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Mayor's Letter

WelcomePontiac was recently recognized by Time Magazine as one of the ten best small towns in the United States, in a feature article about the immigration of people to less urban areas.

The Time article noted the unique character of Pontiac as a whole, and the downtown in particular. From restored historic buildings, brick streets, swinging bridges, beautiful parks, to a historic courthouse, the downtown is second to none. All these qualities are not taken for granted by residents of Pontiac. Nor did the successes happen by accident; the hard work of many makes our community successful.

Recognition by the National Main Street program and numerous Governor's Home Town awards also provide testimony to the great community that nearly 12,000 people call home. Credit for the success belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, PROUD, many civic organizations, and countless volunteers and residents.

It's my pleasure to welcome you to our wonderful community.  For more information, please visit our official City of Pontiac web site at

Mayor Scott H. McCoy

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Community Overview

Community Profile

Pontiac, Illinois is the seat of Livingston County government and offers all the amenities and conveniences of metropolitan living while still welcoming visitors and residents with its small-town ambiance. Some of the richest farmland in the state is found in the surrounding Vermilion River Valley; combined with Pontiac’s diverse commercial base of manufacturing, retail and service businesses, the economic development efforts of municipal officials and development organizations, and a lower-than-average cost of living, the city appeals to both residents and businesses.

A steadily growing population of 12,000+ makes Pontiac large enough to offer businesses a diverse labor force yet small enough that neighbors know one another and local merchants greet shoppers by name. The busy downtown area offers an array of goods and services, complemented by several shopping centers throughout the city.

Residential neighborhoods are safe and well-maintained, and offer a variety of housing, from newer single-family developments and historic homes to condominium/ townhome and apartment communities; numerous parks and recreational amenities, along with a host of family-oriented events and activities year ‘round. Pontiac schools are recognized as some of the best in Central Illinois, and a wide network of vital civic, social and fraternal organizations provide not only diversions throughout the year, but also greatly contribute to the betterment of the community and its citizens.

Local government also offers modern services with "hometown friendliness." Pontiac welcomes businesses opening in or relocating here with assistance and economic incentives; existing businesses are encouraged to grow with support from the city together with the Pontiac Area Chamber of Commerce, local financial institutions, business and civic groups such as P.R.O.U.D. (stands for Pontiac Redeveloping Our United Downtown) and local business leaders. The Pontiac Corporate Center office/industrial park is home to several companies. The city’s convenient location, just off I-55 provides easy access to major transport routes and air, freight and shipping facilities.

Add it all up, and you have a dynamic, diverse community representing an appealing blend of business, government and citizenry working side-by-side to make Pontiac, Illinois a great place to call home.

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Location & Transportation


Pontiac is located approximately 90 miles from Chicago and 30 miles from Bloomington, just off Interstate 55. State Route 116 runs through Pontiac west to I-39 and east almost to the Illinois/Indiana border; SR 23 runs north and south through the city and intersects I-55.

The Illinois Central Gulf, Santa Fe, Conrail and Norfolk/Western railroads provide freight transportation for goods coming into and out of Pontiac. Amtrak, as well as Greyhound bus service, carry passengers to and from their destinations.

The city also has its own public airport, Pontiac Municipal Airport, south of the downtown area. It is available for private aircraft with a 4,000-foot lighted runway and private maintenance and storage (T-hangar rentals and free tie-downs).

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Pontiac is the legendary Ottawa Indian chief for which the city was named in 1837. The first settlers arrived in 1838. The city was platted in 1837 and became a center of population growth for the area. Industry was established in 1838 when a sawmill opened; the first grain mill opened in 1851. Because of its strategic location along the rail line connecting Chicago, Springfield and St. Louis in the late 1870s, Pontiac became an important regional trading center. Its location along the original Route 66, one of the nation’s first major interstate highways and traveled by hundreds of thousands of people from 1926 to the mid ‘60s, also contributed to the industrial and retail growth of the community.

Pontiac’s heritage can be traced back through the archives, documents, photographs and displays at several historic points of interest in Pontiac: the Livingston County Courthouse, The Jones House, Old City Hall Shoppes (all listed on the National Register of Historic Places), The Yost House, Chataqua Park, and the Sesquicentennial Mural.

The Jones House is a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture, built in the late 1850s. It is the oldest brick home in Pontiac and named after Henry C. Jones, founder of the Pontiac Ice & Fuel Company. The structure was the first in Livingston County to be placed on the Register, in 1978, and one of the few remaining pre-Civil War buildings in Pontiac. It has been meticulously restored is maintained by the Livingston County Historical Society; it is open for tours every Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00p.m.

The Catherine V. Yost Museum and Arts Center is a living museum and a local center for non-performing arts. Construction of the Queen Anne-style home was begun in 1898; situated on the north bank of the Vermilion River, the surrounding flora provide a haven for visiting songbirds and waterfowl. It was built for Z.F. Yost, a Pontiac attorney. His daughter Catherine (1893-1970) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and traveled and painted in both Europe and the U.S.; most of her original artwork is on display in the Yost House.

Nearly all of the the Yost family possessions are displayed as well, some of which date back to the 1850s. Catherine’s brother, John Paul Yost (1897-1988) was president of the Livingston County Historical Society for 12 years and in 19??, in memory of his sister, donated the home to the city. The Yost House is also open Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00p.m.

For more information about these and other historic sites in Pontiac and the surrounding area, call the Livingston County Historical Society at (815) 842-3457.

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A handsome variety of architectural styles are featured in Pontiac’s residential landscape, from stately older homes in historic neighborhoods to contemporary designs in the city’s newer subdivisions, with quality housing available in most every price range. While it’s a "city on the grow," Pontiac’s small-town atmosphere is still evident in well-maintained neighborhoods where long-time residents know one another by name and strive to make newcomers feel welcome to the community.

People who live in Pontiac are actively involved in their community through a number of civic, social or service organizations here. Whatever your hobby, volunteer interest, sport or favorite pastime, you’ll likely find a circle of new friends who share the same interests.

More than 130 clubs and groups in Pontiac welcome new members and provide residents of all ages plenty of opportunities to get active, get involved, lend a helping hand or pursue their passion. The Pontiac Area Chamber of Commerce has a complete list of organizations and contacts available (true?).

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Pontiac’s charming downtown shopping area attracts local residents as well as visitors to the area, with its more than 40 merchants offering an array of goods and services, from antiques, Christmas collectibles and jewelry to furniture, cabinetry and office supplies - and most everything in-between!

Over 20 specialty boutiques and shops are housed in the Old City Hall, built in 1900 and former home of Pontiac’s city government and police station. And while shopping or just browsing, something good is always cooking at The Apple Tree Restaurant or Allan’s Pub & Grub.

There are more than 30 restaurants in and around Pontiac offering a wide variety of ethnic and Continental cuisine, for a quiet evening for two, a business luncheon, or a night out with family and friends. Banquet facilities can accommodate up to 400+ guests for business meetings, weddings and other special events.

In the city or within a few minutes drive are several motels and hotels offering, clean, comfortable, reasonably priced accommodations. The more than 300 rooms available ensure leisure and business travelers a place to spend the night or enjoy an extended vacation in Pontiac and the Vermilion River area.

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