Located 35 miles northwest of Chicago and home to over 110,000 people, Elgin, Illinois is one of the fastest-growing communities in Kane County and the eighth-largest city in Illinois. Elgin is home to an eclectic mix of businesses and residences with an array of cultural and recreational amenities. With close proximity to Chicago, Elgin provides suburban living with all of the arts and entertainment opportunities a major metropolitan city offers. Elgin is known for its historic Queen Anne style architecture and large number of Sears "catalog homes" built between 1908 and 1940. Elgin is home to the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, one of the largest orchestras in Illinois, and the Elgin Public Museum of Natural History and Anthropology. People from around the world have made their homes in the Elgin area, giving the community a rich diversity which is now part of the city's cultural heritage. In 2002, Elgin was recognized as an All American City by the National Civic League.
Elgin was established in 1835 as a place for stagecoaches to cross the Fox River en route between Chicago and Galena, Illinois. With the construction of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, early prosperity came to Elgin as a major dairy producer in the region, producing butter and condensed milk. The Elgin National Watch Company opened in 1866, and watch making became the primary industry in city for nearly 100 years as the Elgin factory grew into the largest watch manufacturing complex in the world. With skilled craftsmen in the area, other factories sprung up in Elgin in the early 20th century, manufacturing parts for a broad array of products, including pianos, precision lathes, and stoves. When World War II arrived, Elgin factories were quickly converted to serving the war effort, manufacturing mechanical time fuses, propeller castings, mortar shells, timing devices, altimeter parts, and more. During the post-war 1950’s, watch manufacturing decreased due to worldwide competition, but this had little impact on the city as residents were now able to travel by automobile to jobs throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Learn more about Elgin’s history with the following links.
Elgin experiences four distinct seasons, with summertime high temperatures averaging in the low 80’s °F and summertime nightly lows in the 60’s °F. The highest level of precipitation is also in the summer, averaging more than 4" per month. Winters are cold, with average high temperatures in the low 30’s °F and temperatures at night dipping into the teens and lower. Somewhat inland from Chicago, Elgin is less affected by the harsh lake effect wind and snow experienced along the shores of Lake Michigan. Get more climate and weather information with these links.
Elgin has local bus service provided through PACE, the suburban bus system of Chicago’s Transit Authority, operating numerous fixed routes Monday through Saturday. Metra provides daily rail service between Elgin and Chicago, and Amtrak includes Elgin in its expansion route between Chicago and Rockford, Illinois. Chicago’s O’Hare airport is about 30 miles from Elgin, offering flights worldwide.
Cost of Living in Elgin
At approximately 2% above the national average, the cost of living in Elgin, Illinois is moderate for a suburb so close to a major metropolitan area. Transportation and food costs run a little higher, offset by the cost of housing. Compare how your budget matches living in Elgin using the following links.
The Elgin Area School District is designated U-46 by the State of Illinois and serves more than 40,000 children in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The district ranks as the second largest in Illinois with 40 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, and 5 high schools. The city of Elgin also features 54 private schools.
Advocate Sherman Hospital is Elgin’s best hospital. This general medical and surgical facility is known for its high performance in COPD and heart failure treatments. If you’re planning a move to Elgin, be sure to know the medical resources available to you:
Elgin Real Estate
From four historic districts with majestic Victorian mansions to neighborhoods with comfortable single-family homes and townhomes, the Elgin real estate market offers something for everyone. Explore the great properties currently on the market in Elgin with these links.
There are eight name brand hotels located in Elgin, and twenty additional hotels in neighboring Illinois communities within 10 miles of Elgin. The Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites of Elgin is highly regarded, or you might enjoy one of the many accommodations available at the following links.
You can find plenty of great places to dine in Elgin, Illinois. Burnt Toast as you might guess specializes in breakfast and lunch with gourmet flair. For breakfast any time of day, the top-rated Ray’s Family Restaurant has been breaking eggs in the same location for more than 40 years. Al’s Cafe, located on the walkway at DuPage Court, serves a wide ranging menu from Cajun shrimp to schnitzel, or you might stop in for a classic malt from the original Burns’ Pharmacy recipe. For a “pint and a burger”, nothing beats the Elgin Public House, known for better than average pub grub. You will have a hard time choosing between dry rubbed ribs or beef brisket at The Elgin BBQ Pit. Just make sure you try the Alabama white sauce! Discover more great dining experiences at the following links.
Things to Do in Elgin
With Lake Michigan and Chicago within easy driving distance, there is always plenty to do for entertainment in Elgin, Illinois but don’t overlook the great opportunities at home. The Highlands of Elgin is the #2 rated golf course in Illinois, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra provides concerts throughout the year at a fraction of the cost to attend a concert or opera in the "Windy City”. Watch collectors visit Elgin to learn more about the city’s history as makers of the world’s greatest pocket watches and much of the Elgin National Watch Company’s golden era is on display at the History Museum of Elgin. When you are ready to visit Chicago, you can save yourself parking problems with a quick hop on the Metra commuter rail. The Metra takes you to Chicago Union Station, and you can reach almost any destination in the city or the suburbs from there.