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Manitowoc, Wisconsin facts for kids

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Manitowoc River, near where it enters Lake Michigan, reflecting the skyline of downtown Manitowoc, with the U.S. 10 highway bridge at left.
Manitowoc River, near where it enters Lake Michigan, reflecting the skyline of downtown Manitowoc, with the U.S. 10 highway bridge at left.
Official seal of Manitowoc
Wisconsin's Maritime Capital, Clipper City, The Port City, Manty.
Location of Manitowoc in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Location of Manitowoc in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Manitowoc is located in Wisconsin
Location in Wisconsin
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
County Manitowoc
 • Total 18.14 sq mi (46.98 km2)
 • Land 17.78 sq mi (46.05 km2)
 • Water 0.36 sq mi (0.93 km2)
 • Total 34,626
 • Density 1,908.8/sq mi (737.04/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 920
FIPS code 55-48500
Interstates I-43 (WI).svg
U.S. Routes US 10.svg US 151.svg

Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2020 census, Manitowoc had a population of 34,626, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities.


Purported to mean dwelling of the great spirit, Manitowoc derived its name from either the Anishinaabe language word manidoowaak(wag), meaning spirit-spawn(s), or manidoowaak(oog), meaning spirit-wood(s). In 1838, an act of the Territorial Legislature separated Manitowoc County from Brown County, keeping the native name for the region.

In 1820, Matthew Stanley and his wife were the first to settle in the area. . In 1835, President Andrew Jackson authorized land sales for the region, drawing the interest of land speculators. William Jones and Louis Fizette were the two first recorded buyers on August 3, 1835, with the majority of the land being procured by the Chicago firm Jones, King, & Co. Benjamin Jones, brother of William, took the Wisconsin property as his share and is considered the founder of Manitowoc. Early immigrant groups included Germans, Norwegians, British, Irish, and Canadians. The first school in Manitowoc was held in the Jones warehouse, with S. M. Peake instructing the twelve children of the community. The first religious organization in the county, St. James' Episcopal Church, first met in 1841. Manitowoc was chartered as a village on March 6, 1851 and on March 12, 1870 was incorporated as a city.

In 1847, Joseph Edwards built the first schooner in the area, the Citizen, a modest precursor to the shipbuilding industry that produced schooners and clippers used for fishing and trading in the Great Lakes and beyond the St. Lawrence River. In addition, landing craft, tankers and submarines became the local contributions to U.S. efforts in World War II.

A metal ring marks the location of the Sputnik 4 impact

On September 5, 1962, a 20-pound (9.1 kg) piece of the seven-ton Sputnik 4 crashed on North 8th Street. Sputnik 4 was a USSR satellite, part of the Sputnik program and a test-flight of the Vostok spacecraft that would be used for the first human spaceflight. It was launched on May 15, 1960. A bug in the guidance system had pointed the capsule in the wrong direction, so instead of dropping into the atmosphere the satellite moved into a higher orbit. It re-entered the atmosphere on or about September 5, 1962. A cast was made from the original piece before the Soviets claimed it, and the cast was displayed at the Rahr West Art Museum. A customer in a nearby art gallery jokingly suggested that the city should hold a festival to celebrate the crash. The city held the first Sputnikfest in 2008, which was organized by the head of both museums.

Manitowoc is home to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, and is one endpoint of the ferry route of the SS Badger, which connects U.S. Route 10 to Ludington, Michigan.

Since the late 1990s, several new shopping centers have opened in the city, mostly on the southwest side of the city along Interstate 43, including the new Harbor Town Center shopping complex. The downtown area has also seen a resurgence, with several new restaurants opening, and the recent announcement of new $100,000+ condominiums on the Manitowoc River, along with a completion of the riverwalk trail. The bulk of the redevelopment in the city has been undertaken by the public/private partnership the Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation.

President Obama visited Manitowoc on January 26, 2011, the day after his first State of the Union speech. He spoke to workers at Orion Energy, a manufacturer of solar technology, and praised Manitowoc for reinventing itself after the departure of Mirro Aluminum Company in 2003.


Manitowoc Harbor
The Manitowoc River empties into Lake Michigan.
Manitowoc's North pier lighthouse
The lighthouse on Manitowoc's North pier

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.99 square miles (46.59 km2), of which 17.63 square miles (45.66 km2) is land and 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2) is water.

The city is located at 44°5′47″N 87°40′30″W / 44.09639°N 87.67500°W / 44.09639; -87.67500, on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River.

The nearest other cities are Green Bay, 40 miles (64 km) away, Sheboygan 28 miles (45 km) away, Appleton 47 miles (76 km) away, and Milwaukee 80 miles (130 km) away. Together with Two Rivers and the surrounding towns, the Manitowoc micropolitan area was, according to the 2000 census, home to 52,197 people. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Manitowoc Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Manitowoc County (2000 population: 82,887).


Manitowoc has a humid continental climate. Due to Manitowoc's proximity to Lake Michigan its climate is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter to most nearby cities—cities like Green Bay and Appleton, which are farther away from Lake Michigan, hence the local phrase, "cooler by the lake". Manitowoc has a yearly average high of 52 °F (11 °C) and a yearly average low of 38.5 °F (4 °C). Manitowoc also has an extreme high and extreme low of 101 °F (38 °C) and −27 °F (−33 °C), respectively. The city receives an average of 31.17 in (792 mm) of precipitation every year, in the form of rain and snow, with rain being more prevalent in months April–November, and snow being more prevalent in months December–March. Precipitation is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, with the wettest month being August, with 3.58 in (91 mm) of precipitation, and the driest month being February, with 1.38 in (35 mm) of precipitation.

Climate data for Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 55
Average high °F (°C) 26
Average low °F (°C) 14
Record low °F (°C) -26
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.77
Source #1: Temperatures
Source #2: Precipitation


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,059
1870 5,168 68.9%
1880 6,367 23.2%
1890 7,710 21.1%
1900 11,786 52.9%
1910 13,027 10.5%
1920 17,563 34.8%
1930 22,963 30.7%
1940 24,404 6.3%
1950 27,598 13.1%
1960 32,275 16.9%
1970 33,430 3.6%
1980 32,547 −2.6%
1990 32,520 −0.1%
2000 34,053 4.7%
2010 33,736 −0.9%
2020 34,626 2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census 2020

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 33,736 people, 14,623 households, and 8,600 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,913.6 inhabitants per square mile (738.8/km2). There were 15,955 housing units at an average density of 905.0 per square mile (349.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.9% White, 1.0% African American, 0.6% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 2.1% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.0% of the population.

There were 14,623 households, of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.5% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.2% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.91.

The median age in the city was 41.7 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.7% were from 25 to 44; 27.2% were from 45 to 64; and 18.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.


The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity have their mother house in Manitowoc.

In 2005 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay merged several Catholic parishes in the city into one parish, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, with a 4-man pastoral team led by Father Dan Felton. In 2005, the Herald Times Reporter reported that the city has roughly 22,000 Roman Catholics.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is a significant religion in the city with four large churches and Manitowoc Lutheran High School. Two additional Wisconsin Synod churches are outside the city limits with a Manitowoc address.

St. James' is an historic Episcopal church in the city.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a meetinghouse in Manitowoc.

Points of interest

Capitol Civic Centre
  • The Rahr West Art Museum is housed in a 19th-century mansion near downtown Manitowoc. Donated by the Rahr family in 1941 for use as a community civic art center, it has been since expanded numerous times. The Museum currently houses art ranging from the 15th–21st centuries, with paintings, sculptures, and a preserved Victorian home in its possession.
Wisconsin Maritime Museum
  • The Wisconsin Maritime Museum was founded in 1970 as the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, and has since grown to be one of the largest nautical museums in the country; it has recently been granted affiliation status with the Smithsonian. It has over 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) of interactive and standing exhibits exploring maritime history with a particular emphasis on the Great Lakes. Perhaps the Museum's crown jewel however is the World War II era USS Cobia, an authentic combat submarine similar to those built in Manitowoc during the war. There are daily tours of the vessel, which is moored in Manitowoc's harbor, allowing visitors a look at Manitowoc's role in the war and building 28 submarines for the U.S. Navy.
  • The Lincoln Park Zoo is a year-round zoo and is part of the Manitowoc Parks and Recreation Department. The Lincoln Park Zoo has tours and educational programs available for small and large groups.


S.S. Badger leaving port in Manitowoc

Public transportation in the city been provided by Maritime Metro Transit since 1978, covering both Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. MMT currently has a fleet of 12 buses serving over 40 stops on 8 routes.

Manitowoc is the western port for the S.S. Badger ferry, that crosses Lake Michigan to Ludington, Michigan. The ferry ride is part of the route of U.S. Route 10.

