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Lake Forest, Illinois

Coordinates: 42°14′5″N 87°51′3″W / 42.23472°N 87.85083°W / 42.23472; -87.85083
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Lake Forest, Illinois
Lake Forest City Hall
Lake Forest City Hall
Location of Lake Forest in Lake County, Illinois.
Location of Lake Forest in Lake County, Illinois.
Lake Forest is located in Chicago metropolitan area
Lake Forest
Lake Forest
Location within Illinois
Lake Forest is located in Illinois
Lake Forest
Lake Forest
Location within United States
Lake Forest is located in the United States
Lake Forest
Lake Forest
Lake Forest (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°14′5″N 87°51′3″W / 42.23472°N 87.85083°W / 42.23472; -87.85083
CountryUnited States
TownshipMoraine, Shields, Vernon, West Deerfield
 • TypeCouncil-manager
 • MayorStanford R. Tack[1]
 • Total17.27 sq mi (44.72 km2)
 • Land17.20 sq mi (44.55 km2)
 • Water0.07 sq mi (0.17 km2)
 • Total19,367
 • Density1,125.99/sq mi (434.74/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area codes847, 224
FIPS code17-41105
Wikimedia CommonsLake Forest, Illinois

Lake Forest is a city located in Lake County, Illinois, United States. Per the 2020 census, the population was 19,367.[3] The city is along the shore of Lake Michigan, and is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area and the North Shore. Lake Forest was founded with Lake Forest College and was laid out as a town in 1857, a stop for travelers making their way south to Chicago. The Lake Forest City Hall, designed by Charles Sumner Frost, was completed in 1898. It originally housed the fire department, the Lake Forest Library, and city offices.[4]


Early history[edit]

The Potawatomi inhabited Lake County before the United States Federal Government forced them out in 1836 as part of Indian Removal of tribes to areas west of the Mississippi River.[5]

As Lake Forest was first developed in 1857, the planners laid roads that would provide limited access to the city in an effort to prevent outside traffic and isolate the tranquil settlement from neighboring areas. Though the town is considerably more accessible today, due in part to the extensive new construction taking place further west, the much smaller neighborhood of eastern Lake Forest, near the coast of Lake Michigan, remains relatively secluded. It is one of the most scenic, historical, and architecturally significant suburbs of Chicago. These neighborhoods include estates and homes designed by distinguished architects such as Howard Van Doren Shaw, David Adler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur Heun, Jerome Cerny, Henry Ives Cobb, and modernist George Fred Keck, among others. Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Jens Jensen also designed projects in Lake Forest. Market Square, designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw, was completed in 1916 as a commercial center for Lake Forest.

Lake Forest had an African-American community from very early on in its history, drawn to employment opportunities on the estates and educational institutions in the late 19th century. Unlike other communities in the area, Lake Forest had many residents who were associated with the Abolitionist movement.[6] Lake Forest's first mayor and a founder of Lake Forest College, Sylvester Lind, was a major figure on the Underground Railroad, and was known to help escaped slaves settle in Lake Forest. Roxana Beecher, niece of abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, taught integrated school in Lake Forest. A prominent early Lake Forest businessman was Samuel Dent, an escaped slave and Union veteran who ran a livery stable. A local jazz band was named in Dent's memory.[7] Another black entrepreneur was Julian Matthews, who ran a bakery, restaurant, and ice cream parlor with his wife Octavia. The second police officer hired in 1900 in Lake Forest was a black man from Kentucky, Walker Sales, who was hired in 1900 and stayed on for nearly 20 years. Members of this African-American community established the African Methodist Episcopal Church as of 1866, and it stood at what is now the corner of Maplewood and Washington Road. By 1900, another black church, the First Baptist Church of Lake Forest, had opened and is still active.[8] By the 1980s, increased housing prices had encouraged some older black residents to sell their properties lucratively, but others stayed in the community.[7] Lake Forest also had a small community of Jews, typified by wealthy socialites such as Albert Lasker and David Adler.[9]

The secluded style of Lake Forest was intended as a form of protection. According to the president of the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, the captains of industry and upper-class elite who first settled in Lake Forest sought a refuge from late 19th and early 20th-century Chicago. In their view, the city was overrun with immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who had dangerous socialist ideas and indulged in excessive alcoholic consumption.[5]

