Beloit, the town, is an interesting little place. It can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a real city
or a small town
; consequently, it tries to do both and succeeds at neither. The population is around 35,000, which makes it a small city (if you're in the middle of nowhere) or a meaningless little chunk of suburbia
(if you're part of a megalopolis--say, for instance, Los Angeles
) by nature. Part of its conflict in determining what it wants to be comes from being near, but not adjacent to, many major cities. It's a two hour drive to Milwaukee
, an hour to Madison
, and half an hour to Rockford
, and suburban sprawl hasn't quite reached out from the Lake Michigan megalopolis
to encompass the city yet. (Thank the gods for small favors.)
The highlights of Beloit, as one who grew up there, were the college, the quality of the public schools, and the few decent used bookstores that were available. The town used to consist almost exclusively of the college, Fairbanks-Morse's plant, and the Beloit Corporation, and their employees. As the suburbs grow towards the city and hard economic times kill its industries, however, Beloit is becoming a bedroom community for people working in Madison, Rockford, and points east.
The college is home to your usual collection of idiosyncratic people. When I was in high school, I thought the students were particularly weird. Now that I'm out of college, they seem pretty normal, as students at liberal arts colleges go. The college has a couple of sports claims to fame, despite being a NCAA Division III school. Bill Knapton used to be the men's basketball coach; he was the only Division III coach on the NCAA's coaches' committee for a time in the 1980's and 1990's. He is among the most successful coaches in college basketball history. The college football team was nominated for an ESPY award for a highlight-reel (or blooper-reel, depending on your perspective) punt return featuring mass confusion among the defenders over where the ball was and why some fool was running towards their end zone.
Beloit's a nice place to be from.