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Skokie, Illinois

Skokie, Illinois
Location in Cook County and the state of Illinois.
Location in Cook County and the state of Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Country  United States
State Illinois
County Cook
Township Niles
Incorporated 1888
 • Type Council-manager
 • Mayor George Van Dusen
 • Total 10.06 sq mi (26.1 km2)
 • Land 10.06 sq mi (26.1 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.0 km2)  0%
Population (2010)
 • Total 64,784
 • Density 6,400/sq mi (2,500/km2)
  Up 2.27% from 2000
Standard of living (2011)
 • Per capita income $29,398
 • Median home value $280,900
ZIP code(s) 60076, 60077, 60203
Area code(s) 847 & 224
Geocode 70122
Website .orgskokie
Demographics (2010)[1]
White Black Asian
60.3% 7.3% 25.5%
Islander Native Other Hispanic
(any race)
0.02% 0.2% 6.7% 8.8%

Skokie (; formerly Niles Center) is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Its name comes from a Potawatomi word for "marsh".[2] A Chicago suburb, for many years Skokie promoted itself as "The World's Largest Village".[3] Its population, according to the 2010 census, was 64,784. Sharing a border with the city of Chicago, Skokie's streets, like that of many suburbs, are largely a continuation of the Chicago street grid, and it is served by the Chicago Transit Authority, further cementing its connection to the city.

Skokie was originally a German-Luxembourger farming community, but was later settled by a sizeable Jewish population, especially after World War II. At its peak in the mid-1960s, 58% of the population was Jewish, the largest percent of any Chicago suburb. In recent years, however, Skokie's population has become significantly more diverse, and several synagogues and Jewish schools have closed. However, Skokie still has a very large Jewish population. It is home to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in northwest Skokie in 2009.

Skokie has received national attention twice for court cases decided by the United States Supreme Court. In the mid-1970s, Skokie was at the center of a case concerning the First Amendment right to assemble and the National Socialist Party of America, a neo-Nazi group. Skokie ultimately lost that case. In 2001, although Skokie was not a direct party to the case, a decision by the village regarding land use led the court to reduce the power of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In October 2013, Skokie was rated #71 on America's top 100 places to live on the website.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Beginnings 2.1
    • Name 2.2
    • Supreme Court rulings 2.3
      • NSPA controversy 2.3.1
      • Migratory bird rule 2.3.2
  • Parks, recreation and attractions 3
    • Library 3.1
  • Economy 4
    • Top employers 4.1
  • Demographics 5
  • Public transportation 6
  • Cultural connections 7
    • Literature connections 7.1
    • Film connections 7.2
  • Schools 8
    • Public schools 8.1
      • High schools 8.1.1
      • Junior high schools 8.1.2
      • Elementary schools 8.1.3
    • Religiously affiliated schools 8.2
      • Jewish day schools 8.2.1
      • Catholic elementary schools 8.2.2
      • Protestant schools 8.2.3
      • Assyrian schools 8.2.4
    • Other private schools 8.3
    • Post-secondary education 8.4
  • Notable corporations 9
  • Notable people 10
  • References 11
    • Notes 11.1
    • Bibliography 11.2
  • External links 12


According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 10.06 square miles (26.1 km2), all land.[4] The village is bordered by Evanston to the east, Chicago to the southeast and southwest, Lincolnwood to the south, Niles to the southwest, Morton Grove to the west, Glenview to the northwest, and Wilmette to the north.

The village's street circulation is a standard street-grid pattern, with major east-west thoroughfare every half-mile: Old Orchard Road, Golf Road, Church Street, Dempster Street, Main Street, Oakton Street, Howard Street, and Touhy Avenue. The major north-south thoroughfares are Skokie Boulevard, Crawford Avenue, and McCormick Boulevard; the major diagonal streets are Lincoln Avenue, Niles Center Road, East Prairie Road and Gross Point Road.

Skokie's north-south streets continue the street names and (house number) grid values of Chicago's north-south streets – with the notable exceptions of Cicero Avenue, which is renamed Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, and Chicago's Pulaski Road retains its original Chicago City name, Crawford Avenue. The east-west streets continue Evanston's street names, but with Chicago grid values, such that, Evanston's Dempster Street is 8800 north, in Skokie addresses.

In 2015 Skokie was re-incorporated as a city.



A 1925 "Chicago"-style bungalow in Skokie

In 1888, the community was incorporated as Niles Centre. About 1910, the spelling was Americanized to "Niles Center". However, the name caused postal confusion with the neighboring village of Niles. A village-renaming campaign began in the 1930s. In a referendum on November 15, 1940, residents chose the Indian name "Skokie" over the name "Devonshire".

During the real estate boom of the 1920s, large parcels were subdivided; many two- and three-flat apartment buildings were built, with the "Chicago"-style bungalow a dominant architectural specimen. Large-scale development ended as a result of the Great Crash of 1929 and consequent Great Depression. It was not until the 1940s and the 1950s, when parents of the baby boom generation moved their families out of Chicago, that Skokie's housing development began again. Consequently, the village developed commercially, an example being the Old Orchard Shopping Center, currently named Westfield Old Orchard.

During the night of November 27–28, 1934, after a gunfight in nearby Barrington that left two FBI agents dead, two accomplices of notorious 25-year-old bank-robber Baby Face Nelson (Lester Gillis) dumped his bullet-riddled body in a ditch along Niles Center Road adjoining the St. Peter Catholic Cemetery,[5] a block north of Oakton Avenue in the town.[6]

The first African-American family to move to Skokie arrived in 1961, and open-housing activists helped to integrate the suburb subsequently.[7]


The name of the town was changed from "Niles Center" to "Skokie" by referendum in 1940. "Skokie" had previously been used as the name for the marshland on which much of the town was built; the term "Skokie marsh" was being used by local botanists, notably Henry Chandler Cowles, as early as 1901.[8] Maps long named the Skokie marsh as Chewab Skokie, a probable derivation from Kitchi-wap choku, a Potawatomi term meaning "great marsh".

Virgil Vogel's Indian Place Names in Illinois (Illinois State Historical Society, 1963) records the name Skokie as deriving

directly from skoutay or scoti and variant Algonquian words for fire. The reference is to the fact that marshy grasslands, such as occurred in the Skokie region, were burned by the Indians to flush out the game.

In Native Placenames of the United States (U. of Oklahoma Pr, 2004), William Bright lists Vogel's Potawatomi derivation first, but adds reference to the Ojibwa term miishkooki ("marsh") recorded in the Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary (Mouton, 1985), by Richard A. Rhodes.

The 1940 change of name may also have been influenced by James Foster Porter, a Chicago native, who had explored the "Skoki Valley" in Banff National Park in Canada in 1911 and became captivated by the name. Porter supported the name "Skokie" in the referendum when he returned to America.[9]

Supreme Court rulings

Twice in its history, Skokie has been the focal point of cases before the United States Supreme Court. National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977), involved a First Amendment issue. Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001) touched upon the Commerce Clause.

NSPA controversy

In 1977 and 1978, Illinois Nazis of the National Socialist Party of America (derived from the American Nazi Party) attempted to demonstrate their political existence with a march in Skokie, far from their headquarters on Chicago's south side. Originally, the NSPA had planned a political rally in Marquette Park in Chicago; however the Chicago authorities thwarted these plans, first, by requiring the NSPA post an onerous public-safety-insurance bond, then, by banning all political demonstrations in Marquette Park.

Seeking another free-speech political venue, the NSPA chose to march on Skokie. Given the many Holocaust survivors living in Skokie, the village's government thought the Nazi march would be politically provocative and socially disruptive, and refused the NSPA its permission. In the event, the American Civil Liberties Union interceded in behalf of the NSPA, in the case of the National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, wherein an Illinois appeals court raised the injunction issued by a Cook County Circuit Court judge, ruling that the presence of the swastika, the Nazi emblem, would constitute deliberate provocation of the people of Skokie. However, the Court also ruled that Skokie's attorneys had failed to prove that either the Nazi uniform or their printed materials, which it was alleged that the Nazis intended to distribute, would incite violence.[10]

Moreover, because Chicago subsequently lifted its Marquette Park political demonstration ban, the NSPA ultimately held its rally in Chicago. In 1980, the attempted Illinois Nazi march on Skokie was parodied in the film The Blues Brothers and later dramatised in the television movie, Skokie in 1981.

Migratory bird rule

In 2001, Skokie's decision to use an isolated wetland as a solid waste disposal site resulted in a lawsuit. Ultimately, the case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and resulted in an overturn of the federal migratory bird rule. See Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook Cty. v. Army Corps of Engineers for more information.

Parks, recreation and attractions

North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie – view from the east

The Skokie Park District maintains public spaces and historical sites within its more than 240 acres (0.97 km2) of parkland and in its ten facilities. The district is a recent winner of the national "Gold Medal for Excellence" in parks and recreation management. Every May since 1991, the park district hosts the Skokie Festival of Cultures to celebrate the village's diverse ethnic composition.

Westfield Old Orchard, an upscale shopping center, is one of the country's first and is the third largest mall by total square footage in Illinois.

Skokie has a sculpture garden that is situated between Dempster Street and Touhy Avenue on the east side of McCormick Boulevard. It was started in 1988 and now has over 70 sculptures. Three areas are toured in May through October of each year, on the last Sunday of the month with a presentation by a docent.[11] Just north of the sculpture garden is a statue to Mahatma Gandhi with five of his famous quotations engraved around the base. This was dedicated on October 2, 2004.[12]

In addition to municipally-managed public spaces, the village is also home to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, encompassing Centre East, Northlight Theatre and the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra. The facility celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center opened in Skokie on April 19, 2009.[13]


On October 7, 2008, the Skokie Public Library received the 2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from First Lady Laura Bush in a ceremony at the White House.[14] The National Medal is awarded annually by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums, to five libraries and five museums. The library's cultural programming and multilingual services were cited in the award presentation. Skokie Public Library is the first public library in Illinois to be awarded the medal.[15]

Additionally, the Skokie Library also offers a bookmobile service that provides a mini-library around the community.[16]


The village's AAA bond rating attests to strong economic health via prudent fiscal management. In 2003, Skokie became the first municipality in the United States to achieve nationally-accredited police, fire, and public works departments, and a Class-1 fire department, per the Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings. Likewise, in 2003 Money magazine named Skokie one of the 80 fastest-growing suburbs in the U.S.

Besides strong manufacturing and retail commerce bases, Skokie's economy will add health sciences jobs; in 2003, Forest City Enterprises announced their re-development of the vacant Pfizer research laboratories, in downtown Skokie, as the Illinois Science + Technology Park, a 23-acre (93,000 m2) campus of research installations (2-million ft.² [180,000 m²] of chemistry, genomics, toxicology laboratories, clean rooms, NMR suites, conference rooms, etc.). In 2006, NorthShore University HealthSystem announced installing their consolidated data center operations at the park, adding 500 jobs to the economy. Map maker Rand McNally, private label cooperative Topco and online grocer Peapod are also headquartered in Skokie.

Top employers

According to the Village's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[17] the top employers in the village are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Pfizer 2,127
2 Skokie Hospital 1,500
3 Woodward-MPC Airframe Systems 1,200
4 NorthShore University HealthSystem 700
5 Anixter 665
6 Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County 513
7 Continental Electrical Construction 500
8 Village of Skokie 490
9 Forsythe Technology 350
10 Topco 350


Per the census[20] of 2000, the Village of Skokie was composed of 63,348 people who formed in 23,223 households containing 17,045 families. The village's population density was 6,308.70 people per square mile (2,436.1/km²) living in 23,702 housing units (average population density: 2,360.4/square mile [911.5/km²]). The village's racial composition was: 65.6% White, 4.51% African American, 0.17% Native American, 21.28% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.86% from other races, 3.23% from two or more races. The Hispanic and Latino population, of any race, made up 5.71% of the village.

The 23,223 households comprise: 32.2% with minority-age children (younger than 18 years), 60.5% were cohabiting married couples, 9.9% of households were headed by a woman (with no husband present), and 26.6% were non-family cohabitants, 23.6% were single-person households, and 13.6% included an elder person (65 years of age or older). The average Skokie household size was 2.68 persons, and the average household family size was 3.20 persons.

Chronologically, Skokie's age population comprises: 23.0% of minority age (younger than 18 years); 7.0% aged from 18 to 24 years; 25.0% aged from 25 to 44, 25.5% aged from 45 to 64, and 19.6% aged 65 years and older. The median Villager's age is 42 years; for every 100 women younger than 18 years, there were 90.1 men; for every 100 women age 18 and older, there were 85.2 men.

