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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
City
City of Milwaukee
Clockwise from top left: Milwaukee skyline and Lake Michigan, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Central Library, Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, Marquette Hall at Marquette University, Milwaukee City Hall, Miller Park, and the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
Clockwise from top left: Milwaukee skyline and Lake Michigan, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Central Library, Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, Marquette Hall at Marquette University, Milwaukee City Hall, Miller Park, and the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Flag
Official seal of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Seal
Official logo of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Logo
Nickname(s): Cream City, Brew City, Beer City, Brew Town, Beertown, Miltown, The Mil, MKE, The City of Festivals, Deutsch-Athen (German Athens)
Location of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County and in the state of Wisconsin
Location of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County and in the state of Wisconsin
Country United States of America
State Wisconsin
Counties Milwaukee, Washington, Waukesha
Incorporated January 31, 1846; 173 years ago (1846-01-31)
Area
 • City 96.80 sq mi (250.71 km2)
 • Land 96.12 sq mi (248.95 km2)
 • Water 0.68 sq mi (1.76 km2)
Elevation 617 ft (188 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 594,833
 • Estimate (2015) 600,155
 • Rank

US: 31st

WI: 1st
 • Density 6,188.4/sq mi (2,389.4/km2)
 • Urban 1,376,476 (US: 35th)
 • Metro 1,572,245 (US: 39th)
 • CSA 2,043,904 (US: 29th)
Demonym(s) Milwaukeean
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip code 532XX
Area code(s) 414
FIPS code 55-53000
GNIS feature ID 1577901
Major airport General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
Website city.milwaukee.gov

Milwaukee (/mɪlˈwɔːk/, /ˈmwɔːki/) is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States. The county seat of Milwaukee County, it is on Lake Michigan's western shore. Milwaukee's estimated population in 2015 was 600,155. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee–Racine–Waukesha Metropolitan Area with an estimated population of 2,046,692 as of 2015. Ranked by estimated 2014 population, Milwaukee is the 31st largest city in the United States.

The first Europeans to pass through the area were French Catholic missionaries and fur traders. In 1818, the French Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau settled in the area, and in 1846 Juneau's town combined with two neighboring towns to incorporate as the city of Milwaukee. Large numbers of German immigrants helped increase the city's population during the 1840s, with Poles and other immigrants arriving in the following decades.

Known for its brewing traditions, Milwaukee is currently experiencing its largest construction boom since the 1960s. Major new additions to the city in the past two decades include the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the Wisconsin Center, Miller Park, an expansion to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Pier Wisconsin, as well as major renovations to the UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena, while the under-construction Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center is scheduled to open in 2018. In addition, many new skyscrapers, condos, lofts and apartments have been built in neighborhoods on and near the lakefront and riverbanks.

History

American Indian Milwaukee

The first recorded inhabitants of the Milwaukee area are the Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe (all Algic/Algonquian peoples) and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) (a Siouan people) Native American tribes. Many of these people had lived around Green Bay before migrating to the Milwaukee area around the time of European contact.

In the second half of the 18th century, the Indians at Milwaukee played a role in all the major wars on the American continent. During the French and Indian War, a group of "Ojibwas and Pottawattamies from the far [Lake] Michigan" (i.e., the area from Milwaukee to Green Bay) joined the French-Canadian Daniel Liénard de Beaujeu at the Battle of the Monongahela. In the American Revolutionary War, the Indians around Milwaukee were some of the few Indians who remained loyal to the American cause throughout the Revolution.

After American independence, the Indians fought the United States in the Northwest Indian War as part of the Council of Three Fires. During the War of 1812, Indians held a council in Milwaukee in June 1812, which resulted in their decision to attack Chicago. This resulted in the Battle of Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812, the only known armed conflict in the Chicago area. The War of 1812 did not end well for the Indians, and after the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Indians in Milwaukee signed their final treaty with the United States in Chicago in 1833. This paved the way for American settlement.

Milwaukee since European settlement

Solomon Juneau
Statue of Solomon Juneau, who helped establish the city of Milwaukee

Europeans had arrived in the Milwaukee area prior to the 1833 Treaty of Chicago. French missionaries and traders first passed through the area in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Alexis Laframboise, in 1785, coming from Michilimackinac (now in Michigan) settled a trading post; therefore, he is the first European descent resident of the Milwaukee region. The word "Milwaukee" may come from the Potawatomi language minwaking, or Ojibwe language ominowakiing, "Gathering place [by the water]". Early explorers called the Milwaukee River and surrounding lands various names: Melleorki, Milwacky, Mahn-a-waukie, Milwarck, and Milwaucki. For many years, printed records gave the name as "Milwaukie". One story of Milwaukee's name says,

[O]ne day during the thirties of the last century [1800s] a newspaper calmly changed the name to Milwaukee, and Milwaukee it has remained until this day.

The spelling "Milwaukie" lives on in Milwaukie, Oregon, named after the Wisconsin city in 1847, before the current spelling was universally accepted.

Milwaukee has three "founding fathers": Solomon Juneau, Byron Kilbourn, and George H. Walker. Solomon Juneau was the first of the three to come to the area, in 1818. He was not the first European settler (Alexis Laframboise settled a trading post in 1785) but founded a town called Juneau's Side, or Juneautown, that began attracting more settlers. In competition with Juneau, Byron Kilbourn established Kilbourntown west of the Milwaukee River and made sure the streets running toward the river did not join with those on the east side. This accounts for the large number of angled bridges that still exist in Milwaukee today. Further, Kilbourn distributed maps of the area which only showed Kilbourntown, implying Juneautown did not exist or the river's east side was uninhabited and thus undesirable. The third prominent builder was George H. Walker. He claimed land to the south of the Milwaukee River, along with Juneautown, where he built a log house in 1834. This area grew and became known as Walker's Point.

The first large wave of settlement to the areas that would later become Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee began in 1835. Early that year it became known Juneau and Kilbourn intended to lay out competing town-sites and by the years' end both had purchased their lands from the government and made their first sales. There were perhaps 100 new settlers in this year, mostly from New England and other Eastern States. On September 17, 1835, the first election was held in Milwaukee; the number of votes cast was 39.

By 1840, the three towns had grown quite a bit, along with their rivalries. There were intense battles between the towns, mainly Juneautown and Kilbourntown, which culminated with the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. Following the Bridge War, it was decided the best course of action was to officially unite the towns. So, on January 31, 1846, they combined to incorporate as the City of Milwaukee and elected Solomon Juneau as Milwaukee's first mayor.

Milwaukee birdseye map by Bailey (1872). loc call no g4124m-pm010450
Illustrated map of Milwaukee in 1872

Milwaukee began to grow as a city as high numbers of immigrants, mainly German, made their way to Wisconsin during the 1840s and 1850s. Scholars classify German immigration to the United States in three major waves, and Wisconsin received a significant number of immigrants from all three. The first wave from 1845 to 1855 consisted mainly of people from Southwestern Germany, the second wave from 1865 to 1873 concerned primarily Northwestern Germany, while the third wave from 1880 to 1893 came from Northeastern Germany. In the 1840s, the number of people who left German-speaking lands was 385,434, in the 1850s it reached 976,072, and an all-time high of 1.4 million emigrated in the 1880s. In 1890, the 2.78 million first-generation German Americans represented the second largest foreign-born group in the United States. Of all those who left the German lands between 1835 and 1910, 90 percent went to the United States, most of them traveling to the Mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest.

By 1900 34 percent of Milwaukee's population was of German background. The largest number of German immigrants to Milwaukee came from Prussia, followed by Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and Hesse-Darmstadt. Milwaukee gained its reputation for the most German of American cities not just from the large number of German immigrants it received, but the sense of community which the immigrants established there.

Most German immigrants came to Wisconsin in search of inexpensive farmland. However, immigration began to change in character and size in the late 1840s and early 1850s, due to the 1848 revolutionary movements in Europe. After 1848, hopes for a united Germany had failed, and revolutionary and radical Germans, known as the "Forty-Eighters", turned their attention to the United States. One of the most famous "liberal revolutionaries" of 1848 was Carl Schurz, who explained why he came to Milwaukee in 1854, "It is true, similar things [cultural events and societies] were done in other cities where the Forty-eighters [sic] had congregated. But so far as I know, nowhere did their influence so quickly impress itself upon the whole social atmosphere as in 'German Athens of America' as Milwaukee was called at the time."

Schurz was referring to the various clubs and societies Germans developed in Milwaukee. The pattern of German immigrants to settle near each other encouraged the continuation of German lifestyle and customs. This resulted in German language organizations that encompassed all aspects of life; for example, singing societies and gymnastics clubs. Germans also made a lasting impact on the American school system. Kindergarten was created as a pre-school for children, and sports programs of all levels, as well as music and art were incorporated as elements of the regular school curriculum. These ideas were first introduced by radical-democratic German groups, such as the Socialist Turner Societies, known today as the American Turners. Specifically in Milwaukee, the American Turners established its own Normal College for teachers of physical education and a German-English Academy.

Milwaukee's German element is still strongly present today. The city celebrates its German culture by annually hosting a German Fest in July and an Oktoberfest in October. Milwaukee boasts a number of German restaurants, as well as a traditional German beer hall. Even the German language is not lost, as a German language immersion school is offered for children in grades K-5. Germans were, and still are, an important component of life in Wisconsin and Milwaukee.

Lake Front Depot 1898 LOC ds.00203
Milwaukee's Lake Front Depot in 1898

Although the German presence in Milwaukee after the Civil War remained strong, other groups made their way to the city. Foremost among these were Polish immigrants. The Poles had many reasons for leaving their homeland, mainly poverty and political oppression. Because Milwaukee offered the Polish immigrants an abundance of low-paying entry level jobs, it became one of the largest Polish settlements in the USA.

Flickr - …trialsanderrors - Wisconsin Street, Milwaukee, 1900
Wisconsin Street, Milwaukee, 1900

For many residents, Milwaukee's South Side is synonymous with the Polish community which settled here. The group's proud ethnicity maintained a high profile here for decades and it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the families began to disperse to the southern suburbs.

By 1850, there were seventy-five Poles in Milwaukee County and the US Census shows they had a variety of occupations: grocers, blacksmiths, tavernkeepers, coopers, butchers, broommakers, shoemakers, draymen, laborers, and farmers. Three distinct Polish communities evolved in Milwaukee, with the majority settling in the area south of Greenfield Avenue. Milwaukee County's Polish population of 30,000 in 1890 rose to 100,000 by 1915. Poles historically have had a strong national cultural and social identity, maintained through the Catholic Church. A view of Milwaukee's South Side skyline is replete with the steeples of the many churches these immigrants built that are still vital centers of the community.

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church and the surrounding neighborhood was the center of Polish life in Milwaukee. As the Polish community surrounding St. Stanislaus continued to grow, Mitchell Street became known as the "Polish Grand Avenue". As Mitchell Street grew denser, the Polish population started moving south to the Lincoln Village neighborhood, home to the Basilica of St. Josaphat and Kosciuszko Park. Other Polish communities started on the east side of Milwaukee and Jones Island, a major commercial fishing center settled mostly by Poles from the Baltic Sea.

Milwaukee has the fifth-largest Polish population in the U.S. at 45,467, ranking behind New York City (211,203), Chicago (165,784), Los Angeles (60,316) and Philadelphia (52,648). The city holds Polish Fest, an annual celebration of Polish culture and cuisine.

In addition to the Germans and Poles, Milwaukee received a large influx of other European immigrants from Lithuania, Italy, Ireland, France, Russia, Bohemia and Sweden, which included Jews, Lutherans, and Catholics. Italian Americans number in the city at 16,992 but, in Milwaukee County they number at 38,286. The largest Italian American festival, Festa Italiana is held in the city. By 1910, Milwaukee shared the distinction with New York City of having the largest percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States. In 1910, whites represented 99.7% of the city's total population of 373 857. Milwaukee has a strong Greek Orthodox Community, many of whom attend the Greek Orthodox Church on Milwaukee's northwest side, designed by Wisconsin-born architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Milwaukee has a sizable Croatian population with Croatian churches and their own historic and successful soccer club The Croatian Eagles at the 30-acre Croatian Park in Franklin, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee also has a large Serbian population with Serbian restaurants, a Serbian K-8 School, Serbian churches along with an American Serb Hall. The American Serb Hall in Milwaukee is known for its Friday fish fries and popular events. Many U.S. presidents have visited Milwaukee's Serb Hall in the past. The Bosnian population is growing in Milwaukee as well due to the recent migration after the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During this time, a small community of African Americans who emigrated from the South formed a community that would come to be known as Bronzeville. As industry boomed, the African-American influence grew in Milwaukee.

