Peoria, Illinois Neighborhoods

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Peoria, Illinois is located in central Illinois along the Illinois River. With a population of around 110,000, it is the largest city in the Peoria metropolitan area.

Peoria has a diverse collection of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and attractions. Here is an in-depth guide to the major neighborhoods in Peoria.

Downtown Peoria

Downtown Peoria is the heart of the city and the center of business, culture, and entertainment. Some of the key features of downtown Peoria include:

Caterpillar Headquarters

The global headquarters of construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. is located in downtown Peoria. The massive complex includes office towers, factories, and research facilities. Caterpillar has been headquartered in Peoria since 1925 and is the area’s largest private employer.

Peoria Civic Center

This large convention center hosts concerts, sporting events, conferences, and more. It is home to the Peoria Rivermen ice hockey team and the site of the IBCA Clash of Champions high school basketball tournament.

Peoria Riverfront Museum

This modern museum located on the Illinois River focuses on art, history, and achievement in science and industry. Exhibits profile Caterpillar, whiskey production, Native American artifacts, regional art, and more.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Downtown offers a variety of dining and nightlife options. Popular spots include the contemporary American restaurant The Blu Room, the Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe, and the Warehouse on State with its rooftop bar. The area also has several live music venues.

Arts District

Downtown is home to an arts district centered around Water Street. This neighborhood has galleries like the Peoria Art Guild and performance spaces like the Peoria Civic Center Theater.

North Valley

Located north of downtown along the Illinois River, the North Valley neighborhood offers scenic views and historic homes.

Upper and Lower North Valley

The North Valley area is divided into Upper North Valley on the bluffs overlooking the river and Lower North Valley along the riverfront.

Historic Architecture

Many stately historic homes are located here, including Italianate, Queen Anne, and other Victorian styles. The Ballance House and Flanagan House are two prominent examples.

Wildlife and Parks

The riverfront Greene Family Park provides access to trails, fishing areas, and views of wildlife. Detweiller Marina offers boating and recreation opportunities.

Industry

This area was once home to many of Peoria’s industries and warehouses. Some facilities still operate today, while others have been converted into residential lofts and art spaces.

Grandview Drive and Grandview Heights

Grandview Drive runs along a high bluff overlooking the Illinois River valley. The adjacent Grandview Heights neighborhood contains beautiful homes and city views.

Grandview Drive

This scenic roadway runs for several miles along the bluff. It is designated as a National Scenic Byway for its panoramic vistas of the river valley.

Luxury Estates

Grandview Heights contains some of Peoria’s most extravagant homes. Many are historic mansions or modern luxury estates with price tags over $1 million. Popular architectural styles include Victorian, Craftsman, and Mediterranean Revival.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden

Located where Grandview Drive passes over the highest point of the bluffs, this public garden contains native Midwestern prairie plants and memorials to Abraham Lincoln. The centerpiece is the bronze sculpture Lincoln the Lawyer.

Recreation

The Grandview Drive Recreation Area offers hiking and mountain biking trails with excellent valley views.

West Bluff

Peoria’s West Bluff neighborhood includes middle class residential areas and shopping centers west of downtown.

Homes and Apartments

This area has a mix of housing, including ranch homes from the 1950s-60s, older brick Colonials and bungalows, and newer townhome developments.

Retail Centers

The West Bluff boasts several of Peoria’s major shopping centers, including the Shops at Grand Prairie, Sheridan Village, and the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. These contain big box stores, supermarkets, and national restaurant chains.

Schools

Located here are several public schools such as Thomas Jefferson Primary School, Washington Gifted Middle School, and Peoria High School. Bradley University, a private university, has a campus on the western edge of the West Bluff.

Parks and Recreation

Recreation options include Donovan Park, Robinson Park, and the Rock Island Trail biking path. The Exposition Gardens with their botanical gardens and conservatory are also found here.

Pleasant Valley

Pleasant Valley lies northwest of downtown Peoria and contains middle class neighborhoods developed mostly after WWII.

Postwar Housing

This area saw significant growth in the 1950s and 60s. Typical housing includes brick ranch homes, split-levels, and tracts of modest Cape Cod homes.

Retail and Dining

The main business district is along Knoxville Avenue. This area has local restaurants, banks, medical offices, auto shops, and similar neighborhood services.

Churches and Schools

Pleasant Valley has numerous churches, including the large Federated Church. Public schools like Pleasant Valley Primary School serve local families, along with private religious schools.

Recreation

The Pleasant Valley Nature Preserve offers hiking in wooded ravines along the Illinois River bluffs. Other parks include Becker, Bonnie Noble, and Emerson. Pleasant Valley Golf Course is an 18-hole public course.

East Bluff

The East Bluff lies across the Illinois River from downtown Peoria. It contains industrial areas along the river as well as residential neighborhoods.