Financially, Skokie's median household income was $57,375; the median family income was $68,253; a man's median income was $44,869; a woman's median income was $33,051. The per capita income is $27,136; 4.2% of families and 5.4% of the population are below the poverty line income, including 5.9% of children under 18 and 5.3% of elders aged 65 years and older.

As of the 2010 US Census, Skokie had a total of 64,784 people within its boundaries. The village's racial composition was 60.27% White, 7.26% African American, 0.19% Native American, 25.54% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.08% some other race, and 3.65% of mixed race. Hispanic and Latinos, of any race, made up 8.84% of the total population. There is a large Jewish population in Skokie and many of the surrounding areas.

Public transportation

The Chicago Transit Authority's Yellow Line terminates at the Dempster Street station in Skokie. Construction has been completed on a new Yellow Line train station at Oakton Street, to serve downtown Skokie and environs. It opened April 30, 2012.[21] Additionally, the CTA is commissioning an Alternative Analysis Study on the extension of the Yellow Line terminal to Old Orchard Road for Federal Transit Administration New Start grants.[22] The New Starts program allows federal funds to be used for capital projects provided all solutions for a given problem (i.e., enabling easy transportation for reverse commuters to Old Orchard Mall) is considered. The solution recommended by the CTA is the elevation of the Yellow Line north of Searle Parkway to a rebuilt Dempster Street station, then following abandoned Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the east side of the Edens Expressway to a new terminal south of Old Orchard Road. Currently this solution needs to undergo public commenting as well as FTA and CTA board approval to continue.[23]

Although the Yellow Line is the fastest transportation to and from the city, the village also is served by CTA and Pace bus routes. However, Greyhound Bus service to the Dempster Street train station has been discontinued. For automobile transport, Interstate 94, the Edens Expressway, traverses western Skokie, with interchanges at Touhy Avenue, Dempster Street, and Old Orchard Road.

Cultural connections

Literature connections

  • In K. A. Applegate's Everworld fantasy series, one of the main characters (Jalil) works in the Boston Market store in Skokie.
  • In Pete Hautman's Mr. Was non-fiction novel, Jack Lund's family is from Skokie, Illinois[24]

Film connections

  • In The Usual Suspects, Roger "Verbal" Kint claims to have been a member of a barbershop quartet in Skokie.


Public schools

A portion of the city is served by the Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

High schools

  • Niles North of District 219
  • Niles West of District 219
  • Niles East of District 219 (closed and building razed)[Niles East Bldg hasn't been razed. It's now used as part of Oakton Community College.]
  • Evanston Township High School of District 202 (only serves students who live on the border of Skokie and Evanston east of Crawford, south of Golf and north of Greenleaf St. in zipcode 60203 and a small part of zipcode 60076)
  • Niles Township District 219, known for its fine arts program, was awarded the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Top program for fine arts education in the United States on April 27, 2007.

Junior high schools

  • Oliver McCracken Middle School, (formerly Oakview Junior High) of District 73.5
  • East Prairie Middle School, (Pre-K through 8th) of District 73
  • Fairview South School of District 72
  • Lincoln Junior High of District 69
  • Old Orchard Junior High of District 68
  • Chute Middle School of Skokie/Evanston District 65

Elementary schools

See the same map as middle schools.

  • Jane Stenson School, (K through 5th) of District 68
  • Devonshire School, (K through 5th) of District 68
  • Highland School, (K through 5th) of District 68
  • Sharp Corner School, (K through 8th), formerly Sharp Corners School of District 68, located at 9301 Gross Point Road. Closed and renamed Solomon Schecter Day School)
  • Madison School, (pre-K through 2nd) of District 69
  • Edison School, (3rd through 5th) of District 69
  • Fairview North formerly of District 72
  • Fairview South School, (K through 8th) of District 72
  • Cleveland School, (K through 6th) of District 73.5 (school closed and building razed)
  • Elizabeth Meyer School, (pre-K and K) of District 73.5
  • John Middleton School, (1st through 5th) of District 73.5
  • East Prairie School, (Pre-K through 8th) of District 73
  • Walker Elementary School, (K through 5th, located in Skokie) of Skokie/Evanston District 65
  • Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School, (K through 8th, located in Skokie) of Skokie/Evanston District 65, formerly Timber Ridge Magnet School (may be attended by Skokie students in District 65)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Laboratory School, (K through 8th magnet school, located in Evanston) of Skokie/Evanston District 65 (may be attended by Skokie students in District 65)

Religiously affiliated schools

Jewish day schools

  • Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, (pre-K through 8th) Orthodox Judaism
  • Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School, (pre-K through 8th) Orthodox Judaism, separate boys and girls programs
  • Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School, (pre-K through 8th) Orthodox Judaism
  • Skokie Solomon Schechter Day School, (K through 5th) Conservative Judaism (now closed)
  • Fasman Yeshiva High School, (9th through 12th) Orthodox Judaism, boys only

Catholic elementary schools

  • Saint Peter School, Downtown Skokie (closed down in 2015 due to low enrollment)
  • Saint Joan of Arc School, northeast Skokie
  • Saint Lambert School, east central Skokie (closed down in 2003 due to low enrollment)

Protestant schools

  • Saint Paul Lutheran School (Preschool,K-8th)

Assyrian schools

  • Assyrian National Council of Illinois (Saturday Pre-k through 12th grade) Assyrian, mixed boy/girl programs

Other private schools

Originally the Chicago Futabakai Japanese School, which opened in 1978, was in Skokie.[25]

Post-secondary education

  • Oakton Community College (Ray Hartstein Campus) This is the site of the old Niles East High School. The original structure, built in the 1930s, was demolished in the 1990s.
  • Hebrew Theological College, a private university. It was chartered in 1922 as one of the first Modern Orthodox Jewish institutions of higher education in America.
  • National-Louis University has a campus near the Skokie Courthouse and is a high-ranking school for education.
  • European Massage Therapy School has a campus inside the Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center.
  • Estelle Institute, a private post-secondary skin care school, is located just north of the Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center.

Notable corporations

Notable people



  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Skokie village, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Chicago. First Books. 2004. p. 73.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  5. ^ St. Peter Catholic Cemetery, 8115 Niles Center Rd., Skokie 60077
  6. ^ "Trace Outlaw Nelson on Death Ride." Chicago Tribune. November 29, 1934. p. 1
  7. ^ Yackley, Sel (30 April 1967). "Integration Eases into Highland Pk.". Chicago Tribune. 
  8. ^ Henry Chandler Cowles (1901). The Plant Societies of Chicago and Vicinity. p. 68. 
  9. ^ Barnes, Christine (1999). Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies. Bend, Oregon: W.W. West. p. 130.  
  10. ^ Dubey, Diane (1977-07-14). "No swastikas allowed : Lift march injunction". The Skokie Life. 
  11. ^ Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ "Illinois Holocaust Museum Opens in Skokie: Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel Address Crowd of Thousands". The Huffington Post. 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  14. ^
  15. ^,sk-libhonor-100908-s1.article
  16. ^
  17. ^ Village of Skokie CAFR
  18. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  20. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  21. ^ "Oakton-Skokie Yellow Line Station Opens". Chicago Transit Authority. April 30, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Yellow Line Extension Alternatives Analysis Study". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  23. ^ "Yellow Screen 2 Presentation April 30, 2009 (text)". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  24. ^ Hautman, Pete. "Teacher's Guide: Mr. Was". Pete Hautman. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  25. ^ Burgos, Frank. "School helps kids remain Japanese Tokyo classrooms in Niles." Chicago Sun-Times. June 14, 1992. Page 18. Retrieved on January 10, 2012.
  26. ^ Chicago Sun-Times 


  • When the Nazis Came to Skokie: Freedom for Speech We Hate, Philippa Strum, University Press of Kansas (31 Mar 1999), ISBN 0-7006-0941-5
  • Skokie, 1888–1988: A centennial history, Richard Whittingham, Village of Skokie (1988), ASIN B00071EORW
  • Steven J. Heyman (ed.), Controversies in Constitutional Law: Hate Speech and the Constitution (New York and London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1996, Vol. II)
  • The industrialization of the Skokie area, James Byron Kenyon, University Of Chicago Press (1954), ASIN B0007DMRX8

External links

  • Village of Skokie official website
  • Brief history of Skokie
  • Skokie Historical Society
  • Skokie Public Library
    • SkokieNet Community Information Network (community blog)
    • Archive on the attempted Nazi march (newspaper clippings and other documents)
    • Skokie History Project (historic photographs)
    • Dr. Louise Klehm Archive
    • Skokie Fire Department History
  • The ACLU and the Skokie march (pdf), via Chicago History Museum
  • Skokie Festival of Cultures
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