By 1925, around 9,000 Mexican Americans lived in Milwaukee, but the Great Depression forced many of them to move back home. In the 1950s, the Hispanic community was beginning to emerge. They arrived for jobs, filling positions in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. During this time there were labor shortages due to the immigration laws that restricted Europeans from immigrating to the United States. Additionally, strikes contributed to the labor shortages.

During the first sixty years of the 20th century, Milwaukee was the major city in which the Socialist Party of America earned the highest votes. Milwaukee elected three mayors who ran on the ticket of the Socialist Party: Emil Seidel (1910–1912), Daniel Hoan (1916–1940), and Frank Zeidler (1948–1960). Often referred to as "Sewer Socialists", the Milwaukee Socialists were characterized by their practical approach to government and labor.

In 2012, Milwaukee was listed as a gamma global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Historic neighborhoods

Third Ward MKEa
The historic Third Ward

In 1892, Whitefish Bay, South Milwaukee, and Wauwatosa were incorporated. They were followed by Cudahy (1895), North Milwaukee (1897) and East Milwaukee, later known as Shorewood, in 1900. In the early 20th century West Allis (1902), and West Milwaukee (1906) were added, which completed the first generation of "inner-ring" suburbs.

In the 1920s Chicago gangster activity came north to Milwaukee during the Prohibition era. Al Capone, noted Chicago mobster, owned a home in the Milwaukee suburb Brookfield, where moonshine was made. The house still stands on a street named after Capone.

By 1960, Milwaukee had grown to become one of the largest cities in the United States. Its population peaked at 741,324. In 1960, the Census Bureau reported city's population as 8.4% black and 91.1% white.

By the late 1960s, Milwaukee's population had started to decline due to white flight Milwaukee had a population of 636,212 by 1980, while the population of the metropolitan area increased. Milwaukee avoided the severe declines of its fellow "rust belt" cities due to its large immigrant population and historic neighborhoods.

Since the 1980s, the city has begun to make strides in improving its economy, neighborhoods, and image, resulting in the revitalization of neighborhoods such as the Historic Third Ward, Lincoln Village, the East Side, and more recently Walker's Point and Bay View, along with attracting new businesses to its downtown area. These efforts have substantially slowed the population decline and has stabilized many parts of Milwaukee.

Milwaukee's European history is evident today. Largely through its efforts to preserve its history, in 2006 Milwaukee was named one of the "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In 2010, the Census Bureau released revised population numbers for Milwaukee that showed the city gained population, growing by 1.3%, between 2000 and 2009. This was the first population increase the city of Milwaukee has seen since the 1960 census.

Historic Milwaukee walking tours provide a guided tour of Milwaukee's historic districts, including topics on Milwaukee's architectural heritage, its glass skywalk system, and the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

Milwaukee 05741u
Panorama map of Milwaukee, with a view of the City Hall tower, c. 1898

Geography

Milwaukee lies along the shores and bluffs of Lake Michigan at the confluence of three rivers: the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Milwaukee. Smaller rivers, such as the Root River and Lincoln Creek, also flow through the city.

Milwaukee's terrain is sculpted by the glacier path and includes steep bluffs along Lake Michigan that begin about a mile (1.6 km) north of downtown. In addition, 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Milwaukee is the Kettle Moraine and lake country that provides an industrial landscape combined with inland lakes.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 96.80 square miles (250.71 km2), of which, 96.12 square miles (248.95 km2) is land and 0.68 square miles (1.76 km2) is water. The city is overwhelmingly (99.89% of its area) in Milwaukee County, but there are two tiny unpopulated parts of it that extend into neighboring counties. The part in Washington County is bordered by the southeast corner of Germantown, while the part in Waukesha County is bordered by the southeast corner of Menomonee Falls, north of the village of Butler.

