Lake County, Indiana
Former Lake County Courthouse
in Crown Point, Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Indiana's location in the U.S.
|Metro area||Chicago Metropolitan|
|Established||February 16, 1837|
|Named for||Lake Michigan|
|County seat||Crown Point|
|Largest city|| Hammond (population)|
Gary (total area)
|o Body||Board of Commissioners|
|o Commissioner||Kyle W. Allen, Sr. (D, 1st)|
|o Commissioner||Jerry J. Tippy (R, 2nd)|
|o Commissioner||Michael C. Repay (D, 3rd)|
|o County Council|
|o County||626.5 sq mi (1,623 km2)|
|o Land||498.9 sq mi (1,292 km2)|
|o Water||127.6 sq mi (330 km2)|
|o Metro||10,874 sq mi (28,160 km2)|
|Area rank||12th largest county in Indiana|
|o Region||2,726 sq mi (7,060 km2)|
|o Length||36 mi (58 km)|
|o Width||16 mi (26 km)|
|663 ft (202 m)|
- NE Winfield Twp
|801 ft (244 m)|
- at Lake Michigan
|585 ft (178 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Rank||2nd largest county in Indiana 131st largest county in U.S.|
|o Density||994/sq mi (384/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (Central)|
46303, 46307-08, 46311-12, 46319-25, 46327, 46341-42, 46355-56, 46373, 46375-77, 46394, 46401-11
|Indiana Senate districts||1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th|
|Indiana House of Representatives districts||1st, 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 19th|
|GNIS feature ID||0450495|
|State Routes|| |
|Waterways||Grand Calumet River|
|Amtrak stations||Dyer - Hammond-Whiting
|South Shore Line stations||Hammond - East Chicago|
Adam Benjamin Metro Center
Gary/Chicago Airport - Miller
|Public transit||East Chicago Transit|
Gary Public Transportation
Originally inhabited by Potawatomi tribes, Lake County was established on February 16, 1837. From 1832 to 1836 the area that was to become Lake County was part of La Porte County. From 1836 to 1837 it was part of Porter County. It was named for its location on Lake Michigan. The original county seat was Liverpool until Lake Court House, which later became Crown Point, was chosen in 1840. Lake County's population grew slowly before the 1850s, when the railroads arrived to link Chicago to the rest of the country, and enabled tens of thousands of settlers and immigrants to buy land. Small-scale industrialization began, but was primarily relegated to the northern coast of the county. The 1900 Census gives a population of 37,892 residents.
The arrival of Inland Steel Company to East Chicago in 1903 and U.S. Steel to Gary in 1906 jump-started the county's population explosion. Immigrants poured into the area from all over Central and Eastern Europe (supplemented by a small Mexican immigrant community) and from many regions of the United States, such as Appalachia and the South. By 1930, Lake County's population surpassed 260,000, with first- and second-generation Americans constituting a majority of the population. Like the rest of Indiana, the Ku Klux Klan gained a large following in the 1920s in response to changing demographics. While the steel industry reigned supreme, other industries also found the county to be an ideal location for cheap land and well-developed transportation networks, such as automobiles, oil, chemicals, consumer goods, food processing, and construction supply companies.
The Great Depression was devastating to Lake County, as it was to any other area that relied on heavy industry. The Depression, combined with industrial strife, changing demographics, and unionization, caused Lake County to become a stronghold of the Democratic Party; Lake County has supported the Democratic nominee for President in every election since 1932 (exceptions occurred in 1956 and 1972), and Indiana's 1st Congressional District has remained in the Democratic column in every election since 1930. World War II restored prosperity, as industry revived to support the war effort, and good economic times continued into the 1970s. More immigrants were attracted by the promise of middle-class industrial jobs, and in addition to refugees and immigrants from Europe, black Americans and Mexicans also arrived in even larger numbers than they had in the 1910-1930 period. As minority populations exploded in industrial cities like East Chicago and Gary, racial tensions surfaced once again, and white flight from the industrial cities took place, aided in large part by the construction of state and federal highways.
Lake County's population peaked at 546,000 in 1970. Severe industrial decline took place during the 1973-1991 period, brought on by foreign competition, new management philosophies that called for major workforce reductions, and productivity gains from technology. The decline was particularly intense in the steel industry: steel employment exceeded 60,000 in the 1960s, and declined progressively to just 18,000 by 2015. Lake County's population declined 13% to bottom out at 475,000 in 1990.
The industrial decline of the 1980s cast a long shadow over Lake County: the county did not regain the level of employment it had in 1980 until 1996, after which the employment level roughly flatlined. The county's economic output peaked in 1978, and has not since recovered, remaining 15-20% below the peak after adjusting for inflation. As prosperity declined, so did the immigration that powered the county's explosive population growth before 1950: per the 2000 census, only 5.3% of Lake County's residents were foreign-born, compared to over 11% for the United States as a whole.
The population recovered somewhat during the 1990s and 2000s, as the local economy adjusted. Suburban growth has also been driven by commuter populations of workers who are employed in Chicago and commute via expressways or the South Shore Line. In 2007, it was estimated that 44,000 workers commuted from Lake County, Indiana, to Chicago for work. The decline of industrial cities and growth of suburbs has been so sharp, that by 1990 a majority of the County's population lived outside of the four traditional industrial cities. Lake County still continues to struggle with urban decline and poverty, suburban sprawl and traffic jams, and a stagnating population.
According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 626.56 square miles (1,622.8 km2), of which 498.96 square miles (1,292.3 km2) (or 79.63%) is land and 127.60 square miles (330.5 km2) (or 20.37%) is water.
The northern and southern portions of the county (north of U.S. 30 and south of Lowell) are mainly low and flat, except for a few sand ridges and dunes and were both once very marshy and had to be drained. The lowest point, at 585 feet (178 m), is along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
The central part of the county is higher and hillier. As you travel south from the low and relatively flat lake plain in the northern part of the county, the land gradually rises in elevation until the peak of the Valparaiso Moraine. The highest point, at 801 feet (244 m), is in northeastern Winfield Township near 109th Street and North Lakeshore Drive in Lakes of the Four Seasons. From here the land descends south into the Kankakee Outwash Plain until the Kankakee River is reached.
Interstate 65 in Lake County is called the Casimir Pulaski Memorial Highway. Interstate 80/94/US 6 is the Frank Borman Expressway from the Illinois state line east to the Indiana Toll Road interchange in the eastern portion of the county. Interstate 94 has been referred to as the Chicago-Detroit Industrial Freeway. US 6 is part of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. Broadway (Indiana 53) is also the Carolyn Mosby Memorial Highway. Indiana 51 is known for its entire length as the Adam Benjamin Memorial Highway. US 30 is part of the historic Lincoln Highway. US 12 from Gary eastward is part of Dunes Highway. Cline Avenue (Indiana 912) from US 12 north and westward is known as the Highway Construction Workers Memorial Highway.
The municipalities in Lake County, and their populations as of the 2010 Census, are:
The 11 townships of Lake County, with their populations as of the 2010 Census, are:
Despite the decline of heavy industry, manufacturing was still the largest employment sector in Lake County in 2010 with over 45,000 workers employed, followed closely by healthcare and social assistance at 44,000 workers, public administration at 40,000 workers, retail trade at 37,000 workers, accommodation and food services at 25,000 workers, and construction at 15,000 workers.
Lake County's GDP in 2010 was measured at nearly $25 billion. Manufacturing was also the largest sector of the economy in economic terms, contributing over $5.8 billion to the county's GDP in 2010. It was followed by healthcare and social assistance at $2.6 billion, public administration at $2.5 billion, and retail trade at $1.9 billion. While Lake County's average income was approximately 24% higher than the national average in 1978, in 2010 Lake County had fallen significantly behind the United States as a whole, with average income being approximately 12.9% lower. The national average surpassed Lake County sometime around 1986.
Businesses with the largest number of employees in the county are: 
The administration of public schools in Lake County is divided among 16 corporations and governing bodies, more than any other Indiana county.
Elementary and secondary schools operated by the Diocese of Gary:
Other parochial and private schools:
The county is served by seven different public library systems:
The Times, based in Munster, is the largest daily newspaper in Lake County and Northwest Indiana and the second largest in the state. Lake County is also served by the Post-Tribune, a daily newspaper based in Merrillville.
