MILWAUKEE , Wisconsin's largest city, located on the southeast tip of the shores of Lake Michigan. A few Jews are known to have lived in the area in the latter part of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Ezekial Solomon, perceived to be Jewish, was one of 14 fur traders permitted by the British to come to the area in 1770. An 1820 newspaper account refers to a "Jew peddler who was a victim of murder by three Indians who committed the deed to obtain the goods he carried on his back, going on foot from place to place" – an incident in Kaukauna. Gabriel Shoyer arrived in 1836, followed shortly by his brothers, Charles, Gabriel, Emanuel, Meyer, Samuel, and William. Several of the brothers opened a clothing store, Emanuel Shoyer a tailor shop, and in 1851 Charles began to practice medicine.
Early settlers, in 1842, were the families of Solomon Adler, Isaac Neustadt, and Moses Weil. Other immigrants arrived shortly afterwards from Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Austria. From 70 families in 1850, the population grew to 200 in 1856 and to an estimated 2,074 in 1875. Intensive czarist persecutions in 1882 generated a flow of immigrants from Russia. By 1895, Russian Jews represented 39 percent of the Jewish population, then 7,000 people. The population grew to an estimated 22,000 by 1925. Several thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and World War ii came from 1938 on. The Jewish population was estimated at 23,900 in 1968 and 21,000 in 2001.
The earliest settlers from Western Europe settled on the near east side. Those settlers were soon vastly outnumbered by immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled on the near north side. There were two centers of Jewish population by the mid-1940s, the largest on the northwest side; the older east side settlers increased in number and moved northward into suburbs along Lake Michigan. By 1990, the majority of northwest side Jews had also moved to those suburbs; now a diminished northwest side community consists essentially of families desiring proximity to an Orthodox synagogue because of connections to its ḥasidic rabbi Michel Twerski.
The earliest Jewish settlers from Western Europe were involved in clothing manufacturing, grain, meatpacking, and had a substantial presence in the Great Lakes transportation business. Those who followed from Eastern Europe had less financial resources, working for their livelihoods as country peddlers, grocers, and clothiers. From 1895 into the 1920s Jews owned many clothing factories and retail shops. Wholesale dry goods, knitting goods, and yarn mills were developed with Jewish initiative. Jews had a substantial presence in flour milling, soap, and tobacco manufacturing and department store enterprises. Immigrants from Eastern Europe advanced from their roles as small tradesmen into larger retail and wholesale fields. In the 1920s, Jews became clerical workers and began to enter the arts and professions. By the early 1960s, the number of small storekeepers had substantially diminished; the peddler and small junk dealer virtually vanished; many of their sons were prominent in professions and in the business world.
A number of manufacturing, industrial, and commercial companies of national note were created and operated by Milwaukee Jews. The Master Lock Company, the world's largest padlock manufacturer, was founded by Harry E. Soref, an inventor, Samuel Stahl, and P.E. Yolles in 1921. The most extensive food store chain in Wisconsin was begun by Max Kohl in 1927. Kohl and his sons also founded the Kohl's Department Store chain, which by 2000 had grown to be one of the largest chains in the United States. Elmer L. Winter and Aaron Scheinfeld established Manpower in 1948; the company became the largest of its kind in the world with branches on all continents. In 1956, Max H. Karl founded the world's largest private mortgage insurer, Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Company. Clothing manufacturers of national note included Jack Winter & Company, Junior House, founded by William Feldstein and Sol Rosenberg, later becoming J.H. Collectibles.
Responding to the social, financial, welfare, and health needs of Jewish people, a number of communal agencies were created, the first of which was the Hebrew Relief Society (1867), now the Jewish Family Service. The Settlement, predecessor of the Abraham Lincoln House, now the Jewish Community Center, was begun in 1900. A Jewish-sponsored hospital, Mount Sinai, was organized in 1902. By the 1990s, it had become a non-sectarian institution in sponsorship as well as in service – the Aurora-Sinai Medical Center. The Jewish Vocational Service (1938) was created to help Jews find employment during the Great Depression, a time when substantial numbers fleeing from Nazism were coming as refugees. The Jewish Vocational Service became the largest organization of its kind in the United States outside of New York, financing coming from the state and federal governments and a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish sources with primary support from the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. In the early 1990s, it became non-sectarian in sponsorship as well as in service.
The Milwaukee Jewish Council, organized initially to combat antisemitism, and then xenophobia in all forms, was created in 1938. A Bureau of Jewish Education was organized by the Jewish Federation in 1944 to develop, strengthen, and coordinate Jewish education activity. The Milwaukee Jewish Home for Jewish elderly (1904) and the Jewish Convalescent Hospital (1950) merged in the late 1990s into one entity, which provides a variety of forms of assisted living, including intensive nursing home care.
All communal agencies came together in 1902 to create the Federated Jewish Charities in order to unify fundraising efforts and to help strengthen the work of all communal agencies. During the Depression, the organization foundered and discontinued operations. The pressing need to aid refugees in the 1930s resulted in the creation of a successor organization, the Milwaukee Jewish Welfare Fund, with a name change to Milwaukee Jewish Federation in 1972 to reflect its functions as a central communal organization for planning of services and centralized fundraising to meet needs deemed to be the responsibility of the total Jewish community. To coordinate work with refugees, the Federation created the Milwaukee Committee for Jewish Refugees in 1938 and in 1948 developed the Central Planning Committee for Jewish Services, its community-planning arm to avoid duplication and waste in efforts, etc. Orderliness in fundraising was served by the Committee on Unified and Coordinated Fund Raising beginning in 1957.
Major community buildings include the Max and Anita Karl Campus, which houses the Jewish Community Center, the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, the Coalition for Jewish Learning (previously the Board of Jewish Education), the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, the Hillel Academy, and the Children's Lubavitch Living and Learning Center. The Helfaer Community Services building houses the Federation, the Milwaukee Jewish Council, and the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. The Milwaukee Jewish Home, which is adjacent to the Helfaer Building, and a new additional campus of the Jewish Home created in the suburb of Mequon in 2004 serve the elderly. The Jewish Community Center runs a summer overnight camp situated in Eagle River, 300 miles north of Milwaukee, and a summer day camp.
The first Jew elected to the state legislature was Bernard Schlesinger Weil in 1851. Henry M. Benjamin, one of eight Jewish aldermen before 1900, also was acting mayor of Milwaukee in 1875. Three Jews sat on the Common Council after 1920: Arthur Shutkin until 1928, Samuel Soref until 1940, and Fred P. Meyers after that. Charles L. Aarons served as a county judge from 1926 to 1950; Max Raskin, a city attorney from 1932 to 1936, later was a circuit court judge. Maurice M. Spracker served in a similar capacity for many years, beginning in 1968. Charles Schudson served as a circuit court judge until 2004. Myron L. Gordon, who had served as a justice on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, became a federal judge for the Wisconsin Eastern District beginning in 1967.
Milwaukee Jews were in positions of note nationally and internationally. Marcus *Otterbourg was U.S. minister to Mexico in 1857. Newton *Minow, who was born in Milwaukee, but later lived in Chicago, was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. His description of television programming as a "vast wasteland" resulted in legislation enabling oversight by the government of television and radio advertising.
Joseph A. *Padway, who served as a State senator and then as a civil court judge, became the first general counsel of the American Federation of Labor. In that capacity, he successfully defended the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act before the United States Supreme Court.
Among those who became prominent nationally was Wilbur J. *Cohen, who served as secretary of health, education, and welfare beginning in 1968. Earlier, he had helped write the Social Security Act in 1935. Victor L. *Berger, principle founder of the Social Democratic Party, was the first socialist elected to the House of Representatives of the United States (1911–13 and 1919–29). From 1992 onward both United States senators, democrats from Wisconsin, were Jewish: Herbert *Kohl, who served continuously from 1988 and Russ *Feingold of Madison, first elected in 1992.
William *Haber was advisor on Jewish affairs to General Lucius Clay, commander and chief of all Allied forces in Europe after World War ii. Haber also served as an economic advisor for several U.S. presidents and as dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. Prominent in Jewish organizational life, he was chairman of several national and international Jewish organizations.
The best known of all Jewish Milwaukeeans was Golda *Meir (Myerson), who emigrated to Israel from Milwaukee and became Israel's prime minister in 1969, leading the country through the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which threatened the very existence of the state. Her life has been the subject of numerous books, biographies, and her own autobiography. Baseball fans may dispute Meir's primacy and think of Bud *Selig, the long-reigning first Jewish commissioner of baseball, who was also an owner of the Milwaukee Brewers team.
The community's oldest synagogue, Congregation Emanu-el B'ne Jeshurun, organized in 1856, grew out of a merger of Congregation Emanu-el (1850), Ahabath Emuno (1854), and Anshe Emeth (1855). Its membership was of German and West European extraction. Synagogues organized by immigrants of Eastern Europe followed, e.g., Beth Israel, initially Orthodox – now Conservative (1886); Anshe Sfard (1889); Agudas Achim (1904); Anshe Lubavitch (1906); and Beth Jehudah (1929). Additional reform congregations are Sholom (1951) and Sinai (1955). Conservative Temple Menorah was organized in 1957. Orthodox Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah was organized in 1988; Agudas Achim merged with North Shore Chabad in 1993; Lake Park Synagogue in 1983; a Reconstructionist Congregation Shir Hadash was begun in 1990.
The primary public media instrument in Milwaukee is the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, established in 1921 by Nathan J. Gould and Irving R. Rhodes. Rhodes published the paper as sole proprietor after Gould's death in 1941. There had been several predecessor Jewish newspapers; the first, The Zeitgeist, was published in German by a Milwaukee rabbi for a few years, beginning in 1880. In 1914, a Yiddish newspaper, The Wochenblat, was created, published until it folded in 1932. Another Yiddish language paper, The Yidishe Shtimme, lasted for just one year, beginning in September 1930. Rhodes saw the paper as an advocate for the concept of community and consensus building. He simultaneously served as a board member of a number of agencies and was the only Federation General Campaign Chair to serve for three successive years. When Rhodes found publication burdensome, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation purchased the Chronicle to assure continuity of the publication and the Federation continues to publish the newspaper.
L.J. Swichkow and L.P. Gartner, The History of the Jews of Milwaukee (1963); American Jewish Year Book (1900–1, 1928–29, 1939–39); Jewish Community Blue Book of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, compiled by the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (1924); L.J. Swichkow, "The Jewish Agricultural Colony of Arpin, Wisconsin," in: American Jewish Quarterly (1964).
[Melvin S. Zaret (2nd ed.)]
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Milwaukee, a commercial and industrial hub for the Great Lakes region, is home to six Fortune 1000 manufacturers (including Harley-Davidson Inc., Rockwell Automation, and Johnson Controls), banks, and diversified service companies as well as one of the nation's ten largest insurance firms. The metropolitan area places among the top manufacturing centers in the United States, ranking second among major metropolitan areas in the percentage of its workforce in manufacturing. The economy is dominated by small- to medium-size firms with representatives in nearly every industrial classification.
