Elgin is a city in both Cook and Kane counties located along the Fox River. In the 2012 census, the village’s population was 109,927, making it the 8th largest city in Illinois. Elgin’s total area is 37.71 square miles. 37.16 (98.54%) of it is land and 0.54 square miles (1.43%) is water.
Elgin is home to a number or private schools including: Highland Christian Academy, Da Vinci Academy, The Einstein Academy, Elgin Academy, Fox Valley Lutheran Academy, Good Shepherd Lutheran Academy, Northwest Baptist Academy, St. Edward Central Catholic High School, St. John’s Lutheran School, St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School, St. Laurence Catholic Elementary School, St. Mary Elementary School, St. Thomas More Catholic Elementary School, and Westminster Christian School. Elgin is mainly served by district U-46. U-46 is the second largest district in Illinois. It serves students in Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties. There are 40 elementary school within the district: Centennial, Hawk Hollow, Spring Trail, Sycamore Trails, Laurel Hill, Horizon, Ontarioville, Channing, Huff, Lords Park, Sheridan, Coleman, Lincoln, McKinley, Timber Trails, Harriet Gifford, Lowrie, Otter Creek, Washington, Creekside, Hillcrest, Fox Meadows, Century Oaks, Highland, Clinton, Garfield, Liberty, Nature Ridge, Wayne, Willard, Glenbrook, Hanover Countryside, Hilltop, Oak Hill, Ridge Circle, Sunnydale, Heritage, Laurel Hill, Parkwood, and Bartlett. The middle schools in U-46 are Eastview, Teftt, Ellis, Larsen, Kimball, Abbott, Kenyon Woods, and Canton. Bartlett, Larkin, Elgin, South Elgin, and Streamwood are the high schools in U-46. Even though the majority of Elgin attends U-46 schools, districts 301, 300, and 303 are available. District 301 is a smaller district serving Burlington, Lilly Lake, parts of Elgin, Campton Hills, and Pingree Grove. The schools in District 301 are Central High School (referred to as Burlington Central), Central Middle School, Prairie Knolls Middle School, Country Trails Elementary, Howard B. Thomas Elementary, Lily Lake Elementary, and Prairie View Grade School. District 300 is based in Carpentersville and serves a small portion of Elgin. The elementary schools are: Algonquin Lakes, Dundee Highlands, Eastview, Gilberts, Golfview, Hampshire, Lake in the Hills, Lincoln Prairie, Meadowdale, Neubert, Parkview, Perry, Sleepy Hollow, and Wright. Oak Ridge and deLacey Family Education Center are also available to students. The middle schools in district 300 are Algonquin, Dundee, Carpentersville, and Hampshire. Westfield Community School serves kindergarten through 8th grade. There are 3 high schools in the district: Dundee-Crown, Hampshire, and Harry D. Jacobs. Last, but not least, district 303. The elementary schools in this district are Anderson, Bell-Graham, Corron, David, Richmond, Ferson Creek, Fox Ridge, Lincoln, Munhall, Norton Creek, Wasco, and Wild Rose.
There are three middle schools available and they are Haines, Thompson, and Wredling. St. Charles North and East are the two high schools that serve district 303 students.
Downtown Elgin is home to a many attractions. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is one of the largest orchestras in Illinois and it’s a primary option for live symphony music in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Other classical music groups in the area include Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Children’s Chorus, and Elgin Opera Outdoor. Theatre groups include the Janus Theatre Company, Elgin Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre of Elgin, Fox Valley Youth Theatre, and Nothing Special Productions. The Hemmens Auditorium and the Elgin Community College’s Visual & Performing Arts Center host a variety of performances each year by performers. Elgin lost a lot of landmark businesses in the 1980’s, and when the Grand Victoria Riverboat Casino was born, business boomed again. Old buildings have been turned into clubs and restaurants. There are many parks within the city. 112-Acre Lords Park has playground equipment, picnic tables, Elgin Public Museum, and a herd of American Bison. 121-Acre Wing Park includes a golf course. There are other golf courses within Elgin: the Highlands of Elgin, the Elgin Country Club, and Bowes Creek Country Club. The Centre of Elgin features an aquatic park and a climbing wall for the community to enjoy.
Along with man-made attractions, Elgin has a few nature preserves within its boundaries. The Fox River Trail bike path connects Elgin to neighboring villages like Carpentersville, East Dundee, and Algonquin. On the east side of Elgin, Poplar Creek Preserve, a 4,200-acre preserve, is maintained by the Cook County Forest Preserves and includes bike trails, hiking trails, and equestrian trails. Elgin has two highly protected nature preserves: the Bluff Spring Fen and Trout Park. Bluff Spring Fen is the smallest of the two but has a remarkable number of distinct plant communities, including a hill prairie and a fen (spring marshland), which is home to rare orchids. Trout Park also includes a similar community with more of a unique forest community with oaks, ashes, maples, and uncommon species like arborvitae and witch-hazel.
The main industry in Elgin is transportation. The village has three train stations on Metra’s Milwaukee District/West Line which travels daily to Chicago’s Union Station: National Street, Elgin, and Big Timber Road. The local PACE bus operates bus routes through the Elgin Bus Terminal. They send out to Carpentersville, Dundee (Spring Hill Mall), Schaumburg (Woodfield Mall), and St. Charles (Charlestowne Mall with a connection to Aurora and Geneva).
With all that’s been said, Elgin lives up to its motto: “City in the suburbs”.