The Manitowoc Mariners Trail is a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) paved recreational trail running along the shore of Lake Michigan between the cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin.



Manitowoc County Airport (KMTW) serves the city and surrounding communities.


Manitowoc Lutheran High School

Manitowoc public schools are administered by the Manitowoc Public School District. High schools within the city include:

  • Lincoln High School
  • Roncalli High School
  • Manitowoc Lutheran High School


The city has three colleges and universities within its limits, including:

  • Holy Family College, a Catholic school (closed in 2020)
  • University of Wisconsin–Manitowoc
  • Lakeshore Technical College

Notable people

  • James Sibree Anderson, Wisconsin State Representative
  • George W. Barker, U.S. Marshal for Vermont, Judge of Maniwitoc County, Wisconsin
  • Henry Baetz, Treasurer of Wisconsin
  • John A. Bentley, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Charlie Berens, American comedian and host of the Manitowoc Minute
  • Garey Bies, Wisconsin State Representative, born in Manitowoc
  • Dale Bolle, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Guila Bustabo, violinist, born in Manitowoc
  • Matt Christman, co-host of Chapo Trap House
  • Gerald W. Clusen, U.S. Navy admiral
  • Charles Daellenbach, musician, founder of Grammy Award-winning Canadian Brass, graduate of Lincoln High School
  • Benjamin W. Diederich, Wisconsin State Representative
  • E. H. Ellis, former mayor of Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Charles E. Estabrook, Wisconsin Attorney General
  • Peter Fanta, U.S. Navy admiral
  • Amy Fote, principal dancer with Houston ballet, born and raised in Manitowoc
  • Doug Free, offensive lineman for NFL Dallas Cowboys, 2002 graduate of Lincoln High
  • Raymond Gorte, Member of the National Academy of Engineering
  • Romy Gosz, Popular Midwest Polka Musician, Inducted in the International Polka Hall of Fame and Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame
  • Carl Hansen, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Donald K. Helgeson, Wisconsin State Representative
  • William H. Hemschemeyer, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Solomon S. Huebner, college professor
  • Peter Johnston, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Edgar A. Jonas, U.S. Representative from Illinois
  • M. W. Kalaher, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Eugene S. Kaufman, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Norman Knudson, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Erik Kowalski, Musician
  • Ardis Krainik, opera singer (1928–1997)
  • Francis J. Lallensack, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Lawrence W. Ledvina, Wisconsin State Representative and lawyer
  • Frederic Ives Lord, airman (Spanish Civil War)
  • Stoney McGlynn, MLB player.
  • Andrew Miller, Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Robert Naumann, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Garth Neustadter, Emmy Award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist
  • William Henry Phipps, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Franz Pieper, President of Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
  • Reinhardt Rahr, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Alexander W. Randall, 1886-89 Postmaster General of United States
  • Samuel W. Randolph, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Joseph Rankin, U.S. Representative 1883-86
  • Karl L. Rankin, U.S. diplomat
  • Paula J. Raschke-Lind, Illinois State Representative
  • George Reed, politician
  • Angus B. Rothwell, Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Charles Eberhard Salomon, Union Army general
  • Frederick Salomon, Union Army general
  • Henry Schadeberg, U.S. Representative.
  • Emil P. Scheibe, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Raymond J. Scheuer, Wisconsin State Assembyman
  • Carl Schmidt, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Charles Schuette, Wisconsin State Representative
  • John Schuette, Wisconsin State Senator
  • William L. Schultz, circus performer, teacher, writer
  • Wilbur Schwandt, songwriter, "Dream a Little Dream of Me"
  • Reuben D. Smart, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Thorvald Solberg (1852–1949), first Register of Copyrights in United States Copyright Office
  • Merta Sterling, actress
  • Sheri Swokowski, Army officer and transgender rights activist
  • Robert Tills, United States Navy, killed in Philippines during World War II
  • Susan Bowers Vergeront, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Joseph Vilas, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Henry Vits, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Otto A. Vogel, Wisconsin State Representative
  • R. T. Wallen, artist, born in Manitowoc and attended Lincoln High School
  • Pat Willis, judge, born in Manitowoc
  • Joseph Willott, Jr., Wisconsin State Representative
  • Walter Wittman, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Francis A. Yindra, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Bob Ziegelbauer, Wisconsin State Representative and current County Executive

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