Metropolitan area firms are engaged primarily in the manufacture of machinery; contrary to Milwaukee's reputation as a brewery capital, less than one percent of the city's industrial output is related to brewing. In recent years, the metro region has earned a reputation as a center for precision manufacturing. It leads the nation in the production of industrial controls, X-ray equipment, steel foundry parts, and mining machinery. The area is also considered a printing and publishing center, housing more than 11 percent of the top 70 printing companies in North America. Publishers and printers combined employ more than 21,000 people, about 2.5 percent of the workforce.
Professional and managerial positions are the fastest-growing occupations in Milwaukee, accounting for almost 27 percent of the workforce. Service businesses constitute the largest sector of the local economy, and health care positions account for about 27 percent of service sector jobs. The area is home to four major multi-hospital health systems. Other major areas of service employment include business services (27 percent), educational services (7 percent) and social services (10 percent).
Nearly a quarter of the state's high-tech firms, employing more than one-third of Wisconsin's technology industry staff, are located in Milwaukee County. Between 1990 and 1999, Milwaukee led Wisconsin in the creation of high-tech jobs, adding 10,000 positions.
Tourism is also a major contributor to the local economy. Milwaukee hosts many festivals and parades throughout the year, and is home to nationally recognized museums, a zoo, professional sports teams, and entertainment venues. Altogether these attractions bring more than 5 million tourists and generate $1.9 billion annually.
Items and goods produced: automobile frames and parts, heavy pumping machinery, gas engines, heavy lubricating and agricultural equipment, large mining shovels, dredges, saw mill and cement machinery, malt drinks and products, packaged meat, boots, shoes, leather products, knit goods, women's sportswear, gloves, children's clothes, diesel engines, motorcycles, outboard motors, electrical equipment, products of iron and steel foundries, metal fabricators
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Businesses
Milwaukee is known for its harmonious working relationship with the business community throughout the entire area. Its Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is a nonprofit corporation offering financial resources to aid in the city's economic growth. Its staff provides financial, technical, training, and ombudsman services to Milwaukee businesses and also assists in securing state of Wisconsin business development funds for Milwaukee firms. MEDC is very supportive of minority-owned businesses. Additionally, the city of Milwaukee's Emerging Business Enterprise Program helps emerging and small businesses with support services, contract opportunities, and financial resources, and helps establish mentor relationships between emerging and established businesses.
The city's Community Block Grant Administration oversees the use of approximately $30 million of federal funds or programs in targeted central city neighborhoods. The funding is used for housing rehab programs, special job and business development, and public service programs such as crime prevention, job training, housing for homeless, youth recreation programs and community organization programs.
Wisconsin's Department of Commerce was created in 1996; it offers a variety of loan and grant programs for both businesses and communities. The depart-ment's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program was created to increase participation of firms owned by disadvantaged individuals in all federal aid and state transportation facility contracts. The department's Minority Business Development loan program provides financial assistance for the creation and expansion of minority-owned businesses in Wisconsin through low interest loans. The Employee Ownership Assistance Loan Program helps groups of employees purchase businesses that would otherwise close by providing individual awards up to $15,000 for feasibility studies or professional assistance.
Job training programs
The Milwaukee industrial and business community profits from area educational institutions, which provide technology transfer, research services, and training programs. The state's Customized Labor Training program assists companies that are investing in new technologies or manufacturing processes by providing a grant of up to 50 percent of the cost of training employees on the new technologies. Also available in Milwaukee is the "Small Business School" television program, a series that highlights some of America's most successful small businesses and their owners.
In 2005, the city of Milwaukee received $20.2 million in federal assistance for continued economic development. This assistance took the form of an $18 million New Market Tax Credit allocation and $2.2 million in brownfield grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency. The New Market Tax Credit will be used to offer low-interest loans to businesses in low-income areas of the city. The brownfield grants will be used to clean up properties contaminated from previous uses, such as former gas station sites. In 2004, Real Estate Recycling spent $10 million to renovate a former foundry plant, creating the 200,000 square foot Stadium Business Park. The area will be used for light industrial businesses.
Economic Development Information: Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce, 756 N. Milwaukee St., Ste. 400, Milwaukee, WI 53202; telephone (414)287-4100. Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation, 809 N. Broadway, PO Box 324, Milwaukee, WI 53201; telephone (414)286-5840
Because of its location near the nation's population center—nearly 66 million people and one-third of U.S. manufacturing output is within 600 miles of the city—Milwaukee is a major commercial shipping hub. Of vital importance to both the local and state economies is the Port of Milwaukee, a shipping and receiving point for international trade as well as the primary heavy-lift facility on the Great Lakes. A protected harbor permits year-round navigation through the port from three rivers in addition to Lake Michigan. With access to the eastern seaboard via the St. Lawrence Seaway and to the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River, the Port of Milwaukee processes three million tons of cargo annually and has helped the state maintain an export growth rate twice the national average. Principal inbound commodities include cement, coal, machinery, steel, salt, limestone, asphalt, and crushed rock.
More than 500 multiservice motor freight carriers are engaged in shipping goods from Milwaukee to markets throughout the country. Two major rail lines serve the greater Milwaukee area; altogether, Wisconsin has 4,500 miles of track and 12 freight railroads handling 94 million tons of cargo. More than 200 million pounds of cargo and mail are handled annually by air freight carriers at General Mitchell International Airport, Wisconsin's primary terminal for commercial air travel and freight shipments.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Milwaukee is noted for a well educated workforce with a strong work ethic. Employees call in sick less frequently than those in other major urban areas, and children consistently rank near the top in scholastic achievement tests. Private business drives the city's economy, with less than 11 percent of area employees working in the public sector. Just under 22 percent of Milwaukee's workers are in manufacturing jobs, the second-highest percentage among U.S. metropolitan areas. While manufacturing is a strong component of the city's economy, service jobs have shown the most growth in recent years.