Industry

This area has long been dominated by heavy industry. Major facilities include a Caterpillar factory, Komatsu mining equipment plant, and distilleries like Kotleta vodka and Illinois River Distilling Company.

Blue-Collar Neighborhoods

Adjacent to the industrial areas are historic working-class neighborhoods filled with modest wood-frame and brick houses. Many residents work in local factories and plants.

Retail and Dining

This area’s small business districts include East Peoria’s Camp Street with local shops and restaurants. The Levee District near downtown has breweries like Rhodell Brewing Co. along with nightlife spots.

Fondulac Park

One major recreational amenity is Fondulac Park along the East Peoria lakefront. It offers hiking, fishing, sports fields, and seasonal events.

Southtown

Peoria’s Southtown area encompasses several inner-city neighborhoods south of downtown.

Historic Districts

This area includes three historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places – Moody, SoDenSoh, and South Side. Each has Victorian-era homes, churches, and commercial buildings.

Industry and Warehouses

Parts of Southtown still have industrial facilities, as well as old factory warehouses now used for storage. Examples include the Keystone Steel & Wire plant and various Caterpillar warehouses.

New Development

Some newer urban redevelopment is occurring, like the River West Apartments and retail/office buildings along SW Adams Street. The Peoria Public Library South Side Branch is another recent addition.

Dining and Nightlife

Southtown’s Threw Street is home to La Familia Mexican restaurant, Thirty Thirty Coffee, and the South Side Mission barbecue restaurant. There are also neighborhood taverns and pubs.

West Peoria

Located northwest of the central city, West Peoria is an incorporated suburb that blends with adjacent Peoria neighborhoods.

Retail Options

West Peoria’s commercial areas include the Shoppes at Grand Prairie lifestyle center and the Metro Centre mixed-use development. These have major stores, restaurants, entertainment options, and offices.

Middle Class Housing

This area has typical suburban neighborhoods of mid-size, middle class homes built primarily after WWII. Housing styles include ranches, split-levels, Colonials, and contemporary designs.

Schools

West Peoria has K-12 public schools in District 186. Notable options include Sterling Middle School, Richwoods High School, and Quest Academy charter school. Saint Philomena Catholic School is also located here.

Recreation and Leisure

The Peoria Park District operates numerous parks and facilities here, like Pottstown Nature Preserve, Veterans Memorial Park, and Owens Center indoor recreation center. There are also private options like WeaverRidge golf course.

Peoria Heights

Perched on the bluffs north of downtown, Peoria Heights is one of Peoria’s oldest suburbs with a small-town feel.

History

Founded in 1837, Peoria Heights was originally called North Peoria. It flourished in the late 1800s as a streetcar suburb. The historic Heights Tower remains as a landmark.

Shops and Eateries

The Tower District along Prospect Road has local boutiques, antique stores, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Highlights include Ironworks Hotel, Jack’s Old Fashion Hamburgers, and Creve Coeur Club.

Grand View Drive

Peoria Heights sits along scenic Grand View Drive. The drive passes through the Trewyn Park green space and offers sweeping valley views.

Housing

This area has historic Victorian, Craftsmen, and Queen Anne homes, along with some midcentury modern ranches. Many properties back up to forested ravines and parks.

Schools and Churches

Peoria Heights has several historic churches and schools, including old St. Marks Catholic Church, Peoria Heights Grade School, and Peoria Heights High School.

Summary

Peoria has diverse neighborhoods with their own distinctive identities. Downtown contains major employers and civic attractions surrounded by scenic historic districts like Grandview Heights and the North Valley. The West Bluff and Pleasant Valley have suburban retail centers and middle class homes.

Across the river, the East Bluff is more industrial but also has historic blue-collar neighborhoods. Southtown features both intact Victorian areas and industrial zones. West Peoria provides modern amenities among typical postwar suburbs. And Peoria Heights has maintained its quaint small-town atmosphere perched above the river valley.

With this variety of environments, there are many opportunities to find the right community to call home in Peoria.

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Directions

  • Head east on E Orchard Ave toward S Powerline Rd. The destination will be on your right just past S Elder St. Look for the green house with white trim. If you reach the intersection with S Fern St, you’ve gone too far. The total drive is approximately 0.2 miles from S Powerline Rd.
  • From downtown Nampa, take 3rd St S heading south. Turn right onto E Roosevelt Ave and continue for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto S Elder St and drive 0.1 miles until you reach E Orchard Ave. Take a right onto E Orchard Ave. The green house with white trim will be on your right just after turning.
  • Take I-84 W towards Nampa. Take exit 38 for Franklin Blvd toward Nampa/Caldwell. Turn right onto Franklin Blvd and drive 3.2 miles. Turn left onto E Orchard Ave and continue for 0.9 miles. The destination is the green house with white trim on the right just past S Elder St. The total drive from I-84 is approximately 4.5 miles.