|Founded||March 1, 1839|
|Named for||Lake Michigan|
|• Total||1,368 sq mi (3,540 km2)|
|• Land||444 sq mi (1,150 km2)|
|• Water||925 sq mi (2,400 km2) 67.6%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||520/sq mi (200/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||6th, 10th, 14th|
Lake County is situated in the northeastern corner of the U.S. state of Illinois, along the shores of Lake Michigan. As of the 2020 census, it has a population of 714,342, making it the third-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Waukegan, the tenth-largest city in Illinois. The county is primarily suburban, with some urban areas and some rural areas. Due to its location, immediately north of Cook County, Lake County is one of the collar counties of the Chicago metropolitan area. Its northern boundary is the Wisconsin state line.
According to the 2010 census, Lake County is the second wealthiest county in the state by per capita income, after DuPage County. Additionally, Lake County ranks as the 27th wealthiest county in the nation. The county includes the affluent North Shore communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Highland Park, and much of the county's wealth is concentrated in this area, as well as in communities bordering Cook County to the south and McHenry County to the west. The north and northwest areas of the county, though historically rural and exurban, have experienced rapid suburbanization in the past three decades, while the lakefront communities of Waukegan, North Chicago, and Zion are post-industrial areas and majority non-white.
The county, which was primarily unsettled prairie and was still home to its native Potawatomi Indians, was created by the Illinois State Legislature in 1839. At that time, Libertyville, then known as Independence Grove, was the first county seat. In 1841, however, the county's residents voted to move the county government to Little Fort, now Waukegan, where the commissioners had purchased a section of land from the state. Lake County's first courthouse was built on part of that land in 1844 and the remainder was sold to pay for the $4,000 construction cost.
The county's first courthouse was used solely for court sessions and the jail, but in 1853, commissioners constructed a building to accommodate county administration offices and house records. When fire damaged the courthouse on October 19, 1875, the county records were saved because they were in the adjacent building.
After the fire, proposals were made to move the county seat to Highland Park, Libertyville or another site in central Lake County. The county commissioners, however, decided to rebuild in Waukegan. The east half of the building was reconstructed at a cost of $45,000. In 1895, the first jail building was added to the government complex and a west addition was added to the courthouse in 1922. By 1938, county commissioners saw a need for additional space and approved the addition of a 5th Floor. This courthouse, however, was demolished in 1967 to make room for a new high-rise administration building, which was completed with the addition of the jail in 1969 and courts in 1970.
Shortly thereafter, the Lake County Board commissioned the construction of a multi-faceted justice facility and ground was broken in 1986 for the Robert H. Babcox Justice Center, named in memory of Sheriff Babcox, who served as Lake County Sheriff from 1982 to 1988. The justice center, which houses the county jail, work release program, sheriff's administration offices and three courtrooms, was finished in 1989 at a cost of $29.6 million.
Additional county government facilities have been built or expanded throughout Lake County, including the Coroner's Office, Health Department/Community Health Center facilities, Division of Transportation, Public Works and Winchester House. Lake County government services extend throughout the county's 470 square miles (1,200 km2).
The historic Half Day Inn, a tavern/restaurant, was constructed in 1843. This structure, once located at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Rte. 45/Old Half Day Road, was one of the oldest structures in Lake County until it was demolished in 2007 to make way for retail space, condominiums, and a retention pond.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,368 square miles (3,540 km2), of which 444 square miles (1,150 km2) is land and 935 square miles (2,420 km2) (67.6%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Illinois by total area and the only one that has more water area than land area. Most of the water is in Lake Michigan.
Besides Lake Michigan, lakes in the county include:
Lake County's forest preserves and natural areas are administered by the Lake County Forest Preserves district. These facilities include traditional nature preserves, such as the Ryerson Conservation Area, as well as golf courses and historic homes, such as the Adlai Stevenson historic home. A long north–south string of the preserves in Lake County, including Half Day Woods, Old School Forest Preserve, Independence Grove, and Van Patten Woods, form the Des Plaines River Greenway, which contains the Des Plaines River Trail, a popular place for walking, running, and biking. Lake County is also home to Illinois Beach State Park, featuring over six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as dune areas, wetlands, prairie, and black oak savanna. Several local environmental groups operate in Lake County, such as Conserve Lake County and Citizens for Conservation, working to improve habitat. Volunteer opportunities also exist with the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
- Interstate 94
- Interstate 41
- U.S. Route 12
- U.S. Route 14
- U.S. Route 41
- U.S. Route 45
- Illinois Route 21
- Illinois Route 22
- Illinois Route 43
- Illinois Route 53
- Illinois Route 59
- Illinois Route 60
- Illinois Route 83
- Illinois Route 120
- Illinois Route 131
- Illinois Route 132
- Illinois Route 134
- Illinois Route 137
- Illinois Route 173
- Illinois Route 176
County Routes and County Highways
Lake County's County Road system currently covers 300 miles of road. The county also employs two different numbering systems, a County Route system and a County Highway system. While both systems' can be seen on official road maps only the County Route designations have been indicated with highway markers on traffic signals or dedicated poles.