The city's diverse economy and strong work ethic has helped keep area unemployment under the national average in each of the last 30 years. Milwaukee ranks slightly below the national average in pay levels for most occupations.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Milwaukee metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average.
Size of non-agricultural labor force: 832,300
Number of workers employed in . . .
trade, transportation and utilities: 152,500
financial activities: 57,400
professional and business services: 106,800
educational and health services: 131,400
leisure and hospitality: 65,200
other services: 41,500
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.22
Unemployment rate: 5.6% (February 2005)
|Largest employers (2004)||Number of employees|
|Aurora Health Care||15,500|
|Covenant Healthcare System Inc.||9,520|
|Marshall & Ilsley Corp.||6,800|
Cost of Living
Metropolitan Milwaukee's cost of living ranks below other major metropolitan areas. The area offers a wide array of homes in a variety of price ranges.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Milwaukee area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $296,114
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 101.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 4.90% to 6.93%
State sales tax rate: 5.0%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: 0.6%
Property tax rate: Range from $14.79 to $39.45 per $1,000 assessed valuation (2004)
Economic Information: Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce, 756 N. Milwaukee St., Ste. 400l, Milwaukee, WI 53202; telephone (414)287-4100
Milwaukee successfully mixes old and new architectural styles that tell the history of the city from its beginning to the present. Kilbourntown House, the 1844 home of one of the city's founding fathers, was built by Benjamin Church and is an example of temple-type Greek Revival architecture. It is open to the public and furnished with mid-nineteenth century furniture and decorative arts. The Jeremiah Curtin House, built in 1846, is an example of Irish cottage architecture, and was the first stone house to be built in the town of Greenfield. Built about the same time, the Lowell Damon House exemplifies the colonial style and is furnished with nineteenth century furniture, décor, and art. Milwaukee's City Hall, completed in 1894, was designed by Henry C. Koch and Company, and cost more than $1 million to build. The building stands more than 350 feet tall and is in Flemish Renaissance style, featuring carved woodwork, black granite, leaded glass, stenciled ceilings, and stained-glass windows. The Pabst Mansion, another example of Flemish Renaissance architecture, was built in 1892 and contains decorative woodwork and ironwork.
Milwaukee is also noted for its church architecture. The St. Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette University is a fifteenth-century French chapel moved from France to Milwaukee in 1965. Under its dome, modeled after St. Peter's in Rome, the Basilica of St. Josaphat displays stained glass, murals, and a collection of relics and portraits. Designed during a time of revival fantasy architecture, the Tripoli Shrine Temple is one of a few examples of the Indian Saracenic architectural style in the U.S. It was modeled after the Taj Mahal in India, and features three domes, two recumbent camel sculptures, ceramic tile, plaster lattice work, and decorative floral designs. The Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary looks out onto one of Wisconsin's national parks, and features spires, mosaics, stained glass windows, and a nineteenth-century statue of Mary and Jesus. St. Stephen's Catholic Church is the last remnant of the 1840 German settlement of New Coeln, and the church's wood carvings are said to be world famous.
The Milwaukee County Zoo is home to more than 2,000 mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, representing more than 350 species; the zoo also features workshops, holiday celebrations, concerts, and food festivals. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, also known as "the Domes," cultivates tropical, arid, and seasonal plant displays in three beehive-shaped domes. The Boerner Botanical Gardens at Whitnall Park displays perennials, wild-flowers, annuals, and herbs, and features a highly praised rose garden. The Wehr Nature Center, also in Whitnall Park, offers self-guided tours, nature programs, live animals, and three formal gardens. The Center also features 200 acres of land with 5 miles of hiking trails.
Arts and Culture
Milwaukee's cultural heritage dates to the nineteenth century when German immigrants established the city's first music societies and theater groups. Today the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra—the state's only professional orchestra—performs more than 150 classical and pop concerts each season, with 88 full-time musicians. The Orchestra is attended by more than 300,000 people annually, and runs one of the largest state touring programs of any U.S. orchestra. At home, the Orchestra plays at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, which is also the home of the Milwaukee Ballet Company, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony, and the Florentine Opera Company. The Skylight Opera Theatre, founded in 1959, presents a season of more than 80 productions ranging from Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan. The Theatre is located in the Broadway Theatre Center in the city's historic Third Ward.
For more than 50 years, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's multi-play season is produced in the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex, which includes a Mainstage theater seating 720 patrons, the Stiemke Theatre featuring flexible seating, and the Stackner Cabaret where patrons take advantage of the full-service bar and restaurant. Riverside Theater presents theatrical shows and musical performances. The Milwaukee Chamber Theater has been producing first-class live theater for more than 30 years.
Milwaukee's museums present a variety of choices for the art enthusiast. The Milwaukee Art Museum on Lake Michigan is housed in the War Memorial Center designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the St. Louis Arch. The Museum's permanent collection consists of nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting and sculpture, extensive Haitian art holdings, and the Bradley gift of modern art displayed in a wing built in 1975. In 2001, the Museum unveiled its newest addition—the Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The Charles Allis Art Museum houses its collection of nineteenth-century French and American paintings in a 1911 Edwardian mansion. The collection spans 2,000 years and includes original and antique furnishings. The American Geographical Society Collection at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee exhibits material related to geography, exploration, cartography, and the earth and social sciences.
