Metra lines serve Waukegan, albeit indirectly. The Union Pacific North Line between Kenosha and the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago serves Waukegan.
As of the 2013 United States Census estimate, the city has a population of 88,826, which makes it the ninth most populous city in Illinois. Waukegan is a predominately working-class community with a sizeable middle-class population. The site of present-day Waukegan was recorded as Rivière du Vieux Fort ("Old Fort River") and Wakaygagh on a 1778 map by Thomas Hutchins. By the 1820s, the French name had become "Small Fort River" in English, and the settlement was known as "Little Fort". The name "Waukegance" and then "Waukegan" (meaning "little fort"; cf. Potawatomi wakaigin "fort" or "fortress") was created by John H. Kinzie and Solomon Juneau, and the new name was adopted on March 31, 1849. Waukegan had an abolitionist community dating to these early days. In 1853, residents commemorated the anniversary of emancipation of slaves in the British Empire with a meeting. Waukegan arguably has the distinction of being the only place where Abraham Lincoln failed to finish a speech; when he campaigned in the town in 1860, a fire alarm rang, and the man soon-to-be president had his words interrupted. During the middle of the 19th century, Waukegan was becoming an important industrial hub.