The County Route system in use today by Lake County was purportedly intended to be the dominant system for all of Illinois' counties and was proposed by the National Association of Counties (NACo), however their system was not chosen and instead each county was given the freedom to number their own county routes as well as choose whether or not to produce and display highway markers. Currently, only Lake County, Boone County, McHenry County, and Cook County use NACo's proposed numbering system, and of the four only Lake and McHenry Counties chose to fully display the County Route designations on highway markers. Cook County began to roll out the production of highway markers near the beginning of 2009 however the seemingly arbitrary numbering system as well as the cost to produce the markers resulted in a lot of confusion and backlash, and ultimately only some of the markers were produced and mounted.
For Lake County, all North—South-bound County Routes begin with an "A", while East—West-bound County Routes on the western half of the county begin with a "V", and those located eastern half begin with a "W".
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||458,701||408,349||65.21%||57.16%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||46,989||47,240||6.68%||6.61%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||1,058||909||0.15%||0.13%|
|Asian alone (NH)||43,954||58,901||6.25%||8.25%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||228||312||0.03%||0.04%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||1,547||3,264||0.22%||0.46%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||10,998||23,405||1.56%||3.28%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||139,987||171,962||19.90%||24.07%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
As of the 2010 Census, there were 703,462 people, 241,712 households, and 179,428 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,585.6 inhabitants per square mile (612.2/km2). There were 260,310 housing units at an average density of 586.7 per square mile (226.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 75.1% white, 7.0% black or African American, 6.3% Asian, 0.5% American Indian, 8.5% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 19.9% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 20.5% were German, 12.9% were Irish, 9.4% were Polish, 6.9% were Italian, 6.5% were English, and 4.0% were American.
Of the 241,712 households, 40.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.6% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 25.8% were non-families, and 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.31. The median age was 36.7 years. The median income for a household in the county was $78,948 and the median income for a family was $91,693. Males had a median income of $62,042 versus $44,200 for females. The per capita income for the county was $38,120. About 4.8% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.6% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.
2019 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey estimates
According to 2019 US Census Bureau American Community Survey one-year estimates (which is conducted annually for cities over 65,000 via sampling), the population of Lake County, Illinois was 74.2% White (60.3% Non-Hispanic White and 13.9% Hispanic White), 6.8% Black or African American, 8.0% Asian, 0.3% Native American and Alaskan Native, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.4% Some Other Race, and 3.3% from two or more races. The White population continues to remain the largest racial category as Hispanics in Lake County primarily identify as White (62.1%) with others identifying as Some Other Race (31.7%), Multiracial (3.7%), Black (1.1%), American Indian and Alaskan Native (1.2%), Asian (0.2%), and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (0.1%). By ethnicity, 22.4% of the total population is Hispanic-Latino (of any race) and 77.6% is Non-Hispanic (of any race). If treated as a separate category, Hispanics are the largest minority group in Lake County, Illinois. Majority of Hispanic/ Latino residents in Lake County, Illinois are of Mexican descent. Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Central Americans, and South Americans also reside in Lake County, Illinois.