These eight broadcast radio stations serve Lake County and are part of the Chicago market:
|Climate data for Lowell, Indiana (1981-2010 normals, extremes 1963-present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||66
|Average high °F (°C)||31.2
|Daily mean °F (°C)||22.8
|Average low °F (°C)||14.4
|Record low °F (°C)||-28
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.96
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||8.8
|Source: NOAA (normals, 1981-2010)|
In recent years, average temperatures in Lowell have ranged from a low of 14.4 °F (-9.8 °C) in January to a high of 83.8 °F (28.8 °C) in July, although a record low of -29 °F (-34 °C) was recorded in December 1989 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in June 1988. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.75 inches (44 mm) in February to 4.69 inches (119 mm) in June. Temperatures at or below 0 °F (-18 °C) occur on average 11 days annually and exceed 90 °F (32 °C) degrees on 14 days. In winter, lake-effect snow increases snowfall totals compared to the areas to the west. In spring and early summer, the immediate shoreline areas sometimes experience lake-breeze that can drop temperatures by several degrees compared to areas further inland. In summer, thunderstorms are common, occurring an average 40-50 days every year, and on about 13 days, these thunderstorms produce severe winds.
County Council: The county council is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all the spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected from county districts. The council members serve four-year terms. They are responsible for setting salaries, the annual budget, and special spending. The council also has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes, and service taxes.
Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county is made of a board of commissioners. The commissioners are elected county-wide, in staggered terms, and each serves a four-year term. One of the commissioners, typically the most senior, serves as president. The commissioners are charged with executing the acts legislated by the council, collecting revenue, and managing the day-to-day functions of the county government.
Court: The county maintains a small claims court that can handle some civil cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of four years and must be a member of the Indiana Bar Association. The judge is assisted by a constable who is also elected to a four-year term. In some cases, court decisions can be appealed to the state level circuit court.
County Officials: The county has several other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk Each of these elected officers serves a term of four years and oversees a different part of county government. Members elected to county government positions are required to declare party affiliations and to be residents of the county.
Lake County has long been a Democratic stronghold, giving pluralities or majorities to Democrats in every Presidential election since 1932 with the exceptions of 1956 and 1972.
Lake is part of Indiana's 1st congressional district, which is held by Democrat Pete Visclosky. In the State Senate, Lake is part of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th districts, which are held by three Democrats and one Republican. In the Indiana House of Representatives, Lake is part of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 19th districts, which are held by four Democrats and four Republicans.
In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary on May 6, 2008, Lake County was one of the last counties to report results. Lake County had reported no results at 11 p.m. ET, and at midnight ET, only 28% of Lake County's vote had been reported. A large number of absentee ballots and a record turnout delayed the tallies, and polls closed an hour later than much of the state because Lake County is in the Central Time Zone. Early returns showed Senator Barack Obama leading by a potentially lead-changing margin, leaving the race between Senator Hillary Clinton and Obama "too close to call" until final tallies were reported.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 496,005 people, 188,157 households, and 127,647 families residing in the county. The population density was 994.1 inhabitants per square mile (383.8/km2). There were 208,750 housing units at an average density of 418.4 per square mile (161.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 64.4% white, 25.9% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 5.8% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 16.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 16.1% were German, 11.1% were Irish, 9.6% were Polish, 5.4% were English, and 3.7% were American.
Of the 188,157 households, 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.2% were non-families, and 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.19. The median age was 37.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $58,931. Males had a median income of $50,137 versus $33,264 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,142. About 12.2% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.3% of those under age 18 and 8.4% of those age 65 or over.
|Place||Population (2010)||White||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|Cedar Lake, town||11,560||94.9%||0.5%||0.4%||4.2%||6.5%|
|Crown Point, city||27,317||88.2%||6.3%||1.8%||3.7%||8.1%|
|East Chicago, city||29,698||35.5%||42.9%||0.1%||21.5%||50.9%|
|Lake Dalecarlia, CDP||1,355||97.3%||0.2%||0.1%||2.4%||3.4%|
|Lake Station, city||12,572||79.7%||3.6%||0.3%||16.4%||28.0%|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP[note 2]||7,033||93.4%||1.2%||1.0%||4.4%||8.5%|
|New Chicago, town||2,035||81.0%||2.2%||0.7%||16.1%||27.4%|
|St. John, town||14,850||93.5%||1.3%||1.3%||3.9%||8.2%|
|Cedar Lake, town||11,560||$25,477||$59,090||$151,400|
|Crown Point, city||27,317||$31,454||$64,876||$174,900|
|East Chicago, city||29,698||$13,457||$27,171||$86,800|
|Lake Dalecarlia, CDP||1,355||$25,035||$52,321||$165,400|
|Lake Station, city||12,572||$16,953||$36,955||$82,400|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP[note 2]||7,033||$32,908||$84,242||$182,600|
|New Chicago, town||2,035||$18,083||$38,672||$97,700|
|St. John, town||14,850||$36,490||$97,868||$254,600|