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 percentage of any Chicago suburb. In recent years, 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, it 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.
According to the 2010 census, Skokie has a total area of 10.06 square miles (26.06 km2), all land. 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.