Located 45 miles south of Chicago's Loop, Joliet has a population of about 152,000. Joliet sits on the shores of the Des Plaines River. Because of its ease of accessibility to Chicago, it has become a Mecca for people who work in Chicago, but choose to live in the suburbs. Downtown Chicago is less than an hour by rail from Joliet. The winters are quite harsh in Joliet but the spring and summer is quite moderate, if somewhat humid. Joliet was chosen one of 30 finalists for the All America City Award by the National Civic League. It is considered a fun and friendly place to live. Today Joliet is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and Will County is the second fastest growing county in Illinois.
In the late 1990s, Joliet had a downturn in the economy when many industries moved or closed. The city has rebounded through the opening of several casinos and by making itself into a hub for tourism. Its NASCAR raceway brings in tourists every year as well. The population continues to rise because of that, and also due to people working in Chicago but living in Joliet. Today the city is thriving and doing a major renovation of downtown.
Joliet is a very popular tourist city. It has many attractions, such as the NASCAR raceway, several big casinos, a successful minor league baseball team, the Rialto Theater (which has many big shows every year), and a 20 acre waterpark. There is camping on the river. Within the city there are some beautiful parks and the Bird Haven Greenhouse and Conservatory is a popular spot. Joliet boasts some great golf courses. There are many historical buildings to tour, plus the Jacob Henry Museum is a popular attraction. In July there is a WaterWay Daze Festival, and in September there are a Latin Music Festival and a Pumpkin Festival. There is a farmer's market every Friday in downtown.
In 1834 James Campbell began to build out the plans for the village of ‘Juliet", named after his daughter. In 1845, residents changed the name to the current Joliet, probably after the French Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet. Settlers to the area found fertile soil, abundant forests, coal and a river capable of sustaining farming and industry. Limestone quarries made Joliet a very prosperous industry in the late 1800s. Coal made a thriving industry there as well.