Other Milwaukee museums include the Discovery World Museum with 150 hands-on exhibits and live theater shows; Thomas A. Greene Memorial Museum with minerals, crystals, and fossils; the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University with a wide range of art forms; the Milwaukee County Historical Center; and America's Black Holocaust Museum. With more than 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Milwaukee Public Museum features a Costa Rican rainforest, archeological exhibits, and a live butterfly house. The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, overlooking Lake Michigan, displays its collections in an Italian Renaissance-style villa.
Festivals and Holidays
Milwaukee, dubbed the "City of Festivals," is the site of a wide variety of ethnic and cultural festivals, many of them held along the city's lakefront. Most events are scheduled in the summer, beginning with RiverSplash in June, which hosts a paddleboat race, canoe rides, fireworks, street vendors, food booths, and live music. In July, Bastille Days celebrates all things French with French cuisine, live entertainment, and a 5K run. Summerfest, billed as the world's largest music festival, attracts national headliners for a week-plus celebration. Set on the shore of Lake Michigan, Summerfest takes place in a 23,000-seat amphitheater and offers unique attractions and food from more than 50 restaurants in addition to live music.
For parade fans, Milwaukee hosts a St. Patrick's Day Parade every March, complete with bagpipes, clowns, local politicians and celebrities, floats, and marching bands. The annual Great Circus Parade in July, presented by Baraboo's Circus World Museum, attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. The event features 75 historical circus wagons, clowns, 750 horses, and elephants, camels, and zebras. On parade day, circus performers and animals follow a three-mile route for an authentic recreation of a turn-of the century circus parade. Another popular event close to Milwaukee is the Wisconsin State Fair in August; the Fair runs 11 days and features agriculture, food, shopping, and 28 stages of local and national entertainment.
Sports for the Spectator
Major league baseball's Milwaukee Brewers compete in the National League and play their home games at Miller Park. The Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association are based at the Bradley Center, a privately funded $94 million sports and concert facility that provides the city with one of the nation's most architecturally significant and functional sports facilities. Bradley Center is also home to the Marquette University Golden Eagles NCAA basketball team and the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. From its home at the U.S. Cellular Arena, the Milwaukee Wave became the 2005 Major Indoor Soccer League Champions.
Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers field teams in most collegiate sports. Jetrockets, wheelstanders, and funny cars are featured in a season of competition at the Great Lakes Dragway from April through November. The Milwaukee Mile, the oldest operating motor speedway in the world, attracts nationally known drivers for Indy car, Stock Car, and NASCAR events.
Sports for the Participant
The Milwaukee County Park System maintains more than 140 parks on nearly 15,000 acres. Indoor and outdoor recreational activities offered year-round include rugby, soccer, softball, baseball, swimming, tennis, golf, ice skating, tobogganing, and boating. Public skating is available at the Pettit National Ice Center, which contains the country's first U.S. indoor 400-meter racing oval, one of only five worldwide. The center was the first facility to house speed skating, hockey, and figure skating under one roof, and has hosted events such as the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships and the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Time Trials. Milwaukee's location on Lake Michigan offers a myriad of water-related recreational opportunities.
Shopping and Dining
Milwaukee is one of a few Midwestern cities with a skywalk system connecting the downtown commercial district; one section, called Riverspan, bridges the Milwaukee River. The Riverwalk walkway along the Milwaukee River is lined with shops and restaurants. Downtown, the Shops of Grand Avenue is an enclosed multilevel four-block marketplace of 150 shops and restaurants and five historic buildings forming the core of the glass skywalk system. The Historic Third Ward is a restored warehouse district featuring art galleries, restaurants, antiques, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Old World Third Street gives visitors a taste of Old Milwaukee with cobblestone intersections and ethnic markets and restaurants. Brady Street serves as Milwaukee's Italian neighborhood with authentic restaurants, markets, bakeries, and an artistic, student-oriented crowd. Several neighborhood and regional shopping malls also serve the metropolitan area. Fondy Farmers' Market, the city's largest farmers' market, is open six days a week in season and specializes in locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, and food products.
Some of the best German restaurants in the country are located in Milwaukee, such as Karl Ratzsch's, Restaurant, Mader's Restaurant, and the Bavarian Wurst Haus. Dining in Milwaukee is not limited to award-winning German cuisine, however; besides Continental, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese restaurants, Milwaukee offers a surprising mix of other ethnic choices, such as African, Irish, Cajun, Polish, Serbian, and Thai. One of the city's most popular food specialties is the fish fry, which can be found at Buck Bradley's, Harry's Bar and Grill, Red Rock Café, and the Potawatomi Bingo Casino.
Visitor Information: Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., 648 Plankinton Ave., Ste. 425, Milwaukee, WI 53203; telephone (800)554-1448
Milwaukee: Education and Research
Milwaukee: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Milwaukee Public Schools system, serving almost 100,000 students, is administered by a nine-member, non-partisan board of school directors that appoints a superintendent. The system employs more than 6,700 full-time, part-time, and substitute teachers. In 2003, Milwaukee Public Schools had a 60 percent graduation rate; more than 50 percent of graduating students planned on attending some sort of college or university. Overall, students maintained an 89.9 percent attendance rate. Milwaukee public school-teachers are well-educated; in 2004, 46 percent of teachers held a master's degree or higher.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Milwaukee public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 105,000
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 125
middle schools: 16
high schools: 18 (plus 23 middle/high combined)
other: 72 (including alternative, partnership, and charter schools; and other programs)
Student/teacher ratio: 15:1
Funding per pupil: $11,219
More than 100 private elementary and secondary schools serve metropolitan Milwaukee. Choices include 7 Montessori schools, 21 charter schools, and 11 year-around schools as well as a number of parochial schools.
