Location within the U.S. state of Illinois
Illinois's location within the U.S.
|Founded||March 1, 1839|
|Named for||Lake Michigan|
|o Total||1,368 sq mi (3,540 km2)|
|o Land||444 sq mi (1,150 km2)|
|o Water||925 sq mi (2,400 km2) 67.6%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||1,586/sq mi (612/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||6th, 10th, 14th|
Lake County is a county situated in the northeastern corner of the U.S. state of Illinois along the shores of Lake Michigan. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 703,462, making it the third-most populous county in Illinois after nearby Cook and DuPage Counties. Its county seat is Waukegan, the ninth-largest city in Illinois. Lake County is one of the collar counties of the Chicago metropolitan area, located immediately to the north of Cook County.
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.
This section does not cite any sources. (April 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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 and the only one that has more water area than land area. Most of the water is in Lake Michigan.
Besides Lake Michigan, lakes in the county include:
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. 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.
As of the 2010 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:
The county is divided into eighteen townships.
|Lake County Board|
|9||Mary Ross Cunningham||Democratic|
|12||S. Michael Rummel||Republican|
|13||Sandy Hart, Chairman||Democratic|
|14||Angelo D. Kyle||Democratic|
|20||Adam R. Didech||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 - 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 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. 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 Bill Clinton actually won it with a plurality in 1996-the only time that Clinton won one of the collar counties 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 lower than that of any Republican Presidential nominee since 1912, likely due to its large college-educated, foreign-born, and minority populations.
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 $7,750,000.00. Mr. Hobbs was incarcerated for 66 months. This was the largest pre-trial detainee settlement in the United States.