First settled by the French explorer Henri de Tonti in 1691, Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois and is the largest city on the Illinois River. With a population of more than 300,000 people, it is the state’s seventh most populated metropolitan area. Peoria is the home of Caterpillar Inc. and has a long history as a dominant manufacturing hub for companies such as Keystone Steel and Wire and Acme Harvester Co. In 1893, the first commercially available gasoline powered automobile was developed there.
Peoria is served by three interstate highways; I-74 which runs through the downtown area, I-474 which runs through some local suburbs and I-55 which connects to Springfield and St. Louis. The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District operates 21 busses under the name CityLink that serve the city as well as East Peoria and points in between Peoria and Pekin. For passenger flights, General Wayne Downing Peoria International Airport is served by United, American, Delta and Allegiant Airlines.