Main Births etc
Waukegan, Illinois
—  City  —
Downtown Waukegan Skyline
Nickname(s): WaukTown, Green Town
Motto: "An Illinois Arts-Friendly Community"
Coordinates: 42°22′21″N 87°51′41″W / 42.3725, -87.86139
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Lake
Founded 1829
Incorporated 1849 (town), 1859 (city)
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Mayor Wayne Motley (D)
 • Total 23.88 sq mi (61.8 km2)
 • Land 23.67 sq mi (61.3 km2)
 • Water 0.21 sq mi (0.5 km2)  0.88%
Elevation 669 ft (203.9 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 89,078
 • Rank 9th largest in Illinois[1]
 • Density 3,700/sq mi (1,400/km2)
Demonym Waukeganite
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)

Waukegan /wɔːˈkɡən/ is a city and the county seat of Lake County, Illinois, United States.[2] As of the 2012 census estimate, the city had a population of 94,267.[3] It is the ninth-largest city in Illinois by population. It is the fifth-largest city on the western shore of Lake Michigan, after Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Kenosha.


The site of present-day Waukegan was recorded as Riviere du Vieux Fort ("Old Fort River") and Wakaygagh on a 1778 map by Thomas Hutchins. By the 1820s, the French name had become "Small Fort River" in English, and the settlement was known as "Little Fort". The name "Waukegance" and then "Waukegan" (meaning "little fort"; cf. Potawatomi wakaigin "little fort") was created by John H. Kinzie and Solomon Juneau, and the new name was adopted in 1849.[4]


Waukegan is located at 42°22′21″N 87°51′41″W / 42.3725, -87.86139 (42.372471, −87.861521).[5] Waukegan is on the shore of Lake Michigan, about 8 miles (13 km) south of the border with Wisconsin and 40 miles (64 km) north of downtown Chicago, at an elevation of about 669 feet (204 m) above sea level.

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 23.88 square miles (61.8 km2), of which 23.67 square miles (61.3 km2) (or 99.12%) is land and 0.21 square miles (0.54 km2) (or 0.88%) is water.[6]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 3,433
1870 4,507 31.3%
1880 4,012 −11.0%
1890 4,915 22.5%
1900 9,426 91.8%
1910 16,069 70.5%
1920 19,226 19.6%
1930 33,499 74.2%
1940 34,241 2.2%
1950 46,698 36.4%
1960 61,784 32.3%
1970 65,134 5.4%
1980 67,653 3.9%
1990 69,392 2.6%
2000 89,426 28.9%
2010 89,078 −0.4%
Est. 2012 88,862 −0.6%

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 89,078 people residing in the city. 46.6% were White, 19.2% Black or African American, 4.3% Asian, 1.2% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 24.6% of some other race and 4.1% of two or more races. 53.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 5.3% were of German ancestry.[7]

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 87,901 people, 27,787 households, and 19,450 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,475.0/km² (3,819.8/mi²). There were 29,243 housing units at an average density of 490.7/km² (1,270.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 30.92% White, 19.21% African American, 0.54% Native American, 3.58% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 22.96% from other races, and 3.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 44.818% of the population.

There were 27,787 households out of which 40.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.68.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.2% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 103.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,335, and the median income for a family was $47,341. Males had a median income of $30,556 versus $25,632 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,368. About 10.7% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.1% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


Top employers[]

According to Waukegan's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[9] the top employers in the city were:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Lake County 2,000
2 Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 1,900
3 Cardinal Health 1,500
4 Vista Health System 1,350
5 Uline 1,200
6 Coleman Cable 1,000
7 Medline Industries 850
8 Illinois Department of Human Services 725
9 City of Waukegan 508
10 WMS Industries 500


The city has plans for redevelopment of the lakefront.[10] The lakefront and harbor plan calls for most industrial activity to be removed, except for the Midwest Generation power plant and North Shore wastewater treatment facilities. The existing industry would be replaced by residential and recreational space. The city also set up several tax increment financing zones which have been successful in attracting new developers. The first step in the revitalization effort, the opening of the Genesee Theatre, has been completed, many new restaurants have opened, buildings have been renovated, and the City of Waukegan has made substantial investments in the pedestrian areas and other infrastructure.

