Without knowing it, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to someday become an exurbian in the small town of Princeton, Illinois. Or make that an exurbanite, according to the online dictionary I found. I’d never even heard of the term exurb before reading the article below. I just knew that Princeton seemed like a great community to own a little house to retire in. Apparently I’m not the only one to think so.
According to the dictionary, an exurb is “a region lying beyond the suburbs of a city, especially one inhabited principally by wealthy people.” Hmm, so maybe my dream is reaching a bit, since I can’t see myself ever achieving “wealthy” status, at least not in terms of greenbacks and dollar signs. I wonder, though, if Princeton would agree with that definition.
I lived just a few miles from Princeton most of my life. For about nineteen of those my home was only twenty minutes away and I spent a lot of time there since it was the closest town of any size. There are quite a few large beautiful houses along the principal streets in town like the photos in the article, but I never knew any of the people that lived in them. Most folks I knew were simple, middle-income families who seldom went to the big city of Chicago and certainly couldn’t be defined as rich in material goods.
There is something different about the town though. When I knew I was going to move back to Illinois from Seattle, it seemed like the perfect compromise for me between city and country living; it feels like it could be a Seattle neighborhood, just a short bus ride from all the bustle and congestion of the downtown streets. Maybe that’s what Chicagoan think, too. Princeton, just a short train ride from the excitement and chaos of inner-city streets.
Princeton’s emergence as a far-out locale for a handful of ultralong-distance commuters isn’t unique in an Internet-connected age. But the hometown of abolitionist Owen Lovejoy, actor Richard Widmark and a Doobie Brothers drummer is getting its day in the sun with more frequent and reliable train service—service scheduled to grow in 2015 with the addition of four daily trains between Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago.