Lake County, Illinois
Lake County, IL Events Directory
About Lake County, IL
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 U.S. 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
 o Total 1,368 sq mi (3,543 km2)
 o Land 444 sq mi (1,150 km2)
 o Water 925 sq mi (2,396 km2), 67.6%
 o (2010) 703,462
 o Density 1,586/sq mi (612/km2)
Congressional districts 6th, 10th, 14th
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


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.[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

Major highways


2000 census age pyramid for Lake County

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]

Employment by occupation in Lake County

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:

Sites of interest

Amusement parks


Performing arts





Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


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
Lake County townships (clickable)


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 - although it did give a plurality to Franklin Pierce in 1852 - would turn rock-solid Republican for the next century. The only time between 1856 and 1960 it did not vote for the Republican Presidential nominee was 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 policies were sufficient to drive many traditional Republicans 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. Between 1968 and 1988, however, Lake County became powerfully Republican once more, with no Democrat cracking forty percent of the vote.

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 but by a slimmer margin in 2012, and Hillary Clinton won it handily in 2016.

Presidential Elections Results[14]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 36.2% 109,767 56.4% 171,095 7.5% 22,658
2012 45.1% 129,764 53.5% 153,757 1.4% 3,972
2008 39.5% 118,545 59.1% 177,242 1.4% 4,113
2004 50.5% 139,081 48.8% 134,352 0.7% 1,862
2000 50.0% 120,988 47.5% 115,058 2.5% 6,118
1996 45.5% 93,149 45.6% 93,315 8.9% 18,300
1992 44.2% 99,000 36.5% 81,693 19.3% 43,294
1988 63.5% 114,115 35.8% 64,327 0.7% 1,191
1984 68.4% 118,401 31.1% 53,947 0.5% 876
1980 58.5% 96,350 29.3% 48,287 12.3% 20,216
1976 60.3% 92,231 37.8% 57,741 1.9% 2,922
1972 65.8% 92,052 33.9% 47,416 0.3% 344
1968 56.6% 68,999 35.6% 43,409 7.8% 9,495
1964 48.4% 58,840 51.6% 62,785 0.0% 42
1960 59.0% 67,809 40.9% 46,941 0.1% 149
1956 67.3% 66,781 32.5% 32,279 0.1% 129
1952 62.8% 54,929 37.0% 32,353 0.2% 145
1948 63.3% 39,456 35.6% 22,192 1.2% 720
1944 58.2% 35,674 41.5% 25,453 0.3% 183
1940 60.3% 38,242 39.3% 24,965 0.4% 254
1936 51.3% 27,548 45.7% 24,524 3.0% 1,603
1932 50.9% 23,994 44.9% 21,139 4.2% 1,989
1928 67.7% 26,814 31.0% 12,252 1.3% 521
1924 75.5% 18,229 8.3% 2,008 16.2% 3,913
1920 82.3% 15,712 12.2% 2,321 5.6% 1,063
1916 67.0% 12,905 28.3% 5,447 4.8% 924
1912 21.6% 2,183 24.1% 2,436 54.3% 5,494
1908 68.2% 6,392 24.1% 2,264 7.7% 723
1904 77.1% 6,635 18.5% 1,592 4.4% 378
1900 67.7% 5,136 29.5% 2,235 2.9% 217
1896 72.5% 5,027 25.6% 1,777 1.9% 133
1892 57.2% 2,932 38.3% 1,964 4.5% 233

Notable people

See also


  • { 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

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

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