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Ottawa, Illinois

Ottawa, Illinois (Map) Located at the intersection of the Fox and Illinois Rivers in north central Illinois, Ottawa, Illinois is a rural community 70 miles southwest of Metro Chicago.  Ottawa, with a population near 20,000, serves as the county seat for LaSalle County as well as the seat for the Third Appellate Court District, which serves 21 northern Illinois counties.

A city with a long and storied past, Ottawa incorporated in 1853, the same year as the railroad, and attributes its beginnings to the early industrial and commercial development of the region.  French explorer Louis Joliet was also instrumental in its formation as he helped to develop a water connection between the Illinois River and Lake Michigan, known today as the Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal.

Ottawa is also conveniently nestled at the crossroads of two major interstate systems, I-80 and I-39. Residents of Ottawa and its outlying area enjoy a slower pace of life but enjoy having access to big city amenities within a short drive. Rich with history and recreational activities, Ottawa, Illinois is a perfect community to call home.



Ottawa offers some of the best educational programs in the state, both public and private. Ottawa Elementary District 141 operates five schools (four elementary plus one middle school) and has an enrollment of nearly 2,300 students. Ottawa Township High School serves high school age students. Ottawa is also home to Marquette Academy, a Roman Catholic learning community offering education from Pre-K through 12th grade.  More than 90 percent of Marquette Academy's high school students continue to college.

Opportunities for higher education are also available through Illinois Valley Community College in neighboring Oglesby, Illinois. A satellite location, IVCC Ottawa Center, was recently built to better serve local residents.

Shopping & Recreation

Ottawa offers a distinct array of shopping choices to suit any taste. The downtown shopping district brims with antiques, collectibles, boutiques and unique restaurants. Bustling retail stores line the Interstate 80 corridor at the town's northern perimeter.

For those looking to experience the great outdoors, Ottawa boasts over 100 acres of community parks filled with amenities including boat launches, docking facilities, a swimming pool, tennis courts, biking/hiking trails, baseball/softball diamonds, basketball courts, playground equipment, picnic facilities, fishing areas, park shelters, and more.

A short drive to Starved Rock State Park or a trip down the I&M Canal in Ottawa can help to satisfy the appetite of most any outdoorsman. The outlying LaSalle county area also boasts many other activities including golf, canoeing and skydiving.

Arts & Culture

A number of historical figures have passed through Ottawa since its inception in 1853. Perhaps the most notable are two political individuals by the names of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, now immortalized in bronze in Ottawa's famed Washington Square Park, the location of the first of their seven senatorial debates. Ottawa resident W.D. Boyce, a newspaper publisher, also helped put Ottawa on the map when he established the youth movement known as the Boy Scouts of America. The Ottawa Scouting Museum is dedicated to the history of the B.S.A., as well as that of other youth scouting organizations.

The downtown area, dubbed "Old Town," features larger-than-life, hand-painted murals depicting many of Ottawa's historical adventures. Old Town mixes historic landmarks and remarkable architecture with antique and artistic displays to create a true American treasure!

Ottawa also plays host to a number of festivals throughout the changing seasons.


Whether you are Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, or any other faiths, Ottawa and its surrounding communities offer a wide range of churches and houses of worship.

Real Estate

LaSalle County contains a variety of real estate opportunities. For those looking for small town living with big city amenities, Ottawa, Illinois is the right place to be. Ottawa is a short 90 minute drive to two of the state's largest cities: Chicago (to the northeast) and Peoria (to the southwest).