Aurora, Beyond Wayne’s World


You might be aware that Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois. With a population of over 197,899 it is second only to Chicago. But did you know that Aurora got it’s nickname “The City of Lights” by being the first city in the country to have all electric street lights? Or that Aurora has been scouted for top-name films in recent years? Here is a list of fun facts that you might know about Aurora, IL.

Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies” film starring Johnny Depp as 1930s bank robber John Dillinger filmed a scene at the Art Deco style Paramount Theatre in Downtown Aurora.

The 1992 hit comedy Wayne’s World was filmed mostly in California, but some say parts were also filmed in Aurora, like the White Castle scene. However, the jury is still out. Either way, Aurora is happy that the SNL show and movie has helped to put the city on the map. To that, we say, “we’re not worthy!”

Other films that shot in Aurora: “Children on their Birthdays,” “Let’s Get Harry” and “The Express.” Most recently, Paul Sorvino (The Goodfellas) was in town to shoot “Precious Mettle.”

In the 1800’s Aurora was home to The Chicago Corset Company. It was the second largest company of its kind in the world, and employed over 500 women. The company produced over 2 million corsets annually.

Many of Aurora’s downtown buildings were designed by George Grand Elmslie, who was employed by the same company as Frank Lloyd Wright.

The city’s second largest employer is Hollywood Casino, located in downtown Aurora.

The Leland Tower (now Fox Island Apartments) is the tallest building in Aurora; it was at one time the tallest building in Illinois outside of Chicago. Initially serving as a hotel, The Leland Hotel was designed by Anker Sveere Graven and Arthur Guy Mayger and built in 1928. The building is most well-known for the Sky Club, a dinner and dancing club outfitted with elaborate decor and furnishings of the highest quality. Most famously, blues musicians like John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson recorded in the Sky Club, something that Aurora tries to preserve in its annual Blues on the Fox festival.