The Circuit Court of Cook County, which is the largest unified court system in the world, disposing of over 6 million cases in 1990 alone, the Cook County Department of Corrections, which is the largest single-site jail in the nation, and the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, the first juvenile center in the nation and one of the largest in the nation, are solely the responsibility of Cook County government. The Cook County Law Library is the second largest county law library in the nation.
The Bureau of Health Services administers the county's public health services and is the second largest public health system in the nation. Three hospitals are part of this system: John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Provident Hospital, and Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County, along with over 30 outpatient clinics.
The Cook County Highway Department is responsible for the design and maintenance of over of roadways in the county. These thoroughfares are mostly composed of major and minor arterials, with a few local roads. Although the Highway Department was instrumental in designing many of the expressways in the county, today they are under the jurisdiction of the state.
The Forest Preserve District, organized in 1915, is a separate, independent taxing body, but the Cook County Board of Commissioners also acts as the Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners. The District is a belt of 68,000 acres (275 km²) of forest reservations surrounding the City of Chicago. The Brookfield Zoo (managed by the Chicago Zoological Society) and the Chicago Botanic Garden (managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society) are located in the forest preserves.
In the 1980s, Cook County was ground zero to an extensive FBI investigation named Operation Greylord. Ninety-two officials were indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, 8 policemen, 10 deputy sheriffs, 8 court officials, and 1 state legislator.
Cook County is the fifth largest employer in Chicago.
In March 2008, the Cook County Board increased sales tax one percent, increasing the county sales tax rate from 0.75% to 1.75%. This followed a recent quarter-cent increase in mass transit taxing coming into effect in April. In Chicago, the rate increased to 10.25 percent, the steepest of any major metropolitan area in America. In Evanston, sales tax reached 10 percent and Oak Lawn residents will pay 9.5 percent. On July 22, 2008, the Cook County board voted against Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica's proposal to repeal the tax increase.
|2004||70.25% 1,439,724||29.15% 597,405|
|2000||68.63% 1,280,547||28.65% 534,542|
|1996||66.79% 1,153,289||26.73% 461,557|
|1992||58.21% 1,249,533||28.20% 605,300|
|1988||55.77% 1,129,973||43.36% 878,582|
|1984||51.02% 1,112,641||48.40% 1,055,558|
|1980||51.99% 1,124,584||39.60% 856,574|
|1976||53.44% 1,180,814||44.69% 987,498|
|1972||46.01% 1,063,268||53.41% 1,234,307|
|1968||50.56% 1,181,316||41.11% 960,493|
|1964||63.18% 1,537,181||36.82% 895,718|
|1960||56.37% 1,378,343||43.33% 1,059,607|
In the late 1970s, a movement started which proposed a separation of six northwest suburban townships, Cook County's panhandle (Barrington, Hanover, Palatine, Wheeling, Schaumburg, and Elk Grove) from Cook to form Lincoln County, in honor of the former U.S. president and Illinois resident. It is likely that Arlington Heights would have been the county seat. This northwest suburban region of Cook is moderately conservative and has a population over 500,000. Local legislators, led by State Senator Dave Regnar, went so far as to propose it as official legislation in the Illinois House. The legislation died, however, before coming to a vote.
In 2004, Blue Island mayor Donald Peloquin tried to organize a coalition of fifty-five south and southwest suburban municipalities to form a new county, also proposing the name Lincoln County. The county would include everything south of Burbank, stretching as far west as Orland Park, as far east as Calumet City, and as far south as Matteson, covering an expansive area with a population of over one million residents. Peloquin cited that the south suburbs are often shunned by the city and blamed the Chicago-centric policies of Cook County government for failing to jumpstart the long-depressed local economy of the south suburban region. Pending sufficient interest from local communities, Peloquin planned a petition drive to place a question regarding the secession on the general election ballot.
Talk of secession amongst outlying communities have again heated up in mid-2008 in response to a highly controversial 1% sales tax hike which has pushed the sales tax rate in Chicago proper to 10.25%, and pushed the tax rates across the various other county communities up amongst the highest in the nation. Border towns in particular have been outraged, as without a captive tax base like Chicago, people can easily take their business across the county border (paying, for instance, 7% in Lake County instead of 10).
| Cook County |
Population by year
2006 - 5,288,655 |
2000 - 5,376,741
1990 - 5,105,067
1980 - 5,253,655
1970 - 5,492,369
1960 - 5,129,725
1950 - 4,508,792
1940 - 4,063,342
1930 - 3,982,123
1920 - 3,053,017
1910 - 2,405,233
1900 - 1,838,735
1890 - 1,191,922
1880 - 607,524
1870 - 349,966
1860 - 144,954
1850 - 43,385
1840 - 10,201
As of the 2000 Census, there were 5,376,741 people, 1,974,181 households, and 1,269,398 families residing in the county. The population density was 5,686 people per square mile (2,195/km²). There were 2,096,121 housing units at an average density of 2,216 per square mile (856/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 56.27% White, 26.14% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 4.84% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 9.88% from other races, and 2.53% from two or more races. 19.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 9.1% were of Polish, 8.1% German, 7.9% Irish and 5.7% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 17.63% reported speaking Spanish at home; 3.13% speak Polish
2005 Census estimates placed the non-Hispanic white population of Cook County at 45.4% of the total population of the county. Other racial groups were African-Americans at 26.4%, Latinos at 22.2% and Asians at 5.5%. 2006 estimates showed the non-Hispanic white percentage of the population at 44.7%.
According to the 2000 Census there were 1,974,181 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.7% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.38.
In the county the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,922, and the median income for a family was $53,784. Males had a median income of $40,690 versus $31,298 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,227. About 10.6% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.
7. Source: http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/3716.html