Elgin IL Homes & Real Estate

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Elgin, is a city situated in Cook and Kane counties within the state of Illinois, USA. Positioned 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Chicago, Elgin graces the banks of the Fox River. According to the 2020 census, the city boasts a population of 114,797 residents, securing its rank as the sixth-most populous city in the state.

History of Elgin:

The founding of Elgin can be traced back to the aftermath of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832. These events led to the displacement of Native American settlements and burial grounds in the region, paving the way for the establishment of Elgin. Stories of the area's fertile lands and abundant springs reached the ears of James T. Gifford and his brother Hezekiah Gifford in New York, prompting their westward journey. In April 1835, they founded the city, christening it "Elgin" after the beloved Scottish tune.

Early Elgin gained renown for its dairy products, particularly butter, which it supplied to the burgeoning city of Chicago. In 1866, Gail Borden set up a condensed milk factory in Elgin, leading to the naming of the local library in his honor. The prominence of the dairy industry waned with the arrival of the Elgin Watch Company. This iconic watch factory, operational from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, became the largest producer of fine watches in the United States. Although the factory ceased production in 1965 and was later demolished in 1966, the legacy of Elgin timepieces lives on, with clocks at Chicago's Union Station still bearing the Elgin name.

During the years 1910 to 1920, excluding the World War I period, Elgin hosted the Elgin National Road Races. These races, sponsored by the Elgin Watch Company, attracted top national racing champions and major automobile manufacturers, contributing significantly to the advancement of the modern automobile.

Education and Innovation:

Elgin boasts a rich tradition of education and innovation. It is home to the Elgin Academy, the oldest coeducational, non-sectarian college preparatory school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Elgin High School counts among its alumni five Navy admirals, a Nobel Prize winner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Tony Award winner, two Academy Award-winning producers, Olympic athletes, and a General Motors CEO. Notable inventors from Elgin include John Murphy, who invented the motorized streetsweeper in 1914 and later founded the Elgin Sweeper Corporation, and Lloyd Hall, a pioneering African-American chemist. Additionally, Earl "Madman" Muntz, a legendary marketer and car stereo pioneer, hailed from Elgin, as did Max Adler, the founder of the Adler In 2013, Elgin secured the top spot in the Chicago metropolitan area for new home starts and ranked second for new home closings. The city's downtown area has undergone significant revitalization and expansion, with numerous new developments taking shape. Over the past decade, a variety of new residential options, including townhouses, condo towers, and loft spaces, have emerged alongside art galleries, adding vibrancy to the urban landscape.

October 2003 marked the relocation of the Gail Borden Public Library to a state-of-the-art facility costing $30 million. Spanning 139,980 square feet with a capacity for 460,000 volumes, the library also opened its inaugural satellite branch in August 2009. Situated on Elgin's West Side, the LEED-registered Rakow Branch covers 10,000 square feet and is designed for future expansion up to 30,000 square feet. Additionally, Elgin unveiled the Centre of Elgin recreation facility, spanning 185,000 square feet, adjacent to the library. In recognition of its outstanding service, the Gail Borden Public Library was honored with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2009, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington D.C. In 2014, Elgin completed the Central Business District Streetscape Improvement Project and the Riverside Drive Promenade, further enhancing the city's aesthetic appeal and urban amenities.

In the 1990s, Elgin emerged as one of the few northern Illinois cities to host a riverboat casino, the Grand Victoria Casino. Despite initial controversies, the casino became a significant revenue generator for the city, attracting nearly four million visitors annually by March 2005 and ranking as the fifth most popular tourist attraction in Illinois. The Grand Victoria Foundation, supported by contributions from the casino totaling over $116 million, provides grants to local nonprofits. However, in recent years, attendance and revenue at the Grand Victoria Casino have declined, influenced by the opening of additional casinos in the region.

The civic spirit of Elgin is characterized by active grassroots organizations, fostering a strong sense of community pride and volunteerism. In recognition of its civic engagement, Elgin was honored with the prestigious All-America City Award by the National Civic League in 2002, marking the city's commitment to fostering inclusive and vibrant communities.

Planetarium in Chicago, America's first planetarium.

Elgin Culture and Arts

Elgin boasts a vibrant cultural scene, anchored by the renowned Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Alongside this prestigious ensemble, the city is home to several other classical music groups, including the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Master Chorale, and the Elgin Children's Chorus. Outdoor music enthusiasts can enjoy performances at the Wing Park Bandshell. Theatre aficionados will find a variety of options, ranging from the Janus Theatre Company to the Children's Theatre of Elgin, offering diverse theatrical experiences. The Hemmens Cultural Center and Elgin Community College's Visual & Performing Arts Center serve as focal points for the performing arts, hosting numerous performances throughout the year, featuring acclaimed artists such as Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance Company and comedian Bill Maher.

Following a period of economic downturn in the 1980s, downtown Elgin experienced a revival in the 1990s with the arrival of the Grand Victoria riverboat casino and improvements in the local economy. Many historic buildings underwent transformation into stylish clubs and restaurants, breathing new life into the city center.

