Visited by Pere Marquette in 1673, is one of the oldest communities in Illinois. The city started as a French trading post and Potawatomi Indian settlement known as "Little Fort". In 1849, the town changed its name to Waukegan, the Potawatomi word for "trading post."

An early port city that shipped produce and grain from Lake and McHenry County farms to Chicago, the introduction of the Illinois Parallel Railroad (now the Chicago & Northwestern) in 1855 allowed Waukegan to become a manufacturing center. Home of the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, named after the town's most famous comedian. It also counts Ray Bradbury and Jerry Orbach among its famous citizens.

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