How I define the regions of Illinois

My long-form response to ProPublica’s attempt to define Downstate Illinois

ProPublica Illinois has asked people for definitions on how they define Downstate Illinois, and, judging by responses on Twitter, there really isn’t a strict definition of Downstate Illinois:

As a lifelong resident of Vermilion County, Illinois, here’s my definition of Downstate Illinois:

In case you’re wondering, the Illinois counties that neighbor Cook County are, counter-clockwise from the south, Will, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, and Lake, and the blog post referenced in my tweet is this blog post that you’re reading.

I like to think of Illinois has having more than two regions, mainly because I’m not a binary-minded person. In this blog post, I’ll define various Illinois regions, some of which are commonly-used terms to describe Illinois regions, whereas others are rarely-used terms.

Here are definitions of Illinois regions that include the Chicago area:

  • Chicagoland — Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties
  • Chicago area — Same as Chicagoland
  • Collar Counties — Chicagoland minus Cook County
  • Chicago — The City of Chicago (NOTE: Chicago is treated as its own township for the purposes of defining regions that use Cook County townships for definition purposes)
  • Cook County — Cook County
  • Outer Cook County — All parts of Cook County outside Chicago
  • Greater Illinois — All parts of Illinois outside Chicago
  • Greater Chicagoland — Chicagoland plus Outer Chicagoland
  • Greater Chicago area — Same as Greater Chicagoland
  • Northern Illinois — Chicagoland plus Outstate Illinois
  • Chicago Northland — Lake and McHenry Counties plus the Cook County townships of Barrington, Elk Grove, Evanston, Hanover, Maine, New Trier, Niles, Northfield, Norwood Park, Palatine, Schamburg, and Wheeling
  • Northern Chicagoland — Same as Chicago Northland
  • Northern Chicago area — Same as Chicago Northland
  • Northern Cook County — The part of Chicago Northland that is in Cook County
  • Chicago Westland — Kane County, the portion of DuPage County that is not in the City of Chicago, and the Cook County townships of Berwyn, Cicero, Leyden, Lyons, Oak Park, Proviso, River Forest, Riverside, and Stickney
  • Western Chicagoland — Same as Chicago Westland
  • Western Chicago area — Same as Chicago Westland
  • Western Cook County — The part of Chicago Westland that is in Cook County
  • Chicago Southland — Will County plus the Cook County townships of Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Lemont, Palos, Orland, Rich, Thornton, and Worth
  • Southern Chicagoland — Same as Chicago Southland
  • Southern Chicago area — Same as Chicago Southland
  • Southern Cook County — The part of Chicago Southland that is in Cook County

Here are definitions of Illinois regions that do not include the Chicago area

  • Downstate Illinois — All parts of Illinois that are not part of Chicagoland
  • Outer Chicagoland — Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Kankakee, and Kendall Counties (NOTE: Outer Chicagoland is not part of Chicagoland, but is part of Greater Chicagoland)
  • Outstate Illinois — Outer Chicagoland plus Northwestern Illinois plus North Central Illinois
  • Northwestern Illinois — Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Rock Island and Whiteside Counties
  • North Central Illinois — Bureau, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties
  • Outer Northern Illinois — Northwestern Illinois plus North Central Illinois
  • Central Illinois — Western Illinois plus Mid-Illinois plus Eastern Illinois
  • Western Illinois—Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, Mercer, Pike, Schuyler, and Warren Counties
  • Northern Mid-Illinois — Livingston, Marshall, McLean, Peoria, Stark, Woodford, and Tazewell Counties
  • Southern Mid-Illinois — Cass, Christian, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jersey, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon, Scott, and Shelby Counties
  • Mid-Illinois — Northern Mid-Illinois plus Southern Mid-Illinois
  • Eastern Illinois — Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion Counties
  • Illinois Amish Country — Douglas and Moultrie Counties
  • Forgottonia — Same as Western Illinois
  • West Central Illinois— Same as Western Illinois
  • East Central Illinois — Same as Eastern Illinois
  • Southern Illinois — Metro-East plus Little Egypt
  • Metro-East — Madison and St. Clair Counties
  • Little Egypt — Alexander, Bond, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson Counties
  • Outer Metro-East — Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Monroe, Randolph, Montgomery, and Washington Counties (NOTE: Outer Metro-East is not part of Metro-East, but is part of Greater Metro-East)
  • Greater Metro-East — Metro-East plus Outer Metro-East
  • Outer Little Egypt— The part of Little Egypt that is not part of Outer Metro-East

Illinois’s regional division is more complicated than just a division between Chicagoland and Downstate. My definitions of Illinois’s regions are very sophisticated and are my recommendations for statistical use.