The Village includes land in Plainfield and Wheatland townships. Part of Plainfield is located in Kendall County (Na-Au-Say and Oswego townships). With the growth in the Chicago suburbs in the 1990s and 2000s, the village has seen a building boom and a rapid population increase, from 4,500 in 1990 to 13,000 in 2000 to over 37,000 in 2007. Based on estimates created by the village and state government, Plainfield's population could grow as large as 120,000 by 2030. The Village is the fastest growing in the county.
The Village has established a community Preservation Commission and historic preservation ordinance. It is the home of the Lake Renwick Preserve, a county forest preserve used for birdwatching and other activities.
The area was called Walkers' Grove until it was platted as Plainfield in 1841. It was originally settled by a large community of Potawatomi, and the land was later bequethed to the United States as part of the Treaty of St. Louis (1816) with the Council of the Three Fires. Indian Boundary Road aligns with the western border of the tract of land originally ceded.
The earliest Europeans in the area were French fur traders. The first European settler in the area was James Walker, who traveled with his father-in-law, Methodist Reverend Jessie Walker as early as 1821. As a result of his travels, Reverend Walker contributed to the gradual elimination of the Potawatomi.
In 1828, James Walker, in the company of several men, erected a sawmill around which the settlement of Walkers' Grove developed.
Plainfield is identified as the oldest community in Will County because the earliest settlement of Walkers' Grove was established on the banks of the DuPage River by 1828. However, the actual Village of Plainfield was platted immediately north of Walkers' Grove in 1834 by Chester Ingersoll. The separate community of East Plainfield was platted in 1835 by James Mathers and James Turner. These fledgling communities were joined to create the present-day village by Levi Arnold's Addition in 1845.
Walkers' Grove flourished because of the DuPage River and established routes to Fort Dearborn in Chicago, as well as to Ottawa. Reuben Flagg hauled lumber from Walker's mill to Chicago in order to erect the first two frame structures in the city (P.F.W. Peck House and the George Dole Forwarding House). Chicago also depended upon the settlement for mail and supplies. This led to Plainfield being known as "The Mother of Chicago."
The community's early prosperity was stunted when the Illinois & Michigan Canal opened in 1848, because the Village was not located along the canal. Located within the Village are numerous Greek Revival, "upright and wing" cottages, a school built in 1847 (which may be the oldest surviving "one-room schoolhouse" in Illinois), and a number of early-19th-century homes. According to a list prepared by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, there are homes in Plainfield that rank sixth on a list of the 10 most endangered areas in the state of Illinois. Three structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Plainfield House, Flanders House and a 1928 Standard Oil Gas Station.
At one time, the two longest paved highways in the world (Lincoln Highway and U.S. Route 66) crossed within Plainfield. The highways only crossed each other twice and both locations are in Will County. The other location is in neighboring Joliet.
Plainfield is also the birthplace of Eddie Gardner, one of the pilots credited with establishing the transcontinental air mail routes for the United States Postal Service. The earliest architects associated with buildings in Plainfield are J.E. Minott of Aurora; G. Julian & John Barnes of Joliet; and Herbert Cowell of Joliet and Plainfield.
North Central College was first founded in the village in 1861 as Plainfield College.
Plainfield Public Library District was first founded in the village in 1925 as the Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library.
A population explosion started to take form at the start of the 21st century caused by the sale of many farms. This made way for a large number of new home subdivisions. Before the population boom, Plainfield was primarily an agricultural town. Some believe that permissive zoning ordinances have resulted in overcrowding and a surplus of residential construction.
Certain older parts of Plainfield have suffered from extreme traffic congestion. Before Interstate 55 was built just east of the town in the late 1950s, U.S. Route 30, The Lincoln Highway and U.S. Route 66 (sometimes referred to as "The Mother Road") merged into one street for three blocks on what is now Illinois Route 59. This merge is now only shared by U.S. 30 and Lincoln Highway, between Plainfield/Joliet Road on the south to Lockport Street on the north, but continues to be an area of heavy traffic congestion even outside heavy commuting periods.
Plainfield is located at (41.617280, -88.202837).Web site: States Census Bureau] US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990]. 2011-04-23. 2011-02-12.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 12.4 square miles (32.2 km²), of which, 11.6 square miles (30.1 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²) of it (6.67%) is water.
Like its namesake, Plainfield's topography is generally flat. Thousands of years ago, land in greater Plainfield used to be part of the bed of proglacial Lake Wauponsee. However, the lake did not hold up long, and eventually drained into the Illinois River valley. The lake left behind a very flat landscape. Much of downtown Plainfield has an above sea level elevation of around 600-, with some areas in the western and northwestern portions of the village's outskirts exceeding 700feet. This rise in elevation was created by terminal moraines that were formed during the Wisconsin Episode of the last ice age's last glacial period.
As of the censusWeb site: States Census Bureau] American FactFinder]. 2008-01-31. of 2000, there were 13,038 people, 4,315 households, and 3,521 families residing in the village. According to a 2003 special census, the village has a population of 20,673. The population density was 1,122.8 people per square mile (433.6/km²). There were 4,609 housing units at an average density of 396.9/sq mi (153.3/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 95.85% White, 0.84% African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.25% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.01% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.87% of the population.
There were 4,315 households out of which 47.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.6% were married couples living together, 5.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.4% were non-families. 14.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.37.
In the village the population was spread out with 31.9% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 36.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.7 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the village was $101,958, and the median income for a family was $106,307. Males had a median income of $59,328 versus $35,861 for females. The per capita income for the village was $28,242. About 1.0% of families and 1.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.
A special census conducted in 2007 pegged the city's population at 37,334.
Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 serves Plainfield as well as Plainfield Township in unincorporated parts of Will County, Joliet (Caton Farm Road Corridor), and small parts of Bolingbrook and Romeoville.