Waukegan is one of the oldest communities in Illinois, first visited by Pierre Marquette in 1673. The city started as a French trading post and Potawatomi Indian settlement known as “Little Fort.”
Little Fort became the County Seat of Government in 1841 due to its increasing population. From 1844, when the town had only 150 residents, to 1849 when the town was incorporated, the population had risen to 2,500.
Proud of the growth of their community and no longer wanting to be characterized as “little,” on March 31, 1849, the residents of Little Fort changed the name of their town to Waukegan, the Potawatomi word for “fort” or “trading post.”
Early settlers were initially attracted to Waukegan as a port city and shipped produce and grain from Lake and McHenry County farms to Chicago. The creation of the Illinois Parallel Railroad (now the Chicago & Northwestern) in 1855 stimulated interest in Waukegan as a manufacturing center. The town continued to grow and diversify, and Waukegan was incorporated as a city on February 23, 1859, with an area of 5.62 square miles.
Due to its strategic location on Lake Michigan, by the end of the 19th century, Waukegan harbor bustled with regional trade and economic activity.
Throughout the 20th century, Waukegan was home to large manufacturers and producers. As the century came to a close, many manufacturers moved elsewhere or closed their doors. Now, Waukegan has embarked on its exciting next phase of growth, with a bright future ahead in the 21st century!
The City of Waukegan is proud of its rich heritage and strives to maintain its physical legacy while looking toward its bright future. The Historic Preservation Commission is committed to honoring Waukegan’s past through the preservation of historic sites. When considering the redevelopment of the downtown and lakefront areas, city officials were careful to ensure the preservation of historic landmarks, such as the Genesee Theatre. In addition, residents of the City’s Historic District, those devoted to renovating and maintaining historic homes in the area, will soon find themselves only a short walk from the revitalized downtown entertainment and restaurant district!
|Copyright (c) 2006
Site developed by Summersault