their vaudeville act playing in Peoria.
  • In the Season Two episode, "Motel," of The Bob Newhart Show, Jerry convinces Bob to drive to Peoria and stay in a hotel over the weekend in order to watch a game that is blacked out in Chicago.
  • Peoria, being the hometown of Richard Pryor, also became the hometown of Pryor's most famous alter-ego, "Mudbone." Mudbone would refer to Peoria during his appearances in Pryor's stand-up routine.
  • In 1999, the comic strip B.C. was blunt about Peoria's reputation: A girl asks at Peter's Drug Store, "I want the most exotic perfume you got": "That would be 'Evening in Paris, Champs-Élysées' … sixty dollars an ounce"; "What do you have for three bucks?"; "'Midnight in Peoria, Route 24, Junction Eight'"!
  • In Emma Lathen's When in Greece: "Charlie's responsibilities took him far too often to places he preferred leaving to vacationing college students or retired Peoria car dealers."
  • Peoria was mentioned by Tom Servo in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 12 of season 8.
  • In the Futurama episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV", an execu-bot mutters, "It will play in Peoria".
  • Peoria is frequently referenced in the old-time radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly, inasmuch as their stars, Jim and Marian Jordan, were originally from Peoria themselves.
  • In The Simpsons episode The Ten-Per-Cent Solution, Annie, played by Joan Rivers, mentions to Krusty about "Playing in Peoria".
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Good Morning, Peoria", Sam Beckett leaps into a body of DJ of a fictional radio station WOF 730-AM. This portrayal of Peoria isn't historical; rather, Peoria is more metaphorical. It portrayals a generational conflict that occurred in late 1950s in America.
  • The novel The Pale King by David Foster Wallace is set in Peoria.
  • The character Ava Wilson in Supernatural was from Peoria.
  • The character Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS stated that he previously worked for three different police departments prior to joining the agency, one of which was in Peoria.
  • The 1929 Best Picture winner, The Broadway Melody ends with Hank and her singing partner traveling to Peoria to break in their act with the goal of returning to Broadway in the fall.
  • The novel Lookin' for Luv by Carl Weber on pg. 66 states that the character Shawn grew up in Peoria.
  • In the Guitar Hero games, some of the characters you can select have hometowns and biographies set in Peoria.
  • Experimental writer William S. Burroughs mentions Peoria in his books Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, and Interzone.


  • 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 in March 10, 1972, included in the live album Earthbound.

Video games

  • The first level of the arcade game Rampage.
  • Peoria is a level on the indie game Woah Dave!
  • Peoria is featured in the 2001 Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel.

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