Batavia was founded in 1833, and is the oldest city in Kane County, Illinois, with a small portion in DuPage County. During the Industrial Revolution, Batavia became known as ‘The Windmill City’ for being the largest windmill producer of the time. Fermilab, a federal government-sponsored high-energy physics laboratory, where both the bottom quark and top quarks were first detected, is located here. Batavia is part of a Tri-Cities area, along with St. Charles and Geneva. As of the 2000 U.S. census, the city had a total population of 23,866. A 2003 special census put the city's population at 25,246. The official 2008 population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau for the city of Batavia is 27,502.
Batavia was first settled in 1835. The town was named by local judge and former Congressman Isaac Wilson in 1840. Batavia was on the front lines of the Black Hawk War in which Abraham Lincoln was a citizen soldier, and Zachary Taylor and Jefferson Davis were Army officers. Although there is no direct evidence that any of them were actually in Batavia, there are writings by Lincoln that refer to "Head of the Big Woods", which was the original name of Batavia given by its original settler, Christopher Payne. Mary Todd Lincoln was an involuntary resident of the Batavia Institute in 1875. In the late 1800s, Batavia was a major manufacturer of the Conestoga wagons used in the country's westward expansion. Into the early 1900s, most of the windmill operated waterpumps in use throughout America's farms were made at one of the three windmill manufacturing companies in Batavia. Many of the original limestone buildings that were part of these factories are still in use today as government and commercial offices and storefronts. The Aurora Elgin and Chicago Railway constructed a power plant in southern Batavia and added a branch to the city in 1902. The Campana Factory was built in 1936 to manufacture cosmetics for The Campana Company, most notably Italian Balm, the nation's best-selling hand lotion at the time.