Country clubs became important centers of social activity in Lake Forest's early decades. The Onwentsia Club was, in the words of one writer, "the premiere social and sporting club in the Midwest".[5]

Growth to present day[edit]

Beginning in the 1950s, Lake Forest's population increased dramatically due to an aggressive program of real estate development and annexation of surrounding areas. While city limits did not originally extend west of Green Bay Road, they gradually expanded. The neighborhood now known as "West Lake Forest" was started as an unincorporated community known as Everett, with many Irish farm workers, who were served by Saint Patrick's Catholic Church. This expansion was not without controversy, as many residents felt that the community was losing its character. Novelist Arthur Meeker Jr., who grew up in West Lake Forest in the early 1900s, considered moving back to his childhood community, but upon visiting in the 1950s "to my dismay I found this region wasn’t really rural anymore. … The Lake Forest of my childhood had all but vanished".[10] Everett was annexed by Lake Forest in 1926, but did not become heavily developed for several decades.[11] In 1988, the community expanded further westward, annexing 682 acres of land surrounding Lake Forest Academy and Conway Farms Golf Club, despite negative reactions from residents. The city government justified the expansion as necessary to prevent unwanted commercial development encroaching the edges of the community.[12]

One of Lake Forest's most notable features is its virgin prairies and other nature preserves. In 1967, a group of 12 long-time residents of Lake Forest formed a land conservation organization, Lake Forest Open Lands Association.[13] Its express purpose was to purchase or otherwise set aside the rapidly disappearing open spaces in the city, in the interests of preserving animal habitat, restoring ecosystems, and providing environmental education for the city's children. In the next 38 years, the group managed to acquire more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) within the city limits, which now form six nature preserves with 12 miles (19 km) of walking trails open to the public.

Preserved in perpetuity are wetlands, original pre-1830 prairie, woodland, and savanna, all within the community. The restoration of these lands is celebrated by an annual "Bagpipes and Bonfire" event in September, which started as a community event in which controlled fires were burned to clear underbrush and preserve the savannah. From an early time, the playing of bagpipes has accompanied the community gathering, as the town had numerous Scots-Irish residents in its early years. This has also been an annual fundraising event for Lake Forest Open Lands Association.[14]

It is home to Gorton Center which originally housed the town's first K-8 school. Gorton is a hub for arts & culture and a multi-faceted community venue. Gorton presents live music, storytelling, children's events, community events and more; has a robust and growing film program; produces and offers classes for youth and adults, including Gorton Drama Studio, theater and acting classes for all ages; houses a children's learning center; houses other nonprofits; provides places for others to rent for their special events and meetings. Designed, built and opened as the Central School in 1901, the original building was designed by James Gamble Rogers and remodeled in 1907 by Howard Van Doren Shaw.

The Ragdale Foundation, an artists' community and residence, is located in Lake Forest. Formerly Howard Van Doren Shaw's summer retreat and built in 1897, the estate has accommodated notable artist Sylvia Shaw Judson.

In 1992, Lake Forest gained national attention when it attempted to ban the sale of offensive music to anyone under the age of 18.[15] City council members used existing ordinances against obscenity—defined in the codes as "morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion"—to buttress their campaign.[15] Mayor Charles Clarke stated, "If they sell an obscene tape to somebody underage, we will prosecute."[15] The person who came up most frequently in discussions of obscene content was Ice-T, a rapper who has since also performed as an actor.

Lake Forest has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of its commitment to community forest. As of 2006, Lake Forest had received this national honor for 26 years.[citation needed] The actor Mr. T notably angered the town by cutting down more than 100 oak trees on his estate, in what is now referred to as the "Lake Forest Chain Saw Massacre."[16]


Lake Forest is located in the North Shore area of Chicago.

