Christopher Columbus Payne arrived in what is now Batavia in 1833, making him the first settler of the area. Fueled at the time by the Fox River's power, Batavia was soon known as the 'The Windmill City' and quickly became the windmill manufacturing capital of the world.
Batavia once again took the spotlight following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After his assassination, his widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, spent three months in Batavia's Bellevue Place, a sanitarium and rest home.
Life in Batavia today has been described as fitting "the description of small town life written about by the likes of Mark Twain or Sinclair Lewis."
Residents who want to learn more about Batavia's plentiful history (and a lot more besides) head to the Depot Museum or the nearest library. The museum demonstrates the lengths to which Batavia's public services department goes in order to provide outstanding services for area residents. In terms of educational materials, the Batavia Public Library District ensures that residents have everything they need. The district has undertaken the noble mission to “provide and ensure access to books, information, services and materials to meet the personal, professional and lifelong learning needs of all residents and organizations within the library district.” One way it fulfills this mission is by holding summer reading clubs for children.
The Batavia Park District takes pride in seeking active community involvement about play equipment and activities when planning new parks. As well as the usual gamut of park facilities and recreational activities, the park district also provides about four miles of bike trails, cross-county ski trails, community and civic centers, a museum and boating and fishing facilities. The city is also home to its own 18-hole golf course, Settler's Hill.
The children of Batavia have access to Alice Gustafson, Grace McWayne, J. B. Nelson, H. C. Storm, Hoover-Wood, and Louise White elementary schools; the Sam Rotolo Middle School of Batavia; and Batavia High School. Batavia students consistently score higher than the national average in basic skills testing, and most score above the national average in the areas of vocabulary, reading, language and math.
Students seeking higher education have access to the Sugar Grove campus of Waubonsee Community College, which opened in 1967 to serve Batavia and approximately 200 other communities in Kane County. Also nearby are Batavia University; Elgin Community College and Judson College in Elgin; North Central College in Naperville; and Wheaton College in Wheaton. In addition, Batavia students are within driving distance of nationally famous campuses in Chicago including DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago.
Calling itself the "City of Energy", Batavia is home to a Chamber of Commerce that promotes a united community by "working together to create and sustain a quality business and community environment for the benefit of all." As a testament to Batavia's economic strength, the community boasts a roster of more than 100 industrial firms such as Watlow Batavia, Power Packaging, Proex, Suncast, Fermi Labs, Sealy Mattress Company, Dot Packaging and Millard Refrigeration Services.
Residents of Batavia have all manner of entertainment choices at their fingertips. The Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles offers many incredible concerts, including performances by the renowned Illinois Symphony Orchestra. The Paramount Arts Center in Batavia gives Batavia's residents more opportunity to sample the area's cultural delights.
Festivals are popular highlights of Batavia's calendar of events. The best attended events include the Loyalty Day Parade in May, the annual Mid-American Canoe Race in June, the Heritage Arts Festival, the annual Fourth of July celebration, the Taste of Batavia, the Windmill City Fest, Oktoberfest and the increasingly popular Autumn Breeze 10K plus 5K.
With Chicago a small hop away, Batavians can enjoy the Windy City's superb museums and galleries, the Lyric Opera, the famed Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Broadway plays and numerous professional sports. Batavia has all the charm of yesterday's towns, with the truly spectacular amusements found in today's largest cities.