History of Milwaukee
The name of the city probably derived from the Potawatomi word “minwaking,” meaning “gathering place by the water.” First land in the area of present-day Milwaukee was purchased in 1835 for the purpose of establishing a trading post on the Milwaukee River. Three men purchased the land and established two competing settlements, Juneautown and Kilbourntown. The towns grew quite big and their rivalry increased as well, culminating in the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. After the war, it was decided that it would be the best to merge the towns and so the City of Milwaukee was incorporated in 1846. Many German immigrants settled in Milwaukee in the following decades and their culture and tradition are still well present in the city. German immigration was interested in improving the cultural life in the city, building theaters and starting various artistic and musical societies.
Milwaukee prospered during the American Civil War. Local industries worked hard to fill the gaps created when many Southern markets closed. After the war, the progress in the city was overshadowed by several tragic events. In 1859, more than 300 people, of which the majority were Milwaukeeans, drowned when the steamship Lady Elgin collided with the schooner Augusta in Lake Michigan. In 1883 a fire killed 64 people and in 1892 another fire destroyed 16 blocks in the city. In 1886, there was a violent confrontation between protesting members of labor unions and the state troops who shot at the demonstrators, killing five and wounding many. 1890s were also marked by the rise of socialism in the city with notable socialist politicians such as Victor L. Berger and Emil Seidel.
By the end of the 19th century Milwaukee established itself as a major shipping and industrial center in the Midwest. Its economy was initially based on agriculture, especially on wheat, but later, in the 20th century, manufacturing became the most important sector, especially metal trades, leather goods, meat packing and brewing.
Geography and Climate
Milwaukee is located on the shores and bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, at the confluence of three rivers: Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic. The highest elevation is 581.2 feet above sea level. The city occupies 97.2 square miles, most of which is land.
The climate in Milwaukee is humid continental. Winters are cold, snowy and windy and summers are warm to hot and humid. Milwaukee is the second-coldest of the 50 largest cities in the United States, after Minneapolis-St. Paul.
At the 2010 Census, Milwaukee had a population of 494,833. The racial makeup was 40% Black or African American, 37% non-Hispanic White, 17.3% Hispanic or Latino, 3.5% Asian, 0.8* Native American and 3.4% from two or more races.
Various studies and surveys have found Milwaukee to be one of the most segregated cities in America. The largest ancestry groups are African American, German, Polish, Irish, Italian, English and French. The city has the fourth-largest concentration of Polish Americans in the nation, most of them living in the South Side. The city also has a number of immigrants from ex-Yugoslavia, as well as Lithuania, Russia, Bohemia and Sweden. The city is considered to be very gay-friendly and in 2001 it was named the best city for lesbians in the USA by the “Girlfriend” magazine.
The median household income is $32,216 and the per capita income is $16,181. Approximately 21% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The largest economic sectors in Milwaukee are health care and financial services, insurance, manufacturing (especially of machinery), printing and publishing. The city has headquarters of several major companies, including Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower and Rockwell Automation, all of which are Fortune 500 companies. Other large companies include Koss, Master Lock, Red Star Yeast, Wisconsin Energy, A.O. Smith and Jefferson Wells.
Milwaukee was once home to four of the largest breweries in the world (Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller) but the only one remaining today in the city is Miller.
Museums and Attractions
Notable museums in Milwaukee include the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Grohmann Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World, Pabst Mansion, America’s Black Holocaust Museum and Harley-Davidson Museum. The city is home to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Milwaukee produced a number of major names in popular music, most notably Liberace, Les Paul, Violent Femmes, Al Jarreau, The Promise Ring and Die Kreuzen.
Known as the “City of Festivals,” Milwaukee hosts the Wisconsin State Fair, Summerfest, Polish Fest, German Fest, Festa Italiana, Pride Fest, Trainfest and many other annual events.
Education in Milwaukee
As for the higher education, top institutions in the city include University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Medical College of Milwaukee, Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch University, Alverno College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Mount Mary College and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Primary airport for the city is General Mitchell International Airport. Intercity rail service is provided by Amtrak with Hiawatha and Empire Builder trains, while bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines and Jefferson Lines. Lake transportation is available through Lake Express car and passenger ferries.
The city is home to the Milwaukee Brewers of the MLB and the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA.