Lake County, Illinois

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Lake County, Illinois
Great Lakes Bldg 1.jpg
Seal of Lake County, Illinois
Logo of Lake County, Illinois
Map of Illinois highlighting Lake County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded March 1, 1839
Named for Lake Michigan
Seat Waukegan
Largest city Waukegan
 • Total 1,368 sq mi (3,543 km2)
 • Land 444 sq mi (1,150 km2)
 • Water 925 sq mi (2,396 km2), 67.6%
 • (2010) 703,462
 • Density 1,586/sq mi (612/km²)
Congressional districts 6th, 10th, 14th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Lake County is a county in the northeastern corner of the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 703,462,[1] making it the third-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Waukegan.[2] Originally part of McHenry County, the townships composing Lake County were carved out into a separate county in 1839.

Lake County is one of the collar counties of the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located along the shore of Lake Michigan.

According to the 2000 census, Lake County is the 31st richest county by per capita income. 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 in Lake County. 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 1982-1988. 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. 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. 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]


2000 census age pyramid for Lake County
Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 2,634
1850 14,226 440.1%
1860 18,257 28.3%
1870 21,014 15.1%
1880 21,296 1.3%
1890 24,235 13.8%
1900 34,504 42.4%
1910 55,058 59.6%
1920 74,285 34.9%
1930 104,387 40.5%
1940 121,094 16.0%
1950 179,097 47.9%
1960 293,656 64.0%
1970 382,638 30.3%
1980 440,372 15.1%
1990 516,418 17.3%
2000 644,356 24.8%
2010 703,462 9.2%
Est. 2014 705,186 [6] 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 703,462 people, 241,712 households, and 179,428 families residing in the county.[11] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[11]

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.[13]


The following sports teams play in Lake County:

- Lake County Fielders baseball Lake County Coyotes Baseball

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 Township Zion Township Benton Township Newport Township Lake Villa Township Grant Township Avon Township Warren Township Waukegan Township Wauconda Township Fremont Township Libertyville Township Shields Township Cuba Township Ela Township Vernon Township West Deerfield Township Moraine Township
Lake County townships (clickable)

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The most notable movies which filmed through the years at Lake county are:

  • Ordinary People (1980) - the movie was filmed in Highwood, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, and Wilmette.
  • Class (1983) - the movie was filmed at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest and other locations in Chicago.
  • Risky Business (1983) - the movie was filmed in Deerfield, Highland Park, and Skokie.
  • Planes Trains and Automobiles (1987) - Partially filmed at El Rancho Motel - 36355 N. US Hwy 41, Gurnee, Illinois, USA
  • Chain Reaction (1996) - the movie has scenes filmed at a famous Lake Bluff estate and was largely shot in downtown Chicago.

See also[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. 

External links[edit]

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