According to the 2010 census, Lake Forest has a total area of 17.246 square miles (44.67 km2), of which 17.18 square miles (44.50 km2) (or 99.62%) is land and 0.066 square miles (0.17 km2) (or 0.38%) is water.[17]


Market Square
Former Marshall Field's at Market Square; closed as of January 2008
Entrance to department store on Market Square, documenting name change; closed as of January 2008

Commercial development in Lake Forest is focused in three areas, two of which have public railway stations. The central business district includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Union Pacific/North Line. It extends beyond Market Square, providing a mixture of retail, banking, and professional services, as well as restaurants. Market Square is composed of a wide variety of shops and restaurants. The business district to the west includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Milwaukee District/North Line. It extends beyond Settlers' Square to provide a mixture of retail, banking and professional services, as well as restaurants. A third area of business development, consisting mostly of corporate and office space, has been developed along the city's northwestern border with the Tri-State Tollway.

The headquarters of Fortune 500 companies Tenneco, Brunswick, and Hospira are located in Lake Forest; Akorn, Covered Logistics, Horizon Therapeutics, IDEX, Packaging Corporation of America, Pactiv, Prestone, and Trustmark also have their headquarters in Lake Forest, while W. W. Grainger and BFG Technologies are located in unincorporated Lake County, near Lake Forest. The Chicago Bears training facility and headquarters, Halas Hall, opened in 1997 in west Lake Forest, and the Chicago Fire now train at the Bears' previous facility located on the campus of Lake Forest.

Lake Forest is the base for Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD),[18] a national organization aimed at discouraging youth from getting involved in drugs. It empowers parents and community members to encourage the drug-free choice.

Top employers[edit]

According to Lake Forest's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[19] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital 1,395
2 Pfizer 700
3 Abbott 826
4 Trustmark Insurance Company 712
5 Lake Forest College 415
6 Pactiv 388
7 Lake Forest Elementary School District 67 321
8 Packaging Corporation of America 298
9 Lake Forest Community High School District 115 275
10 City of Lake Forest 210


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
2010[21] 2020[22]

2020 census[edit]

Lake Forest city, Illinois – Racial and ethnic composition
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 may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2010[21] Pop 2020[22] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 17,474 16,380 90.19% 84.58%
Black or African American alone (NH) 196 232 1.01% 1.20%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 19 17 0.10% 0.09%
Asian alone (NH) 899 1,114 4.64% 5.75%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 1 3 0.01% 0.02%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 21 62 0.11% 0.32%
Mixed Race or Multi-Racial (NH) 223 645 1.15% 3.33%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 542 914 2.80% 4.72%
Total 19,375 19,367 100.00% 100.00%

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census,[23] there were 19,375 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 92.11% White, 4.67% Asian, 2.80% Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 1.30% of two or more races, 1.10% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, and 0.68% of some other race.

As of the census[24] of 2000, there were 20,059 people, 6,687 households, and 5,329 families living in the city. The population density was 1,189.4 inhabitants per square mile (459.2/km2). There were 7,001 housing units at an average density of 415.1 per square mile (160.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.80% White, 1.35% African American, 0.06% Native American, 2.45% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.

There were 6,687 households, out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.6% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.3% were non-families. Of all households 18.3% Of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the city, 27.5% of the population was under the age of 18, 9.6% were from 18 to 24, 19.7% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $150,670, and the median income for a family was more than $200,000. Males had a median income of $100,000+ versus $44,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $77,092. About 0.15% of families and 0.2% of the population were below the poverty line.


Lake Forest has Interstate Highway access through the Tri-State Tollway (I-94). In addition, the Skokie Highway (U.S. Highway 41) and Skokie Valley Trail runs through Lake Forest, roughly bisecting the city. Lake Forest is connected with suburbs west of it through Illinois Route 60. Additionally, Lake Forest has two Metra commuter railroad stations, both of which share the same name. The Union Pacific North Line has a station in East Lake Forest, while the Milwaukee District North Line has a station in West Lake Forest. The station at Fort Sheridan is located just outside city borders on the UP-N Line and has connections to Pace Route 472.[25]


Most Lake Forest residents attend Lake Forest School District 67 and Lake Forest High School.[26] Lake Forest High School serves Lake Forest as well as parts of neighboring Lake Bluff.

Lake Forest also has another school district, Rondout School District 72, which serves far-eastern parts of Libertyville, and all parts of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff that lie within Libertyville Township. It has one school, Rondout Elementary School, which serves grades K-8. Students attend Libertyville High School after graduating.