The city had an annual "Scoop the Loop" summer festival of cruising since 1998, which since 2010 became a monthly event during the summer. The current incarnation is known as "Scoop Unplugged".[11]


Popular events[]

  • ArtWauk

ArtWauk (ArtWalk) is an art event that happens every third Saturday of the month in Downtown Waukegan. ArtWauk features paintings, sculptures, films, dance, theatre, comedy, music, performance art, food, pedicabs, all in the Waukegan Arts District in Downtown Waukegan.

  • Chicago Latino Film Festival
  • Fiestas Patrias Parade and Festival

The Fiestas Patrias Parade and Festival in Downtown Waukegan highlights and celebrates the independence of the many Hispanic countries that are represented in Waukegan, including Mexico, Belize, Honduras, etc.

  • HolidayWAUK

HolidayWAUK (HolidayWalk) is Downtown Waukegan's holiday festival.

Popular tourist destinations[]

  • Downtown Waukegan
    Downtown Waukegan is the urban center of Lake County. Many restaurants, bars, shops, the Waukegan Public Library, the College of Lake County, the Lake County Courthouse (including the William D. Block Memorial Law Library), and much more call Downtown Waukegan their home.
  • Genesee Theatre
  • Lake County Sports Center
  • Waukegan History Museum

Superfund sites[]

Waukegan Harbor, with OMC (purple), WCP (red), and Johns-Manville (yellow) Superfund sites

Waukegan contains three Superfund sites of hazardous substances that are on the National Priorities List.

In 1975, PCBs were discovered in Waukegan Harbor sediments. Investigation revealed that during manufacturing activities at Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC), hydraulic fluids containing PCBs had been discharged through floor drains at the OMC plant, directly to Waukegan Harbor and into ditches discharging into Lake Michigan.[12] The OMC plants were subsequently added to the National Priorities List, and was designated as one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Cleanup of the site began in 1990, with OMC providing $20–25 million in funding. During the OMC cleanup, additional soil contaminants were found at the location of the former Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke company. Soil removal was completed at the Coke site in 2005, and cleanup of that soil will continue for several years.

The Johns Manville site is located one mile (1.6 km) north[13] of the OMC site. In 1988, asbestos contamination found in groundwater and air prompted listing on the National Priorities List and subsequent cleanup. In 1991, the soil cover of the asbestos was completed. However, additional asbestos contamination was found outside the Johns-Manville property which will require further cleanup.[14][15]

The Yeoman Creek Landfill[16] is a Superfund site located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of the Johns Manville site. The site operated as a landfill from 1959 to 1969. In 1970, it was discovered that the lack of a bottom liner in the landfill had allowed leachate to enter groundwater, contaminating the water with volatile organic compounds and PCBs, and releasing gases that presented an explosion hazard. All major cleanup construction activities were completed in 2005, and monitoring of local water and air continues.[17]

The book Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols gives an account of the effects of PCBs on Waukegan residents.

Notable people[]

Jack Benny[]

Waukegan is the hometown of comedian Jack Benny (1894–1974), one of the 20th century's most notable and enduring entertainers, but although he claimed for decades on his radio and television shows to have been born there, he was actually born at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. Benny's affection for the town in which he grew up can clearly be felt by this exchange with his co-star (and wife) Mary Livingstone during a conversation they had on The Jack Benny Program on Mother's Day of 1950 while they were discussing the itinerary for his summer tour that year:

Mary Livingstone: Aren't you going to bring your show to Waukegan?
Jack Benny: Mary, I was born in Waukegan — how can you follow that?!.

