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Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Barstow Street
Barstow Street
Motto: "Voici l'eau claire!"
("Here is clear water!")
Location within the state of Wisconsin.
Location within the state of Wisconsin.
Location within Eau Claire County (pink-shaded portion is within Chippewa County).
Location within Eau Claire County (pink-shaded portion is within Chippewa County).
Country United States
State Wisconsin
Counties Eau Claire, Chippewa
 • City 34.14 sq mi (88.42 km2)
 • Land 32.04 sq mi (82.98 km2)
 • Water 2.10 sq mi (5.44 km2)  6.15%
Elevation 787 ft (240 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 65,883
 • Estimate (2012) 66,966
 • Density 2,056.3/sq mi (793.9/km2)
 • Metro 161,151
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip code 54701-54703
Area code(s) 715 & 534
FIPS code 55-22300
GNIS feature ID 1583124
Page text.

Eau Claire (/ˈklɛər/) is a city in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Located almost entirely in Eau Claire County, for which it is the county seat, the city had a population of 65,883 at the 2010 census, making it the state's ninth-largest city. Eau Claire is the principal city of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a part of the Eau Claire-Menomonie Combined Statistical Area.

Name origin

Eau Claire took its name from Eau Claire County. "Eau Claire" is the singular form of the original French name, "Eaux Claires", meaning "Clear Waters", for the Eau Claire River. According to local legend, the river was so named because early French explorers journeying down the rain-muddied Chippewa River, happened upon the Eau Claire River, excitedly exclaiming "Voici l'eau claire!" ("Here [is] clear water!"), the city motto, which appears on the city seal. The name is pronounced as if it were spelled "O'Clare".


Eau Claire Wisconsin-Water Street Looking East 2006-2
Water Street historic district

Eau Claire is located at 44°49′N 91°30′W / 44.817°N 91.5°W / 44.817; -91.5, (44.8146, −91.4927) approximately 90 miles (145 km) east of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The city is located on the northern fringes of the Driftless Zone.

The city was founded near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers as three separate settlements. The main section of downtown is on the site of the original village, where Stephen McCann, in partnership with J. C. Thomas, put up three buildings in 1845. Although these structures were erected to establish a claim to the land they stood on, the McCann family moved into one of them and became the first permanent settlers. West Eau Claire, founded in 1856, was across the river near the present-day county courthouse, and incorporated in 1872. Between a mile and a half and two miles downstream, the Daniel Shaw & Co. lumber company founded Shawtown, which was annexed by the 1930s. By the 1950s, the entire city had spread far enough to the east to adjoin Altoona.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 34.14 square miles (88.42 km2), of which 32.04 square miles (82.98 km2) is land and 2.10 square miles (5.44 km2) is water.

The terrain of the city is characterized by the river valleys, with steep slopes leading from the center to the eastern and southern sections of the city. The lands into which the urban area is currently expanding are increasingly hilly.

There are two lakes in the city, Dells Pond, and Half Moon Lake. Dells Pond is a reservoir created by a hydroelectric dam, and was formerly used as a holding pool for logs. Half Moon Lake is an oxbow lake created as part of the former course of the Chippewa River.

Climate data for Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Eau Claire Regional), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 54
Average high °F (°C) 23.4
Average low °F (°C) 5.4
Record low °F (°C) −45
Precipitation inches (mm) .94
Snowfall inches (cm) 10.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.7 8.1 9.3 11.1 12.2 12.1 11.4 10.2 11.3 10.1 9.2 10.1 124.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.4 6.9 4.9 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 .6 4.0 7.7 34.6
Source: NOAA (extremes 1949–present),


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,293
1880 10,119 341.3%
1890 17,415 72.1%
1900 17,517 0.6%
1910 18,310 4.5%
1920 20,906 14.2%
1930 26,287 25.7%
1940 30,745 17.0%
1950 36,058 17.3%
1960 37,987 5.3%
1970 44,619 17.5%
1980 51,509 15.4%
1990 56,856 10.4%
2000 61,704 8.5%
2010 65,883 6.8%
Est. 2015 67,778 2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $36,399, and the median income for a family was $49,320. Males had a median income of $32,503 versus $23,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,230. About 5.5% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

As of the most recent census, the Eau Claire County portion had a population of 63,902 inhabitants, while the Chippewa County portion was 1,981 inhabitants.

2010 census

Eau Claire - Free Masons Building 2005
The Eau Claire Masonic Center is on the National Register of Historic Places.

As of the census of 2010, there were 65,883 people, 26,803 households, and 14,293 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,056.3 inhabitants per square mile (793.9/km2). There were 28,134 housing units at an average density of 878.1 per square mile (339.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.4% White, 1.1% African American, 0.5% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 26,803 households of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.7% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.89.

The median age in the city was 29.8 years. 19.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 22.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.2% were from 25 to 44; 21.7% were from 45 to 64; and 11.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.

As of 2010, there were 1,981 persons within city limits in Chippewa County and 63,902 in Eau Claire County for a total of 65,883.

Metropolitan area

Together with surrounding communities, the Eau Claire metropolitan area is home to 114,483 people, according to the 2000 census. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Eau Claire Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties (composite 2000 population: 148,337). Together with the Menomonie Micropolitan Statistical Area (which includes all of Dunn County) to the west, the Eau Claire metropolitan area, forms the Census Bureau's Eau Claire-Menomonie Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a consolidated 2000 population of 188,195. 2004 population estimates place the two-county Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls metropolitan population at 155,680, and the expanded Eau Claire-Menomonie CMSA population at 197,417.

