Lake County, Illinois

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lake County
Great Lakes Bldg 1.jpg
Flag of Lake County
Official seal of Lake County
Official logo of Lake County
Map of Illinois highlighting Lake County
Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°26′N 87°47′W / 42.43°N 87.78°W / 42.43; -87.78
Country United States
State Illinois
FoundedMarch 1, 1839
Named forLake Michigan
Largest cityWaukegan
 • Total1,368 sq mi (3,540 km2)
 • Land444 sq mi (1,150 km2)
 • Water925 sq mi (2,400 km2)  67.6%
 • Total714,342
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts6th, 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.[1] Its county seat is Waukegan, the tenth-largest city in Illinois.[2] 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.

According to the 2010 census, Lake County is the second most wealthy county in Illinois by per capita income, after DuPage County. Additionally, Lake County ranks as the 27th wealthiest county in the nation. The lakefront communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Highland Park are part of the affluent North Shore area.

Naval Station Great Lakes is located in the city of North Chicago. It is the United States Navy's Headquarters Command for training, and the Navy's only recruit training center.


The Caspar Ott Cabin, built in 1837, is the oldest structure in Lake County.
Lake County at the time of its creation in 1839

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.


A satellite view of the Lake County district

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.[3] 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.

State parks[edit]


Besides Lake Michigan, lakes in the county include:

Natural areas[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]


Employment by occupation in Lake County
Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2019[1]

As of the 2010 Census, there were 703,462 people, 241,712 households, and 179,428 families residing in the county.[10] 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).[3] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[10] 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.[12]

2019 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey estimates[edit]

Racial Makeup of Lake County (2019)[13]

  White alone (74.21%)
  Black alone (6.79%)
  Native American alone (0.34%)
  Asian alone (7.95%)
  Pacific Islander alone (0.01%)
  Some other race alone (7.36%)
  Two or more races (3.33%)

Racial Makeup of Lake County excluding Hispanics from Racial Categories (2019)[13]

  White NH (60.29%)
  Black NH (6.54%)
  Native American NH (0.07%)
  Asian NH (7.90%)
  Pacific Islander NH (0.01%)
  Other race NH (0.25%)
  Two or more races NH (2.51%)
  Hispanic Any Race (22.44%)

Racial Makeup of Hispanics in Lake County (2019)[13]

  White alone (62.07%)
  Black alone (1.12%)
  Native American alone (1.21%)
  Asian alone (0.22%)
  Pacific Islander alone (0.04%)
  Other race alone (31.68%)
  Two or more races (3.65%)

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.[13] 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%).[13] 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.[13]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:

Sites of interest[edit]

Amusement parks[edit]


Performing arts[edit]





Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]


The county is divided into eighteen townships.

Antioch TownshipZion TownshipBenton TownshipNewport TownshipLake Villa TownshipGrant TownshipAvon TownshipWarren TownshipWaukegan TownshipWauconda TownshipFremont TownshipLibertyville TownshipShields TownshipCuba TownshipEla TownshipVernon TownshipWest Deerfield TownshipMoraine Township
Lake County townships (clickable)


Lake County Board
District Board Member Party
1 Linda Pederson Republican
2 Diane Hewitt Democratic
3 Dick Barr Republican
4 Gina Roberts Democratic
5 Judy Martini Republican
6 John Wasik Democratic
7 Carissa Casbon Democratic
8 Bill Durkin Democratic
9 Mary Ross Cunningham Democratic
10 Jessica Vealitzek Democratic
11 Paul Frank Democratic
12 Paras Parekh Democratic
13 Sandy Hart, Chairman Democratic
14 Angelo D. Kyle Democratic
15 Jennifer Clark Democratic
16 Terry Wilke Democratic
17 Michael Danforth Republican
18 Julie Simpson Democratic
19 Craig Taylor Republican
20 Marah Altenberg 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.[14]

