Transition: The Phoenix Rises

Since the rise and evolution of Aurora’s great manufacturing era, as summarized in Catalyst, Success and Evolution segments, a new Aurora has dawned. In many ways Aurora is as vibrant, strong and prosperous now as ever. But it is different than Aurora a half century ago, when manufacturing was nearing its peak.

With population larger than any Illinois city other than Chicago, Aurora has grown vastly. In the How We Recall segment, you see references to growth in services and distribution firms, often controlled and staffed by international and ethnic groups that now make up our diverse community. Much of the retail commerce we knew at mid 20th century is bigger than ever, but not concentrated in downtown Aurora. Downtown now is much more associated with entertainment, gaming, government along with professional and financial services.

To our East and West are beautiful upscale new communities growing where we remember only corn grew. To our North we see glistening new office buildings and vast distribution centers rising along the tollway to help offset declines of both passenger and freight rail movement. The Fox River flows clearer than ever and parks alongside, as well as open lands to our south, remain to enjoy it. We can view this as a lasting legacy of the attractive urban-rural balance that has drawn settlers here since the 1830’s.

Perhaps there are times during the last half-century when it would have been too immediate and painful to assess the evolution from manufacturing might. But as with the Phoenix of ancient mythology, Aurora adapted and rose again. It is through the insights and perspectives of those in Aurora who lived through and led this rise over the last half century, that this Phoenix segment is being developed. We welcome any thoughts, suggestions and contributions you have to help make it broadly reflective of all that has been accomplished, and how it can lead to an ever better tomorrow for our community.

As Phoenix segment is developed, it may be important to recall that manufacturing companies covered in Success and Evolution segments were mostly not in downtown Aurora. However, it is the changes in downtown since the manufacturing pinnacle that many people associate with the decline and more recent rise of Aurora. To spur your thoughts on how these downtown changes are a part of Aurora’s rise in recent years and how you might want to contribute to development of this Phoenix segment, you might find these Aurora Historical Society postcard views of Old Downtown Aurora of interest.

How Aurora gave rise to the movement that became the field of environmental health might also be of interest in identifying other milestones in Aurora's challenges and triumphs since manufacturing peaked in the 1960's. See Dr. Randolph.


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Catalyst:Early Companies and Resources of 1800's

Success: Profiles of Aurora Industrial firms Dominant through the 1950's

Evolution: Where Did Everyone Go?

Transition: The Phoenix Rises

How We Recall: Personal Reflections and Recollections of Our Times

How We Connected: Links of Individuals as Key to Greatness