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Lake County, Illinois
Great Lakes Bldg 1.jpg
Naval Station Great Lakes, View of Lake Michigan at Illinois Beach State Park
Flag of Lake County, Illinois
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 U.S. highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded March 1, 1839
Named for Lake Michigan
Seat Waukegan
Largest city Waukegan
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,368 sq mi (3,543 km²)
444 sq mi (1,150 km²)
925 sq mi (2,396 km²), 67.6
 -  Density

Congressional districts 6th, 10th, 14th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

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[]

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


Besides Lake Michigan, lakes in the county include:

  • Bangs Lake
  • Bluff Lake
  • Butler Lake
  • Channel Lake
  • Lake Charles
  • Countryside Lake
  • Druce Lake
  • Dunns Lake
  • East Loon Lake
  • Fox Lake
  • Gages Lake
  • Grays Lake
  • Highland Lake
  • Island Lake
  • Lake Linden
  • Loch Lomond
  • Loon Lake
  • Lake Naomi
  • Sterling Lake
  • Valley Lake
  • Wooster Lake

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.[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[]

Major highways[]


Employment by occupation in Lake County

Historical populations
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%
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[]

Circle frame.svg

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%)

Circle frame.svg

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%)

Circle frame.svg

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:

  • Lake County Fielders baseball (defunct)
  • Lake County Coyotes baseball

Sites of interest[]

Amusement parks[]

Six Flags Great America

  • Six Flags Great America 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

Performing arts[]

Genesee Theatre


  • Naval Station Great Lakes
  • Gurnee Mills shopping mall
  • Lake Michigan




  • Antioch
  • Bannockburn
  • Barrington
  • Barrington Hills (part)
  • Beach Park
  • Buffalo Grove (part)
  • Deerfield
  • Deer Park
  • Fox Lake
  • Fox River Grove
  • Grayslake
  • Green Oaks
  • Gurnee
  • Hainesville
  • Hawthorn Woods
  • Indian Creek
  • Island Lake
  • Kildeer
  • Lake Barrington
  • Lake Bluff
  • Lake Villa
  • Lake Zurich
  • Lakemoor (mostly)
  • Libertyville
  • Lincolnshire
  • Lindenhurst
  • Long Grove
  • Mettawa
  • Mundelein
  • North Barrington
  • Old Mill Creek
  • Palatine (unincorporated part)
  • Port Barrington
  • Riverwoods
  • Round Lake
  • Round Lake Beach
  • Round Lake Heights
  • Round Lake Park
  • Spring Grove (unincorporated part)
  • Third Lake
  • Tower Lakes
  • Vernon Hills
  • Volo
  • Wadsworth
  • Wauconda
  • Wheeling (part)
  • Winthrop Harbor

Census-designated places[]

  • Channel Lake
  • Forest Lake
  • Fox Lake Hills
  • Gages Lake
  • Grandwood Park
  • Knollwood
  • Lake Catherine
  • Long Lake
  • Venetian Village

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Aptakisic
  • Diamond Lake
  • Eddy
  • Fort Sheridan
  • Fremont Center
  • Gilmer
  • Grange Hall
  • Grass Lake
  • Ingleside
  • Ivanhoe
  • Kennedy
  • Loon Lake
  • Millburn
  • Monaville
  • Palm Beach
  • Prairie View
  • Rondout (Part of Lake Bluff)
  • Rosecrans
  • Russell
  • Sylvan Lake
  • West Miltmore
  • Wildwood
  • Wilson


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
About this image

Lake County townships (clickable)

  • Antioch
  • Avon
  • Benton
  • Cuba
  • Ela
  • Fremont
  • Grant
  • Lake Villa
  • Libertyville
  • Moraine
  • Newport
  • Shields
  • Vernon
  • Warren
  • Wauconda
  • Waukegan
  • West Deerfield
  • Zion


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]

United States presidential election results for Lake County, Illinois[15]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 123,594 36.82% 204,032 60.78% 8,049 2.40%
2016 109,767 36.16% 171,095 56.37% 22,658 7.47%
2012 129,764 45.14% 153,757 53.48% 3,972 1.38%
2008 118,545 39.53% 177,242 59.10% 4,113 1.37%
2004 139,081 50.52% 134,352 48.80% 1,862 0.68%
2000 120,988 49.96% 115,058 47.51% 6,118 2.53%
1996 93,149 45.49% 93,315 45.57% 18,300 8.94%
1992 99,000 44.20% 81,693 36.47% 43,294 19.33%
1988 114,115 63.53% 64,327 35.81% 1,191 0.66%
1984 118,401 68.35% 53,947 31.14% 876 0.51%
1980 96,350 58.45% 48,287 29.29% 20,216 12.26%
1976 92,231 60.32% 57,741 37.77% 2,922 1.91%
1972 92,052 65.84% 47,416 33.91% 344 0.25%
1968 68,999 56.60% 43,409 35.61% 9,495 7.79%
1964 58,840 48.36% 62,785 51.60% 42 0.03%
1960 67,809 59.02% 46,941 40.85% 149 0.13%
1956 66,781 67.33% 32,279 32.54% 129 0.13%
1952 54,929 62.83% 32,353 37.01% 145 0.17%
1948 39,456 63.26% 22,192 35.58% 720 1.15%
1944 35,674 58.19% 25,453 41.52% 183 0.30%
1940 38,242 60.26% 24,965 39.34% 254 0.40%
1936 27,548 51.32% 24,524 45.69% 1,603 2.99%
1932 23,994 50.92% 21,139 44.86% 1,989 4.22%
1928 26,814 67.73% 12,252 30.95% 521 1.32%
1924 18,229 75.48% 2,008 8.31% 3,913 16.20%
1920 15,712 82.28% 2,321 12.15% 1,063 5.57%
1916 12,905 66.95% 5,447 28.26% 924 4.79%
1912 2,183 21.59% 2,436 24.09% 5,494 54.33%
1908 6,392 68.15% 2,264 24.14% 723 7.71%
1904 6,635 77.11% 1,592 18.50% 378 4.39%
1900 5,136 67.69% 2,235 29.45% 217 2.86%
1896 5,027 72.47% 1,777 25.62% 133 1.92%
1892 2,932 57.17% 1,964 38.29% 233 4.54%


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[]

  • 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.[21]
  • Thomas E. Wilson (1868-1958), businessman and founder of 'Wilson Sporting Goods', resident and buried in Lake County.

See also[]

  • IL-53 extension issue
  • List of school districts in Lake County, Illinois
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Lake County, Illinois



  1. ^ a b Bureau, US Census. "2020 Population and Housing State Data" (in EN-US). 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. 
  3. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. 
  4. ^ "Lake County Forest Preserves". 
  5. ^ "Restoration workdays". Lake County. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. 
  10. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  11. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. 
  12. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. 
  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. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". 
  16. ^ "Lake County News-Sun (Chicago, Il) 2006-Current [Online Resource"]. 
  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" (in en). 
  18. ^ "About Us" (in en-US). 
  19. ^ Gearty, Robert (2020-04-11). "Retired Illinois fire department captain dies from coronavirus complications: report" (in en-US). 
  20. ^ "Parents Accused of Murdering Missing Ill. Boy, 5, Whose Body Was Found Wrapped in Plastic" (in en-US). 
  21. ^ "Pete Wilson". 

General sources[]

  • 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[]

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