city, seat (1837) of Boone county, northern Illinois, U.S. It lies on the Kishwaukee River, about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of downtown Chicago. The area was settled in 1835 and was originally named Elysian Fields. The city was founded in 1836 and renamed Belvidere (Latin: "Beautiful View"). Belvidere was an important stopping place on the Chicago-Galena stage route and developed as an agricultural trading centre, shipping milk and grain to Chicago. The town centre was originally built north of the river but was moved to the other side after the railroad passed through there in 1851. Industries important to the local economy include machine tools, furnaces, automobiles, and canned and frozen vegetables. The surrounding agricultural area produces corn (maize), soybeans, and livestock. Some one-fifth of residents are Hispanic or Latino. Belvidere is notable for the colourful murals that adorn downtown buildings. The city also features the Boone County Historical Society Museum and, in Belvidere Cemetery, the Pettit Memorial Chapel (1907, restored 2003), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; it is believed to be the only chapel Wright ever designed and is an early example of his trademark Prairie style. On April 21, 1967, a devastating tornado struck the local high school and surrounding area, killing 24 people and destroying or damaging some 500 homes. Inc. 1852. Pop. (1990) 15,958; (2000) 20,820.
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