The following sports teams play in Lake County:
- Lake County Fielders baseball (defunct)
- Lake County Coyotes baseball
Sites of interest
- Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois
- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Chicago in Gurnee, Illinois
- Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois
- Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois
- Lake County Discovery Museum in Libertyville, Illinois
- Warbird Heritage Foundation in Waukegan, Illinois
- Waukegan History Museum in Waukegan, Illinois
- Raupp Museum in Buffalo Grove, IL
- Shiloh House in Zion, IL
- Fort Hill Memorial Museum in Mundelein, IL
- Dunn Museum in Libertyville, IL
- Adler Arts Center in Libertyville, Illinois
- ArtWauk in Waukegan, Illinois
- Clockwise Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois
- Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois
- James Lumber Center for Performing Arts in Grayslake, Illinois
- Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois
- Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois
- Barrington (part)
- Barrington Hills (part)
- Beach Park
- Buffalo Grove (part)
- Deer Park (part)
- Fox Lake (part)
- Fox River Grove (part)
- Green Oaks
- Hawthorn Woods
- Indian Creek
- Island Lake (part)
- Lake Barrington
- Lake Bluff
- Lake Villa
- Lake Zurich
- Lakemoor (mostly)
- Long Grove
- North Barrington
- Old Mill Creek
- Palatine (unincorporated part)
- Port Barrington (part)
- Round Lake
- Round Lake Beach
- Round Lake Heights
- Round Lake Park
- Spring Grove (unincorporated part)
- Third Lake
- Tower Lakes
- Vernon Hills
- Wheeling (part)
- Winthrop Harbor
The county is divided into eighteen townships.
|Lake County Board|
|9||Mary Ross Cunningham||Democratic|
|13||Sandy Hart, Chairman||Democratic|
|14||Angelo D. Kyle||Democratic|
|21||Ann B. Maine||Republican|
As a historic Yankee settlement, Lake County was initially a stronghold of the Free Soil Party. In the 1848 presidential election, it was Free Soil nominee and former President Martin van Buren’s strongest county, giving him over 58 percent of the vote.
Consequently, Lake County would turn rock-solid Republican for most of the next century and a half. After narrowly supporting Democrat Franklin Pierce in 1852, it voted Republican at all but one presidential election from 1856 to 1960. This tradition was only broken in 1912, when the GOP was mortally divided and Lake County voted for Progressive Party nominee and former President Theodore Roosevelt over conservative incumbent William Howard Taft.
In 1964 the Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater, whose hostility to the Yankee establishment and strongly conservative platform were sufficient to leave many traditional Republicans to stay home or even to vote for Lyndon Johnson, who narrowly became the first Democrat to win an absolute majority in the county since James K. Polk in 1844, and the first to win it at all since Pierce in 1852. Between 1968 and 1988, however, Lake County became powerfully Republican once more, with no Democrat cracking forty percent of the vote.
However, as in the other collar counties, the Republican edge narrowed considerably in the 1990s, and Bill Clinton actually won it with a 166-vote plurality in 1996–the only time that Clinton won any of the collar counties besides Will County during his two campaigns for president. After narrowly voting for George W. Bush twice, in 2008 it swung over dramatically to support Democrat and then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who carried it by almost 20 points. Obama won it but by a slimmer margin in 2012. Hillary Clinton won it handily in 2016, tallying her second-best margin in the state. At 36%, Donald Trump's performance in the county was the worst of any Republican presidential nominee since 1912. In 2020, Joe Biden won 61% of the vote, the highest percentage of the vote for any candidate since 1988 and the highest ever attained by a Democrat.
Lake County has the highest payout for wrongful conviction in the United States. Juan Rivera was awarded $20 million, the largest wrongful conviction settlement in United States history, including $2 million from John E. Reid & Associates, who were known for the Reid technique of questioning suspects. This technique has been widely criticized for its history of eliciting confessions that were later determined to be false. Rivera was questioned twice at Reid headquarters by an employee of the company during his interrogation, which lasted for several days. Another payout was made to Jerry Hobbs. Kathleen Zellner settled Jerry Hobbs' civil rights case for $7.75 million. Hobbs was incarcerated for 66 months. This was the largest pre-trial detainee settlement in the United States.
The county has multiple radio stations, including 102.3 FM XLC and 98.3 FM WRLR.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner, launched in 2012 by Sam Borcia, is the county's biggest digital newspaper which covers Lake County as well as nearby McHenry County, Illinois. The publication's work has been quoted in top news outlets such as Fox News and Yahoo! News.
