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Thursday, April 11, 2013

J for A - Z Challenge

J-Joliet, Illinois

 Joliet has been known as City of Steel, City of Stone, City of Champions, Prison City but after researching this city I think they should add (A town of re-invention).

It all began with available transportation and even today there are several railroads and Interstate Highway 55 and 80 that
 connect the city to the outside world.

Then there was the quarrying of limestone
 that was used to build the Michigan Canal
 and quickly became an artery for shipping stone to regional customers.

In 1858 the state of Illinois located a new penitentiary in Joliet, in part because of the abundance of stone for prison walls and cell houses. The first inmates built this place, walling themselves in with limestone they quarried just a few hundred feet away from the foundation.
When the prison, with its mammoth turrets, opened in 1858, it sat just north of the Joliet city limits. This Correctional Center once was one of the largest prisons in the nation. For many, the name of the city became a synonym for penitentiary.
To say upgrading this facility was slow is putting it mild and running water and tiolets were not available to individual cells for over 62 years. Near the middle of the yard sat an original cell from the prison, preserved to give a glimpse of incarceration in 1858. Dark and narrow--less than 5 feet wide--with no plumbing, the cell was equipped with an iron bed and straw mattresses, a stool, a bucket for a toilet and a ceramic pot for water.

 The prison closed in 2002 and all that is left is a tour of the decaying building of yesteryear with all its ghosts and stories to tell (including the year the warden's wife was murdered).

The “City of Steel” emerged with the construction of the Joliet mill in 1869. 

The city's large labor force and its steel mill attracted other industries. Wire mills, coke plants, stove companies, horseshoe factories, brick companies, foundries, boiler and tank companies, machine manufacturers, can companies, bridge builders, plating factories, steel car shops, and many others established businesses. Other Joliet industries have ranging from the production of greeting cards and calendars to the bottling of Seven-Up,  to the brewing of beer. Pianos, windmills, wallpaper and barrels have all been manufactured in Joliet. It's hard to imagine  that Joliet's economy entered a period of decline in the late 1970s and by 1983 its unemployment rate stood at 26 percent!

 All that is left of that giant steel mill is a tour of the ruins

Now this blue collar town boasts of three casino's for a mecca of gambling nightlife

The Rickard Petty Driving School for a once in a life time experience if you are a brave soul...

and the new NASCAR drag race tracks. They have also revitalized the down town area.
A highlight here anytime of the year, but especially to escape the winter blues, is the Bird Haven Greenhouse and conservatory.
It is a slice of tropical paradise with many sitting areas to just sit and take it all in. There is a arid area that contains cacti and other dessert plants and a peaceful waterfall with aquatic plants and Koi.
A slice of heaven
Happy Trials




Nancy said...

Fascinating history.

Chatty Crone said...

Believe it or not I know Joliet Illinois - my husband went to college there - not in prison - lol - but at Lewis University - we are from Chicago. sandie

Sunni said...

That was really informative. Loved all the pics too. Thanks for visiting my blog.


Sunni said...

That was very informative. Loved all the pics too.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Lady Di Tn said...

While I was working hard in the yard, you were really digging into the history of fun places to roam. Have a great weekend. Peace

Poke The Rock said...

Wow, I guess you need to reinvent the city with the changes of time.I really would like to visit that prison!