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[15]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 36.9% 123,594 61.0% 204,032 1.9% 6,551
2016 36.2% 109,767 56.4% 171,095 7.5% 22,658
2012 45.1% 129,764 53.5% 153,757 1.4% 3,972
2008 39.5% 118,545 59.1% 177,242 1.4% 4,113
2004 50.5% 139,081 48.8% 134,352 0.7% 1,862
2000 50.0% 120,988 47.5% 115,058 2.5% 6,118
1996 45.5% 93,149 45.6% 93,315 8.9% 18,300
1992 44.2% 99,000 36.5% 81,693 19.3% 43,294
1988 63.5% 114,115 35.8% 64,327 0.7% 1,191
1984 68.4% 118,401 31.1% 53,947 0.5% 876
1980 58.5% 96,350 29.3% 48,287 12.3% 20,216
1976 60.3% 92,231 37.8% 57,741 1.9% 2,922
1972 65.8% 92,052 33.9% 47,416 0.3% 344
1968 56.6% 68,999 35.6% 43,409 7.8% 9,495
1964 48.4% 58,840 51.6% 62,785 0.0% 42
1960 59.0% 67,809 40.9% 46,941 0.1% 149
1956 67.3% 66,781 32.5% 32,279 0.1% 129
1952 62.8% 54,929 37.0% 32,353 0.2% 145
1948 63.3% 39,456 35.6% 22,192 1.2% 720
1944 58.2% 35,674 41.5% 25,453 0.3% 183
1940 60.3% 38,242 39.3% 24,965 0.4% 254
1936 51.3% 27,548 45.7% 24,524 3.0% 1,603
1932 50.9% 23,994 44.9% 21,139 4.2% 1,989
1928 67.7% 26,814 31.0% 12,252 1.3% 521
1924 75.5% 18,229 8.3% 2,008 16.2% 3,913
1920 82.3% 15,712 12.2% 2,321 5.6% 1,063
1916 67.0% 12,905 28.3% 5,447 4.8% 924
1912 21.6% 2,183 24.1% 2,436 54.3% 5,494
1908 68.2% 6,392 24.1% 2,264 7.7% 723
1904 77.1% 6,635 18.5% 1,592 4.4% 378
1900 67.7% 5,136 29.5% 2,235 2.9% 217
1896 72.5% 5,027 25.6% 1,777 1.9% 133
1892 57.2% 2,932 38.3% 1,964 4.5% 233


Lake County is covered in the Chicago media market and the county relies on Chicago television stations, radio stations, and newspapers for the source of its news and information.

The county has multiple radio stations, including 102.3 FM XLC and 98.3 FM WRLR.

The Lake County News-Sun, owned by Tribune Publishing, is the county's main print newspaper. It is printed and published in Gurnee.[16]

Lake and McHenry County Scanner, launched in 2012 by Sam Borcia,[17] is the county's biggest digital newspaper which covers Lake County as well as nearby McHenry County, Illinois.[18] The publication's work has been quoted in top news outlets such as Fox News[19] and Yahoo! News.[20]

The county is also covered by the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Herald.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Bureau, US Census. "2020 Population and Housing State Data". The United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  4. ^ "Lake County Forest Preserves". Archived from the original on June 21, 2010.
  5. ^ "Restoration workdays". Lake County. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ a b c "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.
  11. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ a b c d e f "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.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  16. ^ "Lake County News-Sun (Chicago, Il) 2006-Current [Online Resource]". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "About Us". Lake and McHenry County Scanner. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  19. ^ Gearty, Robert (April 11, 2020). "Retired Illinois fire department captain dies from coronavirus complications: report". Fox News. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  20. ^ "Parents Accused of Murdering Missing Ill. Boy, 5, Whose Body Was Found Wrapped in Plastic". Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  21. ^ "Pete Wilson". Archived from the original on September 1, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2018.

General sources[edit]

  • 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.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°26′N 87°47′W / 42.43°N 87.78°W / 42.43; -87.78