The following is a list of school districts with any territory in Lake County, no matter how slight, even if the school districts' administrative headquarters and/or schools are outside of the county:
- Barrington Community Unit School District 22
- Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95
- North Chicago School District 187
- Round Lake Community Unit School District 116
- Wauconda Community Unit School District 118
- Waukegan Community Unit School District 60
- Antioch Community High School District 117
- Community High School District 155
- Grant Community High School District 124
- Grayslake Community High School District 127
- Lake Forest Community High School District 115
- Libertyville Community High School District 128
- Mundelein Consolidated High School District 120
- Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157
- Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125
- Township High School District 113
- Warren Township High School District 121
- Zion-Benton Township High School District 126
- Antioch Community Consolidated School District 34
- Aptakisic-Tripp Community Consolidated School District
- Bannockburn School District 106
- Beach Park Community Consolidated School District 3
- Big Hollow School District 38
- Cary Community Consolidated School District 26
- Deerfield School District 109
- Diamond Lake School District 76
- Emmons School District 33
- Fox Lake Grade School District 114
- Fremont School District 79
- Gavin School District 37
- Grass Lake School District 36
- Grayslake Consolidated Community School District 46
- Gurnee School District 56
- Hawthorn Community Consolidated School District 73
- Kildeer Countryside Community Consolidated School District 96
- Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65
- Lake Forest School District 67
- Lake Villa Community Consolidated School District 41
- Libertyville School District 70
- Lincolnshire-Prairieview School District 103
- McHenry Community Consolidated School District 15
- Millburn Community Consolidated School District 24
- Mundelein Elementary School District 75
- North Shore School District 112
- Nippersink School District 2
- Oak Grove School District 68
- Rondout School District 72
- Winthrop Harbor School District 1
- Woodland Community Consolidated School District 50
- Zion Elementary School District 6
- Jack Benny (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) – entertainer, comedian, actor and musician, Benny was one of America's greatest stars of radio and television, and also appeared in many films; he was raised in Waukegan, Illinois.
- Charles Boyce (September 21, 1949) – cartoonist, creator of syndicated comic panel Compu-toon and the telecommunication public affairs image The KeyPad Kid.
- Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) – fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury is widely considered one of the greatest and most popular American writers of speculative fiction of the twentieth century. Bradbury was born in Waukegan.
- Marlon Brando (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) actor; as a young sex symbol, he is best known for his roles in A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and Guys and Dolls. Brando and his family moved to Libertyville, Illinois where he lived from 1937 until 1942.
- Gary Coleman (February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010) – actor, known for his role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986). Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois.
- Ron Goldman (July 2, 1968 – June 12, 1994), who was killed along with Nicole Brown Simpson grew up in Buffalo Grove.
- Michael Jordan (born February 17, 1963) – retired professional basketball player and active businessman, widely considered one of the greatest players of all time; as of 2015, Jordan had a residence in Highland Park, Illinois.
- Vince Vaughn (born March 28, 1970) – actor, known for his roles in Swingers and Wedding Crashers; grew up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, then moved to Lake Forest, Illinois, where he graduated from Lake Forest High School in 1988.
- Pete Wilson (born August 23, 1933), Mayor of San Diego (1971-1983); United States Senator from California (1983-1991); and Governor of California (1991-1999), born in Lake Forest.
- Thomas E. Wilson (1868-1958), businessman and founder of 'Wilson Sporting Goods', resident and buried in Lake County.
- IL-53 extension issue
- List of school districts in Lake County, Illinois
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Lake County, Illinois
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Lake County Forest Preserves". Archived from the original on June 21, 2010.
- "Restoration workdays". Lake County. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- https://iaceng.org/page/LakeCounty[bare URL]
- "New signs point to confusion". Chicago Tribune.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved July 5, 2022.
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- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Lake County, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
- "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Lake County, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
- "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
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- "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "B03002 HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE - Lake County, Illinois - 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2019. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
- "$7.75 Million Settlement for Father Wrongly Jailed for Daughter's Murder - the National Trial Lawyers".
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- "Lake County News-Sun (Chicago, Il) 2006-Current [Online Resource]". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
- technology, Charlie Sorrel Freelance Technology Reporter Charlie Sorrel has been writing about; Society, Its Effects on; Planet, The; Sorrel, for 13 years our editorial process Charlie. "Apple's News Partner Program May Not Fix Apple News". Lifewire. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
- "About Us". Lake and McHenry County Scanner. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
- Gearty, Robert (April 11, 2020). "Retired Illinois fire department captain dies from coronavirus complications: report". Fox News. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
- "Parents Accused of Murdering Missing Ill. Boy, 5, Whose Body Was Found Wrapped in Plastic". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
- "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Lake County, IL" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 27, 2022. Retrieved July 20, 2022. - Text list
- "Pete Wilson". www.nndb.com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
- Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 : from the twenty-one decennial censuses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8.
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