Lake Forest is a city known for its affluence, located in Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 20,059 at the 2000 census. The city is south of Waukegan, Illinois, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area and the affluent North Shore.
Lake Forest was founded around its college and laid out as a town in 1857 as a stop for travelers making their way south to Chicago. The headquarters of Tenneco, Brunswick, W.W. Grainger, Inc., and Hospira (all Fortune 500 companies) are in Lake Forest, and BFG Technologies is located in unincorporated Lake County, near Lake Forest. The Chicago Bears training facility and headquarters, Halas Hall, opened in 1997 in west Lake Forest, and the Chicago Fire now train at the Bears' previous facility located on the campus of Lake Forest College. Robert Redford filmed Ordinary People, the story of a Lake Forest family, on location in 1980, and the movie went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Actor Vince Vaughn graduated from Lake Forest High School, as did author Dave Eggers and musician Andrew Bird.
The Montessori School of Lake Forest and Forest Bluff School (in Lake Bluff) both serve ages two through 14, and are both accredited by AMI (Association Montessori Internationale); the latter is nationally known from the writings of founder and former head Paula Polk Lillard, and is often cited as one of the leading Montessori schools in America.
Lake Forest Academy, a boarding and day school on the west side of Lake Forest, is considered to be one of the best college preparatory and boarding schools in the Midwest, and attracts students from across the country and around the world. Lake Forest Country Day School was recently lauded by Chicago Magazine for its use of technology in the classroom. East Lake Academy and the School of St. Mary are the two private, Catholic schools located in Lake Forest: East Lake Academy is a newer elementary school started in 2001, and the School of St. Mary was established in 1917 and is a Catholic institution in Lake Forest.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.9 square miles (43.8 km²), of which, 16.9 square miles (43.7 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.30%) is water.
As Lake Forest was first developed, the planners laid roads that would provide very limited access to the city in an effort to prevent outside traffic and further isolate the tranquil settlement from neighboring areas. Though considerably more accessible today, due in part to the extensive new construction taking place further West, the much smaller neighborhood of East Lake Forest, near the coast of Lake Michigan, remains relatively secluded and is among the most scenic, historical, and architecturally significant suburbs of Chicago. These neighborhoods include estates made by distinguished architects like Howard Van Doren Shaw.
In 1967 a group of 12 long-time residents of Lake Forest formed a land conservation organization, Lake Forest Open Lands Association. Its express purpose was to purchase or otherwise set aside the rapidly disappearing open spaces in the city, in the interests of preserving animal habitat, restoring ecosystems, and providing environmental education for the city's children. In the next 38 years, the group managed to acquire over within the city limits, which now form six nature preserves with of walking trails open to the public. Preserved in perpetuity are wetlands, original pre-1830 prairie, woodland and savanna, all within the city.
Lake Forest has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of its commitment to community forest. As of 2006, Lake Forest has received this national honor for twenty-six years.
Commercial development in Lake Forest is focused in three areas, two of which have public railway stations. The central business district includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Union Pacific/North Line and extends beyond Market Square, providing a mixture of retail, banking, and professional services, as well as restaurants. The business district to the west includes a Metra commuter railroad station on the Milwaukee District/North Line and extends beyond Settlers' Square to provide a mixture of retail, banking and professional services, as well as restaurants. A third area of business development, consisting mostly of corporate and office space, extends along the city's northwestern border with the Tri-State Tollway.
Lake Forest is notorious for its strong stance against commercial development. High property taxes have driven out many businesses, especially car dealerships, to neighboring Lake Bluff. Most notably, Lake Forest Sportscars, one of the only Ferarri dealerships in Illinois, moved from downtown to its current location on Waukegan Road in Lake Bluff, just across the street from Lake Forest. The McDonald's in West Lake Forest was approved only after significant appearance changes, giving it a "barn-like" appearance. There were plans for a Costco to be built on Illinois Route 60, near the Tri-State Tollway in 2005. However, these plans were canceled due to opposition from the city government, local citizens, and the Chicago Bears.
There were 6,687 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.6% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.3% were non-families. 18.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 19.7% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $136,462, and the median income for a family was $165,512. Males had a median income of $100,000+ versus $44,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $77,092. About .15% of families and .2% of the population were below the poverty line.