Public Schools Information: Milwaukee Public Schools, Administration Building, 5225 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53208; telephone (414)475-8393
Colleges and Universities
Milwaukee is home to many higher education institutions. A 2000 study by McGill University in Montreal ranked Milwaukee 5th in a list of U.S. and Canadian cities with the highest number of college students per 100 residents. One of the largest schools in the area is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It is one of two doctoral universities in the University of Wisconsin system, and has an enrollment of 23,000. The school offers more than 120 undergraduate majors, 47 master's degrees, and 17 doctorate degrees. It is also one of the top research institutions in the country, ranking in the top 3.5 percent of national universities.
Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit school composed of 6 colleges with 60 undergraduate majors. Still, it keeps class sizes small, with an average freshman class size of 32. It was recently named one of the nation's 50 best college values by U.S. News and World Report magazine. The Medical College of Wisconsin is part of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. It is a private, academic institution that emphasizes education, research, patient care, and local partnerships. Other schools in the area include Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll College, Carthage College, Concordia University Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Mount Mary College, and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
The area also boasts a number of technical colleges. Milwaukee Area Technical College offers more than 150 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and short-term certificates. At nearby Gateway Technical College, the school has more than 70 career options. Waukesha County Technical College focuses on technical education, occupational training, and enrichment programs.
Libraries and Research Centers
In addition to its main facility, the Milwaukee Public Library operates 12 branches throughout the city and a bookmobile. Total library holdings include about 2.7 million books, and other materials such as periodicals, films, CDs, records, art reproductions, sheet music, and art objects, in addition to more than 1.5 million government documents. Special collections are maintained on a wide range of subjects, and computer resources are also available. The library was a recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Education 2004 Promoting Educational Achievement for Kids Award for its many literacy and education programs. The Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee maintains holdings of 1.3 million books as well as special collections in many scholarly fields. The library's largest and most distinguished research collection is the American Geographical Society Library. It holds more than one million items dating from 1452 to the present, with items ranging from rare old manuscripts to early printed books of satellite data. Additional resources are found in such specialized collections as the Hebraica and Judaica Collection, the Slichter and Hohlweck Civil War Collections, and the Harry and Dorothy Jagodzinski Franklin Delano Roosevelt Collection.
The James J. Flannery Map Library is another University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee collection that includes U.S. Geological Survey topographical maps, wall maps, air photos, and various other maps; the Map Library is a government depository library for maps and is open to the public. The Medical College of Wisconsin Libraries have three facilities housing 76,000 books and 130,000 bound periodical volumes pertaining to basic sciences, clinical medicine, and nursing; the main library is a depository for World Health Organization publications. The Medical College is recognized as a leading center for research in such fields as interferon, obesity, allergies, eye disorders, arthritis, heart disease, childhood cancer, and diagnostic imaging.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee maintains the Office of Industrial Research and Technology Transfer, the International Business Center, and the Femtosecond Laser Laboratory. Marquette University conducts in-house training programs in management development, computer technology, and industrial technology. The Biological and Biomedical Research Institute at Marquette University stimulates collaborative research by scientists in the life sciences. The Milwaukee School of Engineering houses the Applied Technology Center, the nationally known Fluid Power Institute, and the Biomedical Research Institute.
Public Library Information: Milwaukee Public Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233; telephone (414)286-3000
Tribal Meeting Place Draws Permanent Settlement
Mahn-a-waukee Seepe, a Native American word meaning "gathering place by the river," was the name given to the land next to the natural bay where the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers flow into Lake Michigan and where a number of tribes met to hold counsel. The Potawatomi was the largest of the local tribes and they, along with the Menominee, were under French control in the seventeenth century. As white traders moved into the territory, the Native Americans withdrew into the wilderness. The Menominee gave up land east and north of the Milwaukee River in 1831, and the United Nation of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi signed a treaty in Chicago in 1833 that relinquished a large section of land south and west of the Milwaukee River.
In 1835 three men bought the first land holdings in Milwaukee at a land auction in Green Bay. French trader Solomon Juneau had operated a trading post near the Milwaukee River since 1818, and he purchased the land between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan that he named Juneautown. Byron Kilbourn named his western tract Kilbourntown, and George H. Walker claimed a southern section. Juneau accrued great wealth through his trading business; he also served as an interpreter and peacemaker between the Native Americans and white settlers. Juneau sold some of his land, and he and the new investors established a village that they named Milwaukee. The first population wave took place when Irish and New England settlers and German immigrants arrived. In 1838 the Potawatomi were relocated to Kansas.
A feud called the Bridge War, notorious in Milwaukee history, began in 1840 when the villages of Juneautown and Kilbourntown, which were consolidated in 1839, disputed payments for river bridges required by the legislature. This feuding continued for five years and in 1845 erupted in violence. The Bridge War was finally resolved when the legislature ordered that costs be shared equally between the two founding communities. The next year the city charter was ratified, and Solomon Juneau was elected the first mayor of Milwaukee.
By that time the city's population numbered 10,000 people, half of them German and a higher percentage Catholic. John Martin Henni was appointed bishop of the new diocese, becoming the first German Catholic bishop in America. In 1848 the arrival of the "forty-eighters," German intellectuals forced to flee their homeland after their rebellion failed, helped to influence the direction of Milwaukee history. These men wanted to establish a free German republic but settled for improving the cultural and political life of the city by creating theaters and musical societies, and generally upgrading Milwaukee's intellectual life. Between 1850 and 1851 Milwaukee's population more than doubled to 46,000 people. The economy prospered during the Civil War as local industries grew rapidly and filled in the gaps created by the closing of southern markets.