Hmong population

See also: Hmong in Wisconsin

As of 2008, Hmong Americans were the largest ethnic minority in Eau Claire. Jenna Christian, Pa Sia Low Moua, and Ingolf Vogeler, the authors of "The Cultural Landscape of the Hmong in Eau Claire, Wisconsin," wrote that the Hmong are also the city's "most visible ethnic group".

In 2008 there were 1,566 Hmong people in Eau Claire County, While the Hmong population is numerically smaller in Eau Claire County compared to Milwaukee, the Hmong have a higher percentage of the population in Eau Claire County, and Christian, Moua, and Vogeler wrote that "the Hmong stand out more singularly as an ethnic minority than they do in metropolitan areas like Milwaukee, which is already more racially and culturally diverse." The majority of the county's Hmong live in the city of Eau Claire. In select Eau Claire neighborhoods, up to 30% of the residents are Hmong.

As of 2008, 80% of the vendors at the local farmers' market are Hmong.



Eau Claire is served by the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (KEAU).

Mass transit

  • Eau Claire Transit bus lines


Eau Claire is served by both the Greyhound bus line (Milwaukee to Minneapolis, via I-94), and Jefferson Lines Bus service (Green Bay to Minneapolis, via Hwy 29 to I-94).

Major highways

  • I-94.svg Interstate 94
  • US 12.svg U.S. Route 12 ("Clairemont Avenue")
  • US 53.svg U.S. Route 53 ("The Bypass")
  • Business plate.svg US 53.svg Business US-53 ("Hastings Way")
  • WIS 29.svg Highway 29 (Bypasses Eau Claire to the north)
  • WIS 37.svg Highway 37 ("Hendrickson Drive")
  • WIS 85.svg Highway 85 (Terminates on Wis. 37 just outside Eau Claire)
  • WIS 93.svg Highway 93
  • WIS 124.svg Highway 124 (Foreshortened in 2006, now ends in neighboring Lake Hallie)
  • WIS 312.svg Highway 312 (Signed as, and known locally as, the "North Crossing")


Eau Claire is located on freight rail lines owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, formerly owned by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway (Omaha Road), and later part of the Chicago and North Western Railway. C&NW operated passenger trains from Chicago through Eau Claire to the Twin Cities area until 1963 when the Twin Cities 400 ended service. Passenger rail service to Eau Claire is seen as critical by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and they plan to return trains to the city by 2030.


The Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire is headquartered in the city. Its mother church is Christ Church Cathedral. The city is also located within the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse and is home to Sacred Heart Church and St. Patrick's Church. Additionally, Community House, First Congregational Church, First Methodist Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd are located in Eau Claire.

TS 2006
Temple Sholom synagogue in Eau Claire
Christ Church Cathedral in Eau Claire

Eau Claire is home to several religious denominations:

  • Apostolic Faith – 1 congregation
  • Assemblies of God – 2 congregations
  • Baptist – 8 churches variously unaffiliated (including 1 SBC congregation)
  • Catholic – 5 parishes
  • Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science) – 1 congregation
  • Church of Christ and a non-institutional congregations
  • Episcopalian – 1 congregation (The Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire has its see in Eau Claire.)
  • Hmong Christian Alliance – 1 congregation
  • Islam – 1 mosque located in Altoona, WI – The Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin Mosque or Altoona Masjid
  • Jehovah's Witness – 2 congregations (both of which share the same Kingdom Hall)
  • Judaism – 1 synagogue
  • Lutheran – about 20 congregations representing the following:
    • Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
    • Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America
    • Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS)
    • Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC)
    • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
  • Methodist – 4 congregations (one of which is located in nearby Altoona)
    • Lake Street United Methodist Church
  • Mennonite Church USA – 1 congregation meeting two Sundays per month
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 1 congregation
  • Nazarene – 1 congregation
  • Pentecostal – about 10 variously affiliated congregations
  • Presbyterianism – 2 congregations
  • Society of Friends (Quakers) – 1 congregation
  • Salvation Army – 1 congregation
  • Unitarian Universalist – 1 congregation
  • United Church of Christ – 3 congregations
  • Unity School of Christianity – 1 congregation
  • Wesleyan Church – 1 congregation


The lit tennis courts in Owen Park are popular with university students.

There are several large parks in the city: Owen Park, along the Chippewa River, home to a large bandshell where open-air concerts are held throughout the summer; Putnam Park, which follows the course of Putnam Creek and Little Niagara Creek east from the UWEC campus; Carson Park, situated in the middle of an oxbow lake; and Phoenix Park on the site of the old Phoenix Steel plant at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa River. Phoenix Park is the host of a weekly farmers market and open-air concerts during summer months. Riverview Park is also a common summer swimming destination, as well as one of the local boat landings. This park includes picnicking areas and grills, as well as public restrooms.

The City of Eau Claire also operates Fairfax public pool, and Hobbs Municipal Ice Center, an indoor ice center.

Eau Claire is at the head of the Chippewa River State Trail, a biking and recreation trail that follows the lower course of the Chippewa River.


America's Promise named the city as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2007. Eau Claire was among the first Tree Cities in Wisconsin, having been recognized as such since 1980.

Sister cities

Eau Claire is sistered with the following towns:

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