Naperville began as Naper's Settlement, which was founded by Joseph Naper and his family and friends along the banks of the DuPage River in 1831. Fort Payne and The Pre-Emption House was constructed in 1834, as the settlement became a stage-coach stop on the road from Chicago to Galena. Reconstructions of Fort Payne and the Pre-Emption House stand as part of Naper Settlement, which was first established by the Naperville Heritage Society and the Naperville Park District in 1969 to preserve some of the community's oldest buildings. The city today is located in DuPage and Will counties.
Naperville remained a predominantly rural community for most of its existence until the 1960s when it experienced a population explosion following the construction of the East-West Tollway, known today as the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway and North-South tollways. In the past two decades, it has nearly quadrupled in size as Chicagoland's urban sprawl brought corporations, jobs and wealth to the area. Today, approximately 95,000 Napervillians live in DuPage County, while about 40,000 reside in Will County. It is the fourth largest city in the state, behind Chicago, neighboring Aurora and Rockford.
Naperville is located in the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor. Employers contributing to the population explosion of the 1980s and 1990s include Bell Labs, Western Electric, BP Amoco Labs, Nalco Chemical Nicor, Porsche Finance and Edward Hospital. Tellabs and Laidlaw have corporate headquarters in Naperville, and ConAgra's Grocery division's offices are also in Naperville. OfficeMax moved corporate headquarters to Naperville in 2006. Naperville was one of the ten fastest growing communities in the United States during the 1990s. The area is also home to one of the largest congregations of automobile retailers in the state, as part of the "Ogden Avenue Strip," which extends from Hinsdale to Aurora and includes every mainstream make of automobile available.
In 1999, Naperville was designated a White House Millennium Community, due to the construction of the Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon. In 2007, the DuPage River Trail was opened for pedestrians and bicyclists, stretching from the DuPage River Sports Complex through Knoch Knolls Park to the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville. The Naperville Park District manages and provides leisure and recreational activities for Naperville and nearby residents. The district was established by referendum in 1966 and today manages over 2,400 acres of open space, including over 130 parks and four sports complexes. Some of the facilities managed by the Park District include Centennial Beach, with adjacent Centennial Park, Frontier Sports Complex, Commissioners Park, Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, Naperbrook and Springbrook golf courses, Community Garden Plots, Knoch Knolls Park, and Naperville Sportsman's Club.
The City of Naperville hosts many annual events that include the Saint Patrick's Day Parade, Civil War Days, Memorial Day Parade, Naper Days, Ribfest, Last Fling (Labor Day weekend), a Labor Day Parade, Oktoberfest, a series of summer concerts Thursdays in Central Park by the Naperville Municipal Band, and carillon concerts at the Millennium Carillon.