Progress Continues Despite Setbacks
Several disasters threatened Milwaukee's progress. In 1867, the city's first major labor union, the Knights of St. Crispin, was formed in the shoe industry. As the economy expanded so did the labor movement, which received a setback when state troops fired on labor demonstrators in 1886, killing five. Almost 300 people drowned in 1859 when the Lady Elgin collided with the Augusta ; Milwaukee again mourned when a fire at the Newhall House in 1883 took at least sixty-four lives. Both events were commemorated in popular ballads. In 1892 sixteen residential and business blocks between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan were destroyed by fire. Despite this tragedy, the decade of the 1890s in Milwaukee was described as the "golden age," marked by the flourishing of German theater and musical societies.
The rise of Milwaukee's brand of socialism dates from this period, when Socialist leader Victor L. Berger forged an alliance with labor, bringing the Social Democratic party into existence. Emil Seidel was elected the first Socialist mayor in 1910 and Berger became the first Socialist in the U.S. House of Representatives. The "bundle brigade" delivered campaign pamphlets in twelve languages to rally votes. In addition to Seidel, Daniel W. Hoan and Frank P. Zeidler later also served as Socialist mayors. In keeping with anti-German sentiments during World War I, the statue of Germania was removed from the Brumder Building and Berger was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act. This decision was, however, reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921.
Milwaukee has been a shipping center and industrial giant in the Midwest, noted in the nineteenth century for wheat and then in the twentieth century for manufacturing, primarily the metal trades, meat packing, tanning and leather goods, brewing, and durable goods. Milwaukee industry has contributed to national and international progress with steam shovels to dig the Panama Canal, turbines to harness Niagara Falls, and agricultural equipment to farm the world's land. Today Milwaukee maintains its status as a leader in manufacturing technology and practice while it makes the transition to a service-based economy. Milwaukee boasts good schools, a diverse economy, a strong work ethic, a high quality of life, and a beautiful location on the western edge of Lake Michigan in the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine. The city has also become a cultural leader, with a world-class symphony orchestra, 20 performing arts groups, a ballet, two opera companies, a zoo, six professional sports teams, several major universities, and Summerfest, the world's largest music festival.
Historical Information: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 910 N. Old World 3rd St., Milwaukee, WI 53203; telephone (414)273-8288
MILWAUKEE is the largest city in Wisconsin and the nineteenth largest in the United States. Known as the Cream City (for the cream-colored bricks produced there), Brew City (for its many breweries), and the German Athens (for its once-dominant German population), Milwaukee was still known at the end of the twentieth century for its bratwurst, ethnic festivals, and innovative city government. Milwaukee's history has been marked by the long terms of its mayors. The nonpartisan format of local elections (a socialist reform) produced remarkable stability
in the mayoralty, as only three men held the job between 1948 and 2000.
The area now known as Milwaukee (opinions differ as to the exact Native American meaning of the name, but the most likely is "gathering place") was the home to various settlements after at least a.d. 400. The first permanent white settlements began in the early 1830s, following the lead of the French Canadian fur trader Solomon Juneau. Other early noteworthies included Byron Kilbourn and George Walker, whose names persisted in street and neighborhood names. In its early years, Milwaukee vied with Chicago as a Great Lakes port, but the coming of the railroad cemented Chicago's place as the predominant metropolis of the Middle West.
The late nineteenth century saw the arrival of a large Polish population to rival the Germans, Irish, and British who had arrived earlier; this new group left its mark on the landscape of the city's South Side, although relatively few Poles remained at the end of the twentieth century. Additions to Milwaukee's ethnic mix during that century included large Hispanic and African American populations, as well as other small groups.
Economically, the 1970s and 1980s saw the steady erosion of the industrial base that had once powered Milwaukee's economy. Established firms such as Allis-Chalmers, Allen-Bradley, Briggs and Stratton, Harley-Davidson, Milwaukee Power Tools, Pabst Brewing Company, and Schlitz Brewing Company either slashed workforces or were bought out, resulting in a painful period of adjustment. The election of John Norquist as mayor in 1988 signaled a new direction and the 1990s were a decade of rejuvenation for the appearance, if not the population, of Milwaukee. (The population declined 5 percent from 1990 to 596, 974 in 2000.) At the end of the decade, the economy was anchored by some old names (Miller Brewing, Harley-Davidson, Northwestern Mutual) and some new ones (M and I Data Services, Firstar Bank, Manpower Professional), and the metropolitan area had entered a period of slow but stable growth.
Alderman, Ralph M. From Trading Post to Metropolis: Milwaukee County's First 150 Years. Milwaukee, Wisc.: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 1987.
Gurda, John. The Making of Milwaukee. Milwaukee, Wisc.: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 1999.
Still, Bayrd. Milwaukee: The History of a City. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948.
Milwaukee (mĬlwŏk´ē), city (1990 pop. 628,088), seat of Milwaukee co., SE Wis., at the point where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers enter Lake Michigan; inc. 1846. The largest city in the state, it is a port of entry, shipping heavy cargo from the entire Midwest to world ports via the St. Lawrence Seaway, and is connected by ferry to Muskegon, Mich. It is a producer of heavy machinery and electrical equipment and a principal manufacturer of diesel and gasoline engines, tractors, and beer; Milwaukee once dominated the country's beer-brewing industry. Motorcycles, refrigeration equipment, chocolate, and electronic products are also produced.
In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette visited the site, which was then a Native American gathering and trading center. In 1795 the North West Company established a fur-trading post. Solomon Juneau, the fur trader, arrived in 1818, and in 1838 several settlements merged to form Milwaukee village. It grew as a shipping center and became famous for its numerous industries, notably brewing and meatpacking. German refugees arrived in large numbers after 1848, stimulating the city's political, economic, and social growth. The Knights of Saint Crispin foreshadowed the city's growing labor movement after the Civil War. Victor L. Berger, the Socialist leader, exerted a dominant influence there, and Daniel W. Hoan made Milwaukee known for efficient administration.
