Waukegan, Illinois facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Waukegan, Illinois
City
City of Waukegan
Downtown Waukegan Skyline
Downtown Waukegan Skyline
Nickname(s): WaukTown, Green Town
Motto: "An Illinois Arts-Friendly Community"
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Lake
Founded 1829
Incorporated 1849 (town), 1859 (city)
Area
 • 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 715 ft (218 m)
Population (2013)
 • Total 88,826
 • Rank 9th largest in Illinois
 • Density 3,719.7/sq mi (1,436.18/km2)
Demonym(s) Waukeganite
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
ZIP Codes 60079, 60085, 60087
Area code(s) 847 & 224
Website www.waukeganil.gov

Waukegan /wɔːˈkɡən/ is a city and the county seat of Lake County, Illinois, United States. It is part of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. As of the 2013 census estimate, the city had a population of 88,826. 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.

History

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.

Waukegan had an abolitionist community dating to these early days. In 1853, residents commemorated the anniversary of emancipation of slaves in the British Empire with a meeting. Waukegan arguably has the distinction of being the only place where Abraham Lincoln failed to finish a speech; when he campaigned in the town in 1860, a fire alarm rang, and the man soon-to-be president had his words interrupted.

Waukegan's development began in many ways with the arrival of Washburn & Moen, a barbed-wire manufacturer that prompted both labor migration and land speculation beginning in 1891. Immigrants followed, mostly hailing from southeastern Europe and Scandinavia, with especially large groups from Sweden, Finland, and Lithuania. The town also became home to a considerable Armenian population. One member of this community, Monoog Curezhin, even became embroiled in an aborted plot to assassinate Sultan Abdul Hamid II, reviled for his involvement in massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Curezhin lost two fingers on his right hand while testing explosives for this purpose in Waukegan in 1904.

By the 1920s and 1930s, African-Americans began to migrate to the city, mostly from the south. The town was no stranger to racial strife. In June 1920, an African-American boy allegedly hit the car of an off-duty sailor from nearby Great Lakes Naval Base with a rock, and hundreds of white sailors gathered at Sherman House, a hotel reserved for African-Americans. Although newspaper reports and rumors suggested that the officer's wife was hit with glass from the broken windshield, subsequent reports revealed that the officer was not even married. The sailors cried "lynch 'em," but were successfully kept back by the intervention of the police. Marines and sailors renewed their attack on the hotel several days later. The Sherman's residents fled for their lives as the military members carried torches, gasoline, and the American flag. The Waukegan police once again turned them away, but not before firing and wounding two members of the crowd. The police were not always so willing to protect Waukegan's citizens. The chief of police and the state's attorney in the 1920s, for example, were avowed members of the Ku Klux Klan, facts that came to light when a wrongfully convicted African-American war veteran was released from prison on appeal after 25 years. Labor unrest also occurred regularly. In 1919, a strike at the US Steel and Wire Company - which had acquired Washburn & Moen - led to a call for intervention from the state militia.

Noted organized crime figure Johnny Torrio served time in Waukegan's Lake County jail in 1925. He installed bulletproof covers on the windows of his cell at his own expense for fear of assassination attempts.

The city retained a distinct industrial character in contrast to many of the residential suburbs along Chicago's North Shore. The unequal distribution of wealth created by the disappearance of manufacturing from the city in part contributed to the Waukegan Riot of 1966. Central to this event and the remainder of Waukegan's 20th century history was Robert Sabonjian, who served as mayor for 24 years, and earned the nickname the "Mayor Daley of Waukegan" for his personal and sometimes controversial style of politics.

Geography

Waukegan is located at (42.3703140, -87.8711404). 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 715 feet (218 m) above sea level.

According to the 2010 census, Waukegan has a total area of 23.879 square miles (61.85 km2), of which 23.67 square miles (61.31 km2) (or 99.12%) is land and 0.209 square miles (0.54 km2) (or 0.88%) is water.

Demographics

Historical population
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. 2015 88,475 −0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 89,078 people residing in the city. 46.6% were White (21.7% non-Hispanic 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.

As of the census 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.

Revitalization

The city has plans for redevelopment of the lakefront. 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".

Tourism

Popular events

ArtWauk
  • 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
  • Ray Bradbury sites

Superfund sites

Waukegan harbor superfund
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. 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 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.

The Yeoman Creek Landfill 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.

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

Historical sites

See also: National Register of Historic Places listings in Lake County, Illinois
  • Bowen Park
  • Naval Station Great Lakes
  • Waukegan Building
  • Waukegan Public Library

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.
  • The character Johnny Blaze from the Marvel comic book Ghost Rider is described as having been born in Waukegan.
  • 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.
  • Waukegan is the city in which the new Disney channel series "I Didn't Do It (TV series)" is set.
  • 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 Rain Dogs (1985): "He left Waukegan at the slammin' of the door".
  • The band The Ike Reilly Assassination mentions Waukegan in the song "The Ex-Americans" from the album Sparkle In The Finish.

Twin towns and sister cities

Waukegan has one sister city:

  • Japan Kiyotake, Miyazaki, in Japan

Although there is no official sister city relationship, Waukegan is home to approximately 6,000 people from Tonatico, Mexico, according to a February 2017 article in the Washington Post. This has created ongoing ties between the two cities.



Waukegan, Illinois Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.