Aurora is located in the four Illinois counties of Kane, DuPage, Will and Kendall. About 110,000 of the city's residents reside in Kane County, while about 42,000 live in DuPage County. Only a few thousand Aurorans are in Will and Kendall Counties. Because of Aurora's constant shared border with fellow mega-town Naperville, many refer to the two as a singular city: "Napoura." The two cities together have nearly 300,000 residents, more than the population of many cities that are much larger in geography, such as Kansas City and Milwaukee.
Residents refer to the city as "The City of Lights" because it was one of the first communities to adopt all-electric street lighting in 1881 and in part because the name Aurora means "dawn." What is now Aurora was once two cities - McCarty Mills on the east side and Hartford on the west side of the Fox River. McCarty Mills was named for founders Samuel and Joseph McCarty. When the cities merged, the name of Aurora was chosen because the Aurora Borealis, or "Northern Lights", were shimmering fantastic hues of greens and blues high above the night sky on the eve of a then-popular festival called Dairy Days. To this day, Aurora is one of few cities with official colors (blue and green) commemorating this overwhelmingly memorable event.
Aurora is also on the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor. Prominent manufacturers, past and present, include: Lyon Workspace Products, The Aurora Silver Plate Manufacturing Company, Barber Greene Ltd., the Chicago Corset Company, the Aurora Brewing Company, Stephens-Adamson Company, Caterpillar Incorporated, and Western Wheeled Scraper Works (later Austin-Western Inc.). Olsson Roofing Company, Inc. was started in 1914 and is one of the oldest companies in the city. The most prominent employer and industry was the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (later Burlington Northern), which was headquartered in Aurora. The CB&Q Roundhouse is still standing, and is now the popular restaurant Walter Payton’s Roundhouse.
The city is the location of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) and Aurora University. The major Hindu temple Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple of Greater Chicago and an Islamic mosque are located near IMSA. There are two shopping malls within Aurora city limits: The Westfield Shoppingtown Fox Valley is a large indoor mall with four anchor tenants, and is also surrounded by many shopping and dining complexes. The second is the Chicago Premium Outlets, opened in 2004, which, despite the name lies fully within Aurora city limits.
Aurora also has several attractions that include the Phillips Park Zoo, The Phillips Park Sunken Garden, the Aurora Historical Society, the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, The Aurora Public Arts Commission, SciTech Interactive Science Museum, and the David L. Pierce Art and History Center. Downtown Aurora is home to the Paramount Arts Centre, a large live performance theater on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Hollywood Casino. There is the Leland Tower, a former hotel which was the tallest building in Illinois outside the Chicago city limits. It is also on the National Register of historic places. Also located downtown is the main building of Aurora Public Library and a branch campus of Waubonsee Community College. Downtown Alive, a festival that includes live music and a variety of food booths, is held every Friday night in the summer. Roughly 8,000-10,000 people attend every Friday night. Downtown Aurora also hosts the annual Midwest Literary Festival during the second weekend in September. The Geneva Hotel was once the site of a debate in which Abraham Lincoln participated during his unsuccessful run for the United States Senate.