Elementary schools and middle schools[edit]

  • Rondout Elementary School-public
  • Deer Path Middle School—public
  • Cherokee Elementary School—public
  • Everett Elementary School—public
  • Sheridan Elementary School—public
  • Lake Forest Country Day School—private
  • School of St. Mary—private
  • East Lake Academy—private
  • Montessori School of Lake Forest—private; Montessori[27]
  • Forest Bluff School—private; Montessori; in neighboring Lake Bluff; majority of students live in Lake Forest[28]

High schools[edit]



Lake Forest is home to the Gorton Center, which houses the John & Nancy Hughes Theater[29] and offers a multitude of programming; the Citadel Theatre Company;[30] and the Music Institute of Chicago Lake Forest Campus. Lake Forest is known for its country clubs, including the Onwentsia Club, Knollwood Club, Conway Farms Golf Club, the Lake Forest Winter Club, and the Lake Forest Club.[31]


Lake Forest is noted in the Chicago area for its history of polo, once being the westernmost establishment of the sport in the United States.[citation needed] It was home to the "East-West clash of 1933",[32] in which a team of "Westerners" (who would today be considered Midwesterners), challenged the best of the Eastern US polo teams, winning two of three matches. Box seats sold for $5.50, and the general public was admitted for $1.10. The Chicago press covered the match extensively, including the arrival of every horse and player, the color of the horseflesh, and the color of the goalposts. The match was described as a "gleaming moment in American polo, if not the very zenith of the game in this country." Today, Lake Forest continues the tradition, and polo is played yearly throughout August.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]




  1. ^ "Mayor - Government | City of Lake Forest". Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  3. ^ "Lake Forest city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  4. ^ A Preservation Foundation Guide to National Register Properties, Lake Forest, Illinois. Second ed. Lake Forest, IL: The Lake Forest Foundation for Historic Preservation, 1994, p. 31.
  5. ^ a b c Solomon, Jeremy (April 22, 1987). "Lake Forest and Lake Bluff have Grown from Same Roots". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ "Ask Geoffrey: 2/18". WTTW News. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Lipp, Linda (February 21, 1993). "Lake Forest Roots". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Arpee, Edward (1963). Lake Forest, Illinois; history and reminiscences, 1861-1961. Rotary Club of Lake Forest. p. 76.
  9. ^ "Advertising". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  10. ^ "Lake Forest Lake Bluff". lflb.passitdown.com. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "Timeline of Lake Forest History" (PDF). History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "Lake Forest Lake Bluff". lflb.passitdown.com. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  13. ^ "Lake Forest Open Lands Association".
  14. ^ "Bagpipes & Bonfire" Archived May 3, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Lake Forest Open Lands Association
  15. ^ a b c Parons, Christi and Cindy Schreuder (September 10, 1992). "Lake Forest calls cops on racy CD lyrics". Chicago Tribune.
  16. ^ Johnson, Dirk (May 30, 1987). "Genteel Chicago Suburb Rages Over Mr. T's Tree Massacre". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  17. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "LEAD - Substance Abuse Prevention for Communities". www.leadingefforts.org. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (PDF). City of Lake Forest. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  20. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  21. ^ a b "P2 Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Lake Forest city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  22. ^ a b "P2 Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Lake Forest city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  23. ^ "Lake Forest, IL Population - Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts - CensusViewer".
  24. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  25. ^ "RTA System Map" (PDF). Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  26. ^ "Prospective Families - Lake Forest Schools". www.lakeforestschools.org. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  27. ^ mslfadmin. "Montessori School of Lake Forest".
  28. ^ "Montessori Schools in Lake Forest - Montessori Schools in Lake Bluff - Forest Bluff School - 847-295-8338".
  29. ^ "Gorton Center".,
  30. ^ "Citadel Theatre Company".
  31. ^ "Your Club or Mine?". Sheridan Road Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  32. ^ Kleine, Ted (October 15, 1998). "LAKE FOREST MAY BE POLO COUNTRY AGAIN". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  33. ^ Hodder & Stoughton, p. 76
  34. ^ Knopf 2006, pp. 224–226.

External links[edit]