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Lake Bluff, Illinois

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Lake Bluff, Illinois
The Village of Lake Bluff
Lake Bluff Village Hall
Lake Bluff Village Hall
Flag of Lake Bluff, Illinois
Official logo of Lake Bluff, Illinois
Location of Lake Bluff in Lake County, Illinois.
Location of Lake Bluff in Lake County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 42°17′N 87°51′W / 42.283°N 87.850°W / 42.283; -87.850
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedSeptember 21, 1895
 • BodyVillage Board
 • Village PresidentRegis Charlot[1]
 • Village4.09 sq mi (10.58 km2)
 • Land4.08 sq mi (10.56 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Lowest elevation
577 ft (176 m)
 • Village5,616
 • Density1,377.82/sq mi (531.97/km2)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area codesArea codes 847 and 224
FIPS code17-40910
Wikimedia CommonsLake Bluff, Illinois

Lake Bluff (formerly Rockland) is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States. Per the 2020 census, the population was 5,616.[3]


The first settler family to claim land within the area now part of Lake Bluff arrived in 1836. They claimed 100 acres of land extending from the lake west to the Green Bay Trail. In 1849, a few residents left to seek their fortune in the California gold rush. In 1837, William and Mary Dwyer claimed the land just north of the former Central School. They opened and operated a stage coach stop and tavern along the Green Bay Trail. Some of the other early settlers were Henry and Angeline Ostrander, James Cole and William Whitnell.

In 1855, the first railroad through Lake County was completed, running from Chicago through the county line. Henry Ostrander owned the land where the depot was to be placed, and he agreed to donate the site if the depot were called "Rockland." Therefore, this area, known previously as the Dwyer Settlement and Oak Hill, became Rockland, the only stop between Highland Park and Waukegan. Rockland had a post office and general store on Mawman Avenue with a small school and church located west of the tracks near Green Bay Road.

In 1875, a group of Methodist ministers led by Solomon Thatcher of River Forest purchased 100 acres of lakefront property from Ben Cloes, the youngest son of the first settlers. The Lake Bluff Camp Meeting Association was formed and Rockland was renamed "Lake Bluff." The Association planned a resort that would provide not only religious activities but also social, cultural, educational and recreational programs. From the beginning, the Camp Meeting was successful at bringing in well-known personalities of the time, such as Frances Willard and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes. Summer visitors were attracted to Lake Bluff to enjoy the beach and ravines and participate in the Camp Meeting activities. A 10-acre lake in the center of town, Artesian Lake, provided additional recreational opportunities. Lake Bluff was a summer colony at the time, as most residents were seasonal.

Land was divided into 25-foot lots on which a cottage "could be erected within 20 days of purchase for $250." The first hotel, the Bluff Lodge, was opened in 1876. By the mid 1880s there were more than 30 hotels and boarding houses and a large tabernacle with seating for more than 2,000 people.

Lake Bluff incorporated as a village in 1895. Charles Trusdell, the first Village President, built his home at 115 East Center Avenue. The East School opened in September 1895. In 1904, the railroad station was erected, and in 1905 the present Village Hall was built.

During the First World War, Lake Bluff was proclaimed the "most patriotic small town in America" for the efforts of the residents in supporting the Red Cross and purchasing an ambulance to send to France.

In the 1920s, Lake Bluff made plans to join the other North Shore suburbs in the race to attract new homes and growing families. New brick stores were added in the business block, and a large addition to East School was constructed. However, 1929 brought the Great Depression, and the plans for expansion never materialized.[4]


The main trail of Ravine Park

Lake Bluff is located in the North Shore area at 42°17′N 87°51′W / 42.283°N 87.850°W / 42.283; -87.850 (42.281, -87.849).[5]

A New Year's Day moonrise over Lake Michigan

According to the 2010 census, Lake Bluff has a total area of 4.057 square miles (10.51 km2), of which 4.05 square miles (10.49 km2) (or 99.83%) is land and 0.007 square miles (0.02 km2) (or 0.17%) is water.[6] It is bordered by Lake Michigan on the east, Naval Station Great Lakes to the north, Lake Forest to the south, and Libertyville to the west. The town is named for the prominent bluff overlooking Lake Michigan that extends across the eastern boundary.

Half of Lake Bluff's land area is residential in nature, while the rest is mainly devoted to parks and recreation.[7] Major parks include Blair Park, Ravine Park, Sunrise Park, and Artesian Park.[8]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
2010[10] 2020[11]

2020 census[edit]

Lake Bluff village, Illinois – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2010[10] Pop 2020[11] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 5,182 4,841 90.56% 86.20%
Black or African American alone (NH) 33 29 0.58% 0.52%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 6 2 0.10% 0.04%
Asian alone (NH) 317 314 5.54% 5.59%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 0 1 0.00% 0.02%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 3 29 0.05% 0.52%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 72 206 1.26% 3.67%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 109 194 1.90% 3.45%
Total 5,722 5,616 100.00% 100.00%

2010 Census[edit]

As of the 2010 US census, there were 5,722 people, 1,992 households, and 1,743 families residing in the village.[12] The population density was 1,492 inhabitants per square mile (576/km2). There were 2,178 housing units at an average density of 542.5 units per square mile (209.4/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 92.05% White, 0.58% African American, 0.10% Native American, 5.54% Asian, 1.29% Hispanic or Latino, 0% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races.[13]

As of 2010, there were 2,178 households, out of which 42.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 80.6% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 12.1% were non-families. 10.2% of all households were made up of individuals living alone, and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the village, 29.3% of the population was under the age of 18, 5.5% were from 18 to 24, 15.6% from 25 to 44, 27.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

The median household income was $114,521, and the median income for a family was $124,674. Males had a median income of $92,233 versus $50,352 for females. The per capita income for the village was $54,824. About 0.7% of families and 1.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.6% of those under the age of 18 and 0.0% ages 65 or older.