On a 1959 episode of the television game show What's My Line?, Benny quipped to host John Charles Daly

They say that I put Waukegan on the map. But it's not true. Waukegan really put me on the map. That's a fact.[18]

Nevertheless, Benny did put Waukegan on the map for millions of his listeners (and later viewers) over the years, and the community was proud of his success. A Waukegan middle school is named in his honor (which he said was the greatest thrill he had ever experienced[19]), and a statue of him, dedicated in 2002, stands in the downtown facing the Genesee Theater, which hosted the world premiere of his film Man about Town in 1939, with Jack, Mary, Dorothy Lamour, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Don Wilson and Rochester (Eddie Anderson) appearing onstage.

Jack Benny's family lived in several buildings in Waukegan during the time he was growing up there, but the house at 518 Clayton Street is the only one of them that still stands. It was designated a landmark by the city on April 17, 2006.[20]

Ray Bradbury[]

The science-fiction writer and romancier Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, and though he moved with his family to the west coast while still a child, many of his stories explicitly build on Waukegan (often called Green Town in his stories, such as Dandelion Wine) his formative years there.[21][22]


Waukegan is served by the Waukegan Public School District 60. It serves about 17,000 students in preschool through grade twelve. Waukegan has three early childhood schools, fifteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. The early childhood schools are EPIC Early Learning Center at 540 S. McAlister Street, EPIC North Shore at 326 Julian Street, and EPIC AOEC at 1020 Glen Rock Avenue. The elementary schools are Carman-Buckner Elementary School at 520 Helmholz Street, John S. Clark Elementary School at 601 Blanchard Road, Clearview Elementary School at 1700 Delaware Road, Andrew Cooke Magnet School at 522 Belvidere Road, Glen Flora Elementary School at 1110 Chestnut Street, Glenwood Elementary School at 2500 Northmoor Avenue, Greenwood Elementary School at 1919 North Avenue, Hyde Park Elementary School at 1525 Hyde Park Avenue, Little Fort Elementary School at 1775 Blanchard Road, Lyon Magnet School at 800 S. Elmwood Avenue, H. R. McCall Elementary School at 3215 McAree Road, North Elementary School at 410 Franklin Street, Oakdale Elementary School at 2230 McAree Road, Washington Elementary School at 110 S. Orchard Avenue, Whittier Elementary School at 901 N. Lewis Avenue. The middle schools are Robert Abbott Middle School at 1319 Washington Street, Jack Benny Middle School at 1401 Montesano Avenue, Thomas Jefferson Middle School at 600 S. Lewis Avenue, Miguel Juarez Middle School at 201 N. Butrick Street, and Daniel Webster Middle School at 930 New York Street. The high schools are Waukegan High School-Washington Campus at 1011 Washington Street, Waukegan High School-Brookside Campus at 2325 Brookside Avenue, and Alternative/Optional Education Center at 1020 Glen Rock Avenue.

Waukegan High School was established in 1870. It was split into two separate high schools in 1975, as the Waukegan West Raiders and Waukegan East Bulldogs. In 1990, the school's sports teams were combined, and the high school was combined in the fall of 1991. The school became the Bulldogs, but added an eye patch to commemorate the Raiders and school colors of purple, green, and gold. In the fall of 2000, the school created a separate 9th grade center to accommodate a larger school population.


Waukegan has a port district which operates the city harbor and regional airport.

  • Waukegan Harbor:
    • Marina provides services and facilities for recreational boaters.
    • Industrial port provides access for 90–100 large shipping vessels yearly. Companies with cargo facilities at the port currently include Gold Bond Building Products (capacity for 100,000 tons of gypsum), LaFarge Corp (12 cement silos), and St Mary's Cement Co (2 cement silos).[23][24][25]
  • Waukegan Regional Airport:
    • FAA certified for general aviation traffic
    • Has a U.S. Customs facility, allowing for direct international flights.
    • A wide range of VIPs arrive and depart from the airport in private airplanes. This includes the Dalai Lama and Dick Cheney.

The Lake County McClory recreational trail passes through Waukegan.

