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Zion, Illinois
Zion-Benton Township High School
Motto: "Historic past, dynamic future"
Country United States
State Illinois
County Lake
Elevation 592 ft (180 m)
Coordinates 42°27′12″N 87°50′25″W / 42.45333°N 87.84028°W / 42.45333; -87.84028
Area 9.81 sq mi (25 km²)
 - land 9.81 sq mi (25 km²)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km²)
Population 24,413 (2010)
Density 2,489 /sq mi (961 /km²)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 60099
Area codes 847, 224

Zion is a city in Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 22,866 at the 2000 census, and had grown to 24,413 as of 2010. The city was founded in July 1901 by John Alexander Dowie. He also started the Zion Tabernacle of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, which was the only church in town. It was built in the early 1900s and burned down in 1937. The city was named after Mount Zion, Israel.


Zion is located at 42°27′12″N 87°50′25″W / 42.453221°N 87.840222°W / 42.453221; -87.840222.

According to the 2010 census, Zion has a total area of 9.813 square miles (25.42 km2), of which 9.81 square miles (25.41 km2) (or 99.97%) is land and 0.003 square miles (0.01 km2) (or 0.03%) is water.

The city is one of only a few in the world to have ever been completely planned out before building. Dowie modeled the city layout after the Union Flag, because he was originally from Scotland and Australia. In the planning stage he mailed the mayors of many large cities across the world for suggestions on how to design the best city possible. A few of the recommendations were:

  • Make provisions for alley ways for utilities and garbage removal, and help keep the city looking clean
  • Have the houses face east and west so that thermal heat from the sun could be used to reduce heating bills
  • Build as many parks as possible

Some of the diagonal roads were never completed. The north-south roads in the original plan are all named from the Bible except for two: "Caledonia" is the Roman word for Scotland, Dowie's native country, and Edina Boulevard which is named for an old Roman abbreviation for the city of Edinburgh, Dowie's birthplace. The original east-west roads are numbered starting with 1 at the state line (now called Russell Road), although there are now new east-west roads which bear names. The city used to extend all of the way down to the lakefront until the state bought it to preserve the beach. Because most of the houses on the lakefront were owned by wealthy citizens, most of them were moved to places around what is now Sheridan Road.

Map highlighting Zion Township, Lake County, Illinois
Location within Lake County

The former city seal was the subject of a Supreme Court case because it contained a religious symbol.

Major streets

  • Illinois 137.svg Sheridan Road
  • Illinois 173.svg 21st Street/Bethlehem Avenue
  • Illinois 131.svg Green Bay Road
  • Galilee Avenue
  • 9th Street
  • Shiloh Boulevard
  • 23rd Street
  • 29th Street
  • 33rd Street
  • Lewis Avenue
  • Wadsworth Road

Illinois Beach State Park

Zion is the closest municipality to South Beach within Illinois Beach State Park. The North Beach is in Winthrop Harbor. The beach was originally part of Camp Logan, a rifle range developed by the Illinois National Guard in 1892. In World War I and World War II it served as a rifle range for the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. The range remained in operation until 1973, when it was transferred to the Illinois Department of Conservation. In 1950, the Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established to maintain the natural qualities of the beach. With the help of the Illinois Department of Conservation the area south of Beach Road was established as the state's first natural preserve. The northern beach, between Beach Road and the Wisconsin state border, were obtained between 1971 and 1982.

The south beach is now home of the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center. The North Point Marina is at the north beach. This is Illinois' newest and largest marina.

On May 9, 2000, the area encompassing Illinois Beach State Park and North Point Marina was officially designated as the Cullerton Complex in honor of William J. Cullerton, Sr., war hero, avid environmentalist and long-time friend of conservation.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 4,789
1920 5,580 16.5%
1930 5,991 7.4%
1940 6,555 9.4%
1950 8,950 36.5%
1960 11,941 33.4%
1970 17,268 44.6%
1980 17,865 3.5%
1990 19,775 10.7%
2000 22,866 15.6%
2010 24,413 6.8%
Est. 2015 24,117 −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 24,508 people, 7,552 households, and 5,558 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,789.5 people per square mile (1,076.7/km²). There were 8,036 housing units at an average density of 980.3 per square mile (378.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 48.9% White, 31.10% African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 12% from other races, and 5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.7% of the population.

There were 7,552 households out of which 44.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 20.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 21.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.44.

In the city, the population was spread out with 33.2% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 17.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,723, and the median income for a family was $50,378. Males had a median income of $37,455 versus $27,563 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,730. About 10.1% of families and 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.


Zion Metra Station
Zion Metra Station

Zion is served by Metra's Union Pacific/North Line through Zion railway station at the east side of the city. It connects the city to Chicago, Kenosha, and intermediate communities. Pace bus line 571 provides internal transit service in Zion and connects the city to Waukegan.

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