In 1673, Louis Jolliet and Fr. Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to explore the Mississippi and the Illinois River valleys. Their explorations took them through what is now Joliet. Founded in 1834 as Juliet, the settlement’s future was shaped by several important developments. The Des Plaines River provided an early waterway, and its power gave rise to mills and manufacturing. Native limestone rock beds helped build a 19th-century city, while Joliet quarries employed thousands of men. From the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, to the building of the Illinois Central and Rock Island Railroads in the 1850s, to the intersecting of the Lincoln Highway and Route 66 in the 20th century, Joliet became an important hub between rural towns in Will and Grundy Counties and Chicago. Over 200 vintage postcards of Joliet reveal a unique city with a sense of community pride.
Author Bio: David A. Belden is a doctor candidate at DePaul University. He teaches local history classes at Minooka Community High School and is an adjunct instructor at the University of St. Francis and Joliet Junior College.
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