  • Provides a non-motor route spanning from Kenosha, Wisconsin, to the North Shore, along the right of way of the former Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad.

Metra provides service between Waukegan and downtown Chicago via the Union Pacific/North Line. Service runs daily from early morning to late evening. Pace provides public bus service throughout Waukegan and surrounding areas. Most buses run Monday thru Saturday with limited Sunday/Holiday service on two routes.

Waukegan has three licensed taxi companies. 303 Taxi, Metro Yellow&Checker Cabs and Speedy Taxi which operate under city ordinances.

Historical Sites[]

Artistic references[]

  • Ray Bradbury spent his childhood in Waukegan and used it as the basis for Green Town, the setting of three of his books: Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. In his essay "Just This Side of Byzantium" and poem "Byzantium, I come not from," Bradbury explains the relationship between Green Town and his memories of Waukegan.
  • Eleanor Taylor Bland is an author of crime fiction taking place in "Lincoln Prairie" an amalgam of Waukegan, North Chicago, and Zion.[26]
  • The character Johnny Blaze from the Marvel comic book Ghost Rider is described as having been born in Waukegan.[27]
  • Waukegan's Amstutz Expressway, locally known as the "Expressway to Nowhere", has been used as a shooting location for such films as Groundhog Day, The Ice Harvest, The Blues Brothers, Contagion and Batman Begins. The music video "In Love with a Thug" sung by Sharissa featuring R. Kelly was filmed in Waukegan predominantly on the corner of Water Street and Genesee Street.
  • In 2005 Ringo Starr and the Roundheads recorded a concert for an episode of Soundstage at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.
  • In their novel "Stardance", Spider & Jeanne Robinson refer to Waukegan as if it were a prototypical Earth location, as identified by gravity vs. free fall.
  • The hip-hop group Atmosphere namechecks the city in live performances of the song "You."
  • Tom Waits mentions Waukegan in the song "Gun Street Girl" from his album Raindogs (1985): "He left Waukegan at the slammin' of the door".

Twin towns and sister cities[]

Waukegan has one sister city:[28]

  • Japan Kiyotake, Miyazaki, in Japan


  1. ^ "All cities, towns, villages and unincorporated places in Illinois of more than 15,000 inhabitants.". Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Waukegan city, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ Callary, Edward. 2009. Place Names of Illinois. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, p. 368.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder"
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  9. ^ City of Waukegan AFR. (PDF).
  10. ^ Plans for redevelopment of the lakefront.
  11. ^ . 
  12. ^ "Waukegan Harbor River Area of Concern". US EPA. 
  13. ^ Coordinates of Johns Mannville site. (January 1, 1970).
  14. ^ "Johns-Manville Corp". EPA. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  15. ^ "Our spoiled shore". Chicago Sun-Times. July 25, 2007.,CST-NWS-asbes25.article. 
  16. ^ Yeoman Creek Landfill
  17. ^ ILD980500102, NPL Fact Sheet | Region 5 Superfund | US EPA
  18. ^ "Jack Benny—What's My Line (HQ Version)". June 21, 1959. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  19. ^ Wolters, Larry (October 23, 1961). "Jack Benny at Best on Waukegan Show". The Chicago Tribune. 
  20. ^ [1] The Waukegan Historical Society – Waukegan Landmarks. Accessed 4/16/2010
  21. ^
  22. ^ Keilman, John (June 7, 2012). "Waukegan's landscape, values never left Bradbury". Chicago Tribune. 
  23. ^ seriesmain_rpt. (PDF).
  24. ^ "Harbor cleanup moves forward". Chicago Tribune. August 8, 2007.,1,1032764.story?ctrack=1&cset=true. 
  25. ^ "Waukegan Harbor". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Ghost Rider.
  28. ^ "Sister Cities – Waukegan, Illinois, USA & Kiyotake-cho, Miyazaki-gun, Japan". City Of Waukegan, City Hall. 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Waukegan, Illinois. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.