When Mr. Whitney first arrived on the banks of the Kishwaukee river in 1835, he was so enraptured with the beauty of the landscape, that in his enthusiasm, he named the place, "Elysian Fields". Later when Mr. Peck arrived and took over the claims of Dunham and Metcalf the name was changed to Belvidere, which means "beautiful to view".
In 1835, the census figures show 37 men, women and children as residents. Today, the figure has increased to 25,585 according to the 2010 Census. The original town of Belvidere was laid out on the north side of the river, with the usual town square upon which the County Courthouse was built. However, when the railroad located on the south side in 1851, the business section gradually moved south, and that is the location of "downtown" today.
Belvidere is located in north central Illinois and is 75 miles from downtown Chicago on Routes 20, 76 and the Northern Illinois Toll road, with the Kishwaukee River (one of Illinois' few Class A rivers) dividing the town. We have an industrial community surrounded by prosperous farms. It is the County Seat with an estimated 2006 county population of over 52,000. Our altitude is 800 feet above sea level, average temperatures are: 73 degrees F in the summer; 24 degrees F in the winter, and the average rainfall is 33.3 inches.
Electricity is supplied to the city by Commonwealth Edison Company, with headquarters at Rockford, Illinois. Over 22,522 megawatts of power are available. Belvidere is serviced from a 138 K.V. Loop system. Rates are available upon request from ComEd's office in Rockford, Illinois. Natural gas is available from Northern Illinois Gas Company (NICOR) with headquarters in Rockford, Illinois. Rates and information are available by calling the Rockford office. Verizon maintains the telephone system in Belvidere with over 11,000 lines.
The water department is owned and operated by the City of Belvidere. The supply comes from 8 deep wells ranging in depth from 120 feet to 1,800 feet, capable of producing over 9 million gallons of water per day. Hardness test is 19 - 26 grains. A diesel motor is used as stand-by in case of emergency with regular power from Public Service Company. There are 78 miles of water mains in the city with 591 hydrants. Water pressure is maintained at 65 to 92 pounds. Each well is controlled by automatic devices to maintain steady water pressure. Water is state tested, with chlorine added for purity. The water department employs 12 people. Two elevated tanks of 300,000 gallons capacity each and two reservoirs (ground storage) of 435,000 and 70,000 gallons capacity serve the city's needs.
Belvidere's sewage treatment plant is municipally owned as well. The design average flow is 5,899 to 6.5 million gallons per day with an average flow of 3.5 to 4.5 millions gallons per day coursing through 80 - 91 miles of water mains. The plant operates accordingly to IEPA and USEPA regulations, under the direction of a certified state licensed operator. The treatment process is activated sludge.
There are 25 churches in Belvidere representing 15 denominations. Cultural facilities include the Community Building Complex, and the Baltic Mill, both of which host a wide variety of concerts, theatrical events, etc. Belvidere is also the home of the Boone County Historical Museum and the Pettit Memorial Chapel designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Recreational facilities include the YMCA (Nautilus program, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, banquet room and club rooms). There are approximately 110 acres in the Belvidere Park District. (This includes two baseball diamonds, playgrounds for children, one swimming pool, seven tennis courts, five basketball courts, picnic tables, and shelter hours.) There are two gymnasiums, two bowling alleys, and two golf courses. In addition, the Keen Age Center was recently completed to provide expanded facilities for the wide variety of programs and activities available for seniors in Belvidere and Boone County.
Educational facilities include ten grade schools (7 public, one Catholic, one Lutheran, one Baptist), three middle schools (two public, one Lutheran, one Baptist school) and two senior high schools. School District No. 100 contracts with a private corporation for bus services. Year 2006-2007 enrollments are as follows: High School - 2,336 enrollments, Central Middle School - 1,147 enrollments, South Middle School - 957 enrollments, Caledonia Elementary - 641, Kishwaukee - 211 enrollments, Lincoln - 687 enrollments, Meehan - 635 enrollments, Perry - 277 enrollments, Seth Whitman Elementary - 734 enrollments, and Washington Elementary - 1,089 for a total District 100 enrollment of 8,714. In addition, Boone County Center Special Education Center, which services residents with special needs in District No. 100 and District No. 200 from ages 3 to 21 - 61 students.
The Ida Public Library maintains over 68,000 volumes, and conducts a summer reading program as well as a reading hour for small children. Services include use of computers, internet access, lending of video and cassette tapes, large print books, hard and soft cover books, records, and art prints. Inter-library loan service is also available. The library maintains a web site at www.idapubliclibrary.org.
The community is served by three local newspapers. The Belvidere Republican is published Tuesday-Friday and Sunday. The Boone County Journal is a free weekly newspaper distributed on Friday. In addition, the Boone County Shopper, a free, all advertising/classified paper is also published weekly on Thursdays.
Belvidere is home to independently owned motels, many shops and stores and restaurants. Besides those businesses located in the downtown district, one will find many more new shopping and dining experiences popping up as our community continues to grow.
The U.S. Postal Service includes deliveries once daily, and has a new facility on the west side of Belvidere.
Belvidere has one hospital within the city limits - SwedishAmerican Medical Center of Belvidere. Nearby Rockford, only 12 miles away, has three major hospitals. In addition, there are three nursing homes in our city: Maple Crest Care Centre - a skilled rehabilitation and complex medical care facility, Northwoods Care Centre - a skilled care facility, and Home Bridge Rehabilitation & Nursing Center - a skilled care facility.
The chief industries in and around Belvidere include machine tools, heat furnaces, automobiles (we are home to the Daimler Chrysler Assembly Plant), bottle caps, canned and frozen vegetables (General Mills - Green Giant), the North American Headquarters of NDK, a synthetic quartz manufacturer, microwave paper products, rubber, wire and wire coating, fertilizers, and chemicals, automotive and appliance trim, beauty salon equipment and wooden panels and trusses for the construction industry.
Boone County consists of 147,059 acres. 81% of this land is classified as Prime Farmland. In addition, large amounts of high quality gravel, sand and limestone deposits have been identified. The landscape in the northern part of the County is hilly and rolling, gradually becoming flat as you go further south. There are many streams, ponds, wetlands and wildlife habitats throughout the county. Significant areas of wooded land are located throughout the county and contribute to the area's character and beauty.
Boone County is very well connected to the region via road, air and rail. Interstate 90, US Highway 20, and State Highways 76 and 173 serve as the primary road transportation routes in the County, and connections to Rockford and Chicago metro areas are via these routes. Twenty-six major truck lines serve the city. Eight of these are locally-owned.
The Interstate 90 Tollway is a major interstate and intrastate transportation route. There is currently access from the Tollway at the Genoa / Belvidere Road exit. The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is studying the possibility of an interchange in the area of Irene Road/Town Hall Road/Stone Quarry Road. Additional Tollway interchanges are located across the Winnebago County line to the west of Boone County at Business 20 and Rockton Road with an additional interchange currently under construction at Highway 173.
Freight rail service is provided by the Union Pacific on tracks crossing the County from east to west passing through Garden Prairie and the City of Belvidere. Currently there is no passenger rail service; however, there is future potential service through Metra, the Chicago Metro commuter rail service.
The Poplar Grove Airport on Highway 76 is a local airport serving the surrounding communities. Chicago's O'Hare Airport, a national and international hub, is located approximately 55 miles from the City of Belvidere on I90. The Rockford Airport, a mid-west regional UPS air-freight hub, is a short 20 miles to the west of Belvidere. Rockford Airport also offers limited national and international passenger service on various carriers.