In the 1960s, Milwaukee was the scene of racial disorder and black demonstrations. Economically, the city was hit hard in the 1979–82 recession years; more than 60,000 jobs were lost in the industrial sector. Prosperity reoccurred in the late 1980s as manufacturing jobs became more prevalent, aided principally by the economic efforts of major Milwaukee companies, in areas such as the international export of tools and machinery.
Among the educational institutions are Marquette Univ., the Univ. of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch Univ., the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Attractions include the breweries, with guided tours; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Milwaukee Public Museum; a decorative arts museum and mansions open to the public; the Harley-Davidson Museum; a church by Frank Lloyd Wright; a performing arts center; a large convention center; and the water tower. The popular lakefront hosts numerous festivals, and the sizable park system includes Washington Park; Mitchell Park, with enclosed botanical gardens; Juneau Park; and Estabrook Park, with one of the city's oldest houses. Milwaukee is also home to the Brewers (National League baseball) and the Bucks (National Basketball Association).
See H. H. Anderson and F. Olson, Milwaukee: At the Gathering of the Waters (1985).
Milwaukee: Population Profile
Milwaukee: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000: 5.1%
U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported
U.S. rank in 2000: 64th (CMSA)
2003 estimate: 559,843
Percent change, 1990–2000: -5.0%
U.S. rank in 1980: 16th
U.S. rank in 1990: 17th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 25th (State rank: 1st)
Density: 6,214.3 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 230,503
American Indian and Alaska Native: 9,116
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 809
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 71,646
Percent of residents born in state: 65.2% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 47,545
Population 5 to 9 years old: 50,555
Population 10 to 14 years old: 46,688
Population 15 to 19 years old: 47,231
Population 20 to 24 years old: 51,814
Population 25 to 34 years old: 94,451
Population 35 to 44 years old: 85,792
Population 45 to 54 years old: 68,351
Population 55 to 59 years old: 21,586
Population 60 to 64 years old: 17,838
Population 65 to 74 years old: 33,015
Population 75 to 84 years old: 23,727
Population 85 years and over: 8,381
Median age: 30.6 years
Births (2002, Milwaukee County)
Total number: 14,332
Deaths (2002, Milwaukee County)
Total number: 9,022 (of which, 155 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $16,181
Median household income: $37,879
Total households: 232,312
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 32,701
$10,000 to $14,999: 18,446
$15,000 to $24,999: 37,867
$25,000 to $34,999: 35,509
$35,000 to $49,999: 40,961
$50,000 to $74,999: 39,490
$75,000 to $99,999: 16,387
$100,000 to $149,999: 7,778
$150,000 to $199,999: 1,599
$200,000 or more: 1,574
Percent of families below poverty level: 17.4% (53.2% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2001 FBI Crime Index Total: 76,100
Newspapers and Magazines
The major daily newspaper of the Greater Milwaukee area is the morning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a daily circulation of 258,000. Several other newspapers, including the Business Journal of Milwaukee, circulate biweekly or weekly.
At least 35 trade and special-interest magazines and journals are published in Milwaukee; they cover such subjects as personal improvement, religion, hobbies, the social sciences, business and finance, computers, railroads, construction and building trades, and archaeology.
Television and Radio
Seven commercial, two public, and one Christian television stations broadcast in Milwaukee. More than forty AM and FM radio stations play a wide range of music, news, and talk radio in the county. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra produces national radio broadcasts.
Media Information: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, P.O. Box 661, Milwaukee, WI 53201; telephone (414)224-2000.
City of Milwaukee home page. Available www.ci.mil.wi.us
Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.milwaukee.org
Historic Milwaukee Inc. Available www.historicmilwaukee.org
James J. Flannery Map Library. Available www.uwm.edu/Dept/GML
Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce. Available www.mmac.org
Metro Milwaukee Guide to Relocation. Available metro milwaukee.org
Milwaukee Department of City Development. Available www.milwaukeebiz.com
Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation. Available www.medconline.com
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Available www.jsonline.com
Milwaukee Public Library. Available www.mpl.org
Wisconsin Department of Commerce. Available www.commerce.state.wi.us
Buck, Diane M. and Virginia A. Palmer, Outdoor Sculpture in Milwaukee: A Cultural and Historical Guidebook (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1994)
Derleth, August William, The Wind Leans West (New York: Candlelight Press, 1969)
Leavitt, Judith Walzer, The Healthiest City: Milwaukee and the Politics of Health Reform (University of Wisconsin Press, 1996)
Milwaukee: Geography and Climate
Milwaukee: Population Profile
Milwaukee: Municipal Government
Milwaukee: Education and Research
Milwaukee: Health Care
Milwaukee: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1839 (incorporated 1846)
Head Official: Mayor Tom Barrett (since 2004)
2003 estimate: 559,843
Percent change, 1990–2000: -5.0%
U.S. rank in 1980: 16th
U.S. rank in 1990: 17th
U.S. rank in 2000: 25th (State rank: 1st)
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990–2000: 5.1%
U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported
U.S. rank in 2000: 64th (CMSA)
Area: 96.1 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 581.2 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 46.8° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 32 inches of rain; 45 inches of snow
Major Economic Sectors: Services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (February 2005)
Per Capita Income: $16,181 (1999)
2001 FBI Crime Index Total: 76,100
Major Colleges and Universities: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Marquette University
Daily Newspapers: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel