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Lake County, Illinois

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Founded  March 1, 1839
Seat  Waukegan
Congressional districts  6th, 10th, 14th
Area  3,543 km²
Unemployment rate  4.5% (Apr 2015)
Named for  Lake Michigan
Largest city  Waukegan
Time zone  Central: UTC-6/-5
Population  703,019 (2013)
Lake County, Illinois wwwusgwarchivesnetmapsillinoisil1875LAKEJPG
Destinations  Gurnee, Fox Lake, Waukegan, North Chicago
Rivers  Fox River, Des Plaines crater, North Branch Chicago River
Colleges and Universities  College of Lake County, Lake Forest College, Rosalind Franklin University, Trinity International University, University of Saint Mary of th
Points of interest  Volo Auto Museum, Six Flags Great America, Lake County Discovery, Cuneo Museum, Volo Bog State Natural A

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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, making it the third-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Waukegan. Originally part of McHenry County, the townships composing Lake County were carved out into a separate county in 1839.


Map of Lake County, IL, USA

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.

Lake county illinois


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.


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. Most of the water is in Lake Michigan.

State parks

  • Illinois Beach State Park
  • North Point Marina
  • Volo Bog State Natural Area
  • Chain O'Lakes State Park
  • Lakes

    Besides Lake Michigan, lakes in the county include:

    Natural areas

    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. 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.

    Adjacent counties

  • Kenosha County, Wisconsin - north
  • Allegan County, Michigan - northeast (EST Border)
  • Van Buren County, Michigan - east (EST Border)
  • Berrien County, Michigan - southeast (EST Border)
  • Cook County - south
  • McHenry County - west
  • Demographics

    As of the 2010 United States 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.


    The following sports teams play in Lake County:

    - Lake County Fielders baseball (defunct)

    - Lake County Coyotes baseball

    Amusement parks

  • Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois
  • Lambs Farm in Lake Bluff, Illinois
  • Museums

  • Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois
  • Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois
  • Warbird Heritage Foundation in Waukegan, Illinois
  • Waukegan History Museum in Waukegan, Illinois
  • Shiloh House in Zion, IL
  • Performing arts

  • ArtWauk in Waukegan, Illinois
  • Clockwise Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois
  • Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois
  • Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois
  • Other

  • Downtown Waukegan
  • Naval Station Great Lakes
  • North Shore Distillery in Lake Bluff, Illinois
  • Politics

    Lake County was historically a Republican stronghold. It voted Republican in all but two presidential elections from 1944 to 2004. However, the Republican edge narrowed considerably in the 1990s, and 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 almost as easily in 2012, and Hillary Clinton won it handily in 2016.


    The county is divided into eighteen townships.

    Notable people

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Juan Rivera (October 31, 1972) - Waukegan man who was wrongfully convicted of the 1992 murder of 11-year-old Holly Skater. After his exoneration, he was awarded $20 million USD—the largest settlement for a wrongful conviction in US history.
  • Ron Goldman (July 2, 1968 – June 12, 1994), who was killed along with Nicole Brown Simpson grew up in Buffalo Grove.
  • 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.
  • References

    Lake County, Illinois Wikipedia

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