Elgin's extensive park system includes notable attractions such as the 112-acre Lords Park, home to the Elgin Public Museum and a small zoo featuring American bison. Wing Park spans 121 acres and features a golf course and outdoor swimming pool. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at several courses within the city, including the Highlands of Elgin, Elgin Country Club, and Bowes Creek Country Club. The Centre of Elgin remains one of the largest municipal recreation centers in the United States, offering diverse amenities such as an aquatic park and climbing wall. The Elgin Sports Complex hosts various sporting events and tournaments, boasting ten lighted ballfields, ten soccer fields, and The Hill BMX track.

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate Elgin's commitment to preserving its natural habitats. The city borders the Poplar Creek Preserve to the east, offering bike trails, hiking trails, and equestrian trails. Notable nature preserves within Elgin include Bluff Spring Fen and Trout Park, home to diverse plant communities and rare orchids. Efforts to promote environmental sustainability include initiatives such as free curbside textile recycling, composting, and rain barrel usage, positioning Elgin as a leader in eco-conscious practices.

As a dynamic city blending cultural vibrancy with natural beauty, Elgin offers residents and visitors alike a rich tapestry of experiences to explore and enjoy.

Victorian Influence in Elgin

Elgin has long been celebrated for its rich architectural heritage, particularly its Victorian style homes and landmarks. Notable examples include stunning residences in the Queen Anne style, many of which were once owned by executives of the National Watch Company. Additionally, Elgin boasts a collection of Sears Catalog Homes, which were popular kit homes from 1908 to 1940, adding to the city's architectural diversity.

Among Elgin's architectural treasures are the Elgin Tower Building and the Elgin Professional Building, imposing structures constructed during the city's prosperous era before the Great Depression. While these buildings stand as symbols of Elgin's past glory, the Tower Building has undergone recent renovations, repurposing it into residential apartments, ensuring its continued relevance in the modern cityscape.

Before the Victorian era, Elgin was characterized by homes constructed of native cobblestone, contributing to its unique architectural identity. At one point, Elgin boasted one of the largest concentrations of cobblestone homes outside of Rochester, New York. Many of these historic cobblestone homes, built by early settlers, still stand today, offering glimpses into Elgin's storied past. Several of these homes are located within Elgin's designated historic districts, two of which are recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

The Elgin Public Museum at Lords Park holds distinction as the oldest building in Illinois constructed specifically to serve as a museum, preserving artifacts and exhibits that chronicle the city's history.

To further promote historic preservation, the nine-member Elgin Heritage Commission actively engages in preservation initiatives. Additionally, the Gifford Park Association plays a significant role in preserving Elgin's heritage, organizing a popular annual house tour that showcases the city's architectural splendor.

Based on Elgin's 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the leading employers in the city are as follows:

  • Elgin Area School District U46 - 4,329 employees
  • J.P. Morgan Chase - 2,500 employees
  • Advocate Sherman Hospital - 2,094 employees
  • John B. Sanfilippo (Fisher Nuts) - 1,742 employees
  • Provena Saint Joseph Hospital - 1,349 employees
  • Elgin Community College - 1,064 employees
  • Grand Victoria Casino - 800 employees
  • Elgin Mental Health Center - 750 employees
  • American NTN Bearing - 675 employees
  • City of Elgin - 659 employees
  • Motorola Solutions - 400 employees
  • Communication Test Design Inc - 312 employees

Education in Elgin is served by a mix of public and private institutions, offering a range of options for students of all ages.

Public Schools (K–12):

  • Elgin Area School District U46, headquartered in Elgin, is the largest school district in the city and the second largest in Illinois. It covers a vast area of 90 square miles across Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties, serving nearly 40,000 school-age children. Within U-46, students attend Elgin High School, Larkin High School, and Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School.
  • Community Unit School District 301, based in Burlington, extends its services to some western areas of Elgin.
  • Community Unit School District 300, headquartered in Carpentersville, serves certain northwestern sections of Elgin.
  • Community Unit School District 303, located in St. Charles, caters to specific southwestern parts of Elgin.

Private Schools (K–12):

Several private schools contribute to Elgin's educational landscape, including:

  • Harvest Christian Academy
  • The Einstein Academy
  • Elgin Academy
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Preschool
  • Northwest Baptist Academy
  • St. Edward Central Catholic High School
  • St. John's Lutheran School and Preschool
  • St. Edwards Preparatory Catholic School
  • St. Mary Elementary School
  • St. Thomas More Catholic Elementary School
  • Westminster Christian School

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Elgin, Illinois ZIP Codes

Elgin, Illinois, encompasses a total of four ZIP Codes. The ZIP Codes within Elgin include the following: 60120, 60121, 60123, 60124. Among these ZIP codes, there are three Standard ZIP Codes and one PO Box ZIP Code. The combined population of ZIP Codes within Elgin amounts to 124,298.