@flaggy.... my family moved there summer of '69. Grew up on N. Broadway near the Old Hickory Hut Restaurant owned by the Grabavoys ( gone now ). You're so right, downtown was such a neat, hopping area. So much to see and do back then, you could spend all day down there.
Now, as you said, the Casino mainly rules the downtown area. So much history has been tore down.
If you are ever on / or visit Face Book, there is a pretty neat site to see. It's called "You Know You're From Joliet If....". You should really check it out. So much history and old pictures of yesteryear have been posted there. That will definitely bring back a lot memories for you. And I'm sure you will know a few people there as well. Enjoy!
Here is the link for you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/33141388226/