U.S. Route 41 passes through the western portion of the village, and directly west of Lake Bluff is Interstate 94, both highways providing access for commuters to Chicago or Milwaukee.

During the summer of 2010, a wild turkey began to inhabit the corner of Green Bay Road and Route 176, capturing the hearts of the local residents and inspiring a book called The Town Turkey.[14][15] The following year, another wild turkey was spotted on Route 176.[16]

Scranton Avenue runs through the central business district and functions as a "Main Street" of sorts. The local police station, fire department, and the Village Hall are located on East Center Avenue. Both roads run from the center of town to the lake.


Lake Bluff Metra Station

Until its bankruptcy in 1962, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee electric interurban railroad between Chicago's "Loop" and Milwaukee had a stop in Lake Bluff. As of 2018, the Union Pacific Railroad (formerly the Chicago & North Western Railway and later the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company)[17] still runs through Lake Bluff.[18] This line, part of Chicago's Metra commuter rail agency, provides access to Chicago through Ogilvie Station and to Kenosha, Wisconsin (but no longer to Racine and Milwaukee as did the Milwaukee Division of the "Northwestern" in earlier times).

Although not a passenger rail line, the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway "Outer Belt Line" also has trackage in Lake Bluff.


Lake Bluff East Elementary School, originally known as "Lake Bluff School", was the first school in Lake Bluff. In 1963, Lake Bluff West Elementary School was built for children living in west Lake Bluff (unincorporated Knollwood). In 1967, Lake Bluff Central Elementary School was constructed for students in north Lake Bluff. In the 1970s, West School was shut down, and held many other titles, and the whole system moved from geographic centers to grade/specific attendance centers. In April 2007, a referendum passed by only 22 votes to build a new school. In a land swap with the park district, District 65 acquired land adjacent to the old Central School and gave up land adjacent to the old West School. West School was sold in May 2007 for approximately 1 million dollars, which was also the minimum bid for the property. The new Lake Bluff Elementary School (grades K-5) opened on September 28, 2009. Additions and remodeling were also made to the Lake Bluff Middle School (grades 6-8). At the Middle School part of the original "Lake Bluff School" is now on display. East School held its final classes through September 2009. The cost of the new Lake Bluff Elementary School was approximately $20 million and is 82,000 square feet (7,600 m2). Lake Bluff Middle School was renovated in 2016[19] with two new classroom wings, a new library, cafeteria, and a Makerspace.

Public schools
Private school
  • Lake Bluff West Elementary School (closed in 1994, now serves as rental office space)
  • Lake Bluff Central Elementary School (closed and demolished in 2008)
  • Lake Bluff East Elementary School (closed in 2009, demolished in 2010)

Arts and culture[edit]

Every alternating year the Lake Bluff History Museum organizes a "Ghost Walk" around Halloween to celebrate their haunted history. This includes group tours of the town led by residents dressed as ghouls who tell stories about creepy occurrences in the past.[20]

Every year there are many cultural events on the Village Green including a Veterans Day flag raising ceremony, Gazebo lighting (Christmas), and a farmers' market every Friday in the summer.

Each year Lake Bluff organizes a notable parade on Independence Day sponsored by the Lake Bluff July 4 Committee with assistance from American Legion Post 510. The parade features many organizations and entertainers, including a performance by synchronized lawnmower, the local Boy Scout Troop, and various other associations from around the North Shore.[21]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Ray Bradbury's short story The Lake (1944) is set in Lake Bluff.
  • The 1978 film A Wedding was filmed in Lake Bluff, near the border between Lake Bluff and the Great Lakes Naval Facility.[22][23]
  • The 1980 film Ordinary People was filmed mostly in neighboring Lake Forest and nearby Fort Sheridan and Highland Park, although some scenes were filmed in Lake Bluff.
  • The 1998 film Kissing a Fool used Lake Bluff's bluff as a backdrop for the film's wedding scenes.
  • The 2001 film New Port South, written by James Hughes, son of Chicago-area filmmaker John Hughes, used Lake Bluff for its traditional suburban look.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "HOME - The Village of Lake Bluff". www.lakebluff.org.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  3. ^ "Lake Bluff village, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  4. ^ "About Lake Bluff". The Village of Lake Bluff. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  6. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "About Lake Bluff". The Village of Lake Bluff. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Community Parks". Lake Bluff Park District. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  9. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  10. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Lake Bluff village, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  11. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Lake Bluff village, Illinois". United States Census Bureau.
  12. ^ "Quick Facts Lake Bluff". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  14. ^ "Turkey Caught In Red Tape". Jwcdaily.com. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  15. ^ "The Town Turkey". Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  16. ^ "Turkey Sightings In Lake Bluff ... Again". Jwcdaily.com. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "Chicago & North Western Railway Co". Encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  18. ^ "Union Pacific North (UP-N) | Metra". Metrarail.com. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "Lake Bluff Middle School". Lb65.org. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  20. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  21. ^ "Lake Bluff 4th of July Celebration [Home]". Lb4july.org. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "A Wedding (1978)". IMDb.com. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  23. ^ "AFI|Catalog". Catalog.afi.com. Retrieved November 15, 2021.

External links[edit]