Cityscape

Panoramic view of downtown Milwaukee, looking southeast to southwest from E. State St.: Kilbourn Tower, University Club Tower, Yankee Hill Apartments 1 (foreground), Northwestern Mutual North Tower, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist (foreground), U.S. Bank Center, Wisconsin Gas Building, Cathedral Place, The Pfister Hotel, AT&T Building, Chase Tower, 100 East Wisconsin, and scaffolded Milwaukee City Hall

North-south streets are numbered, and east-west streets are named. However, north-south streets east of 1st Street are named, like east-west streets. The north-south numbering line is along the Menomonee River (east of Hawley Road) and Fairview Avenue/Golfview Parkway (west of Hawley Road), with the east-west numbering line defined along 1st Street (north of Oklahoma Avenue) and Chase/Howell Avenue (south of Oklahoma Avenue). This numbering system is also used to the north by Mequon in Ozaukee County, and by some Waukesha County communities.

Milwaukee is crossed by Interstate 43 and Interstate 94, which come together downtown at the Marquette Interchange. The Interstate 894 bypass (which as of May 2015 also contains Interstate 41) runs through portions of the city's southwest side, and Interstate 794 comes out of the Marquette interchange eastbound, bends south along the lakefront and crosses the harbor over the Hoan Bridge, then ends near the Bay View neighborhood and becomes the "Lake Parkway" (WIS-794).

One of the distinctive traits of Milwaukee's residential areas are the neighborhoods full of so-called Polish flats. These are two-family homes with separate entrances, but with the units stacked one on top of another instead of side-by-side. This arrangement enables a family of limited means to purchase both a home and a modestly priced rental apartment unit. Since Polish-American immigrants to the area prized land ownership, this solution, which was prominent in their areas of settlement within the city, came to be associated with them.

The tallest building in the city is the U.S. Bank Center.

Climate

Milwaukee's location in the Great Lakes Region often has rapidly changing weather, producing a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), with cold, windy, snowy winters, and warm, humid summers. The warmest month of the year is July, when the 24-hour average is 71.8 °F (22.1 °C), while January is the coldest month, with a 24-hour average of 22.3 °F (−5.4 °C). Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, Milwaukee has the second-coldest average annual temperature, after Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Because of Milwaukee's proximity to Lake Michigan, a convection current forms around mid-afternoon in light wind, resulting in the so-called "lake breeze" - a smaller scale version of the more common sea breeze. The lake breeze is most common between the months of March and July. This onshore flow causes cooler temperatures to move inland usually 5 to 15 miles (8 to 24 km), with much warmer conditions persisting further inland. Residents refer to this phenomenon with the phrase "cooler near the lake". Because Milwaukee's official climate site, General Mitchell International Airport, is only 3 miles (4.8 km) from the lake, seasonal temperature variations are less extreme than in many other locations of the Milwaukee metropolitan area.

As the sun sets, the convection current reverses and an offshore flow ensues causing a land breeze. After a land breeze develops, warmer temperatures flow east toward the lakeshore, sometimes causing high temperatures during the late evening. The lake breeze is not a daily occurrence and will not usually form if a southwest, west, or northwest wind generally exceeds 15 mph (24 km/h). The lake moderates cold air outbreaks along the lakeshore during winter months.

Aside from the lake's influence, overnight lows in downtown Milwaukee year-round are often much warmer than suburban locations because of the urban heat island effect. Onshore winds elevate daytime relative humidity levels in Milwaukee as compared to inland locations nearby.

Thunderstorms in the region can be dangerous and damaging, bringing hail and high winds. In rare instances, they can bring a tornado. However, almost all summer rainfall in the city is brought by these storms. In spring and fall, longer events of prolonged, lighter rain bring most of the precipitation. A moderate snow cover can be seen on or linger for many winter days, but even during meteorological winter, on average, over 40% of days see less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) on the ground.

Milwaukee tends to experience highs that are 90 °F (32 °C) on or above 7 days per year, and lows at or below 0 °F (−18 °C) on 6–7 nights. Extremes range from 105 °F (41 °C) set on July 24, 1934 down to −26 °F (−32 °C) on both January 17, 1982 and February 4, 1996. The 1982 event, also known as Cold Sunday, featured temperatures as low as −40 °F (−40 °C) in some of the suburbs as little as 10 miles (16 km) to the north of Milwaukee.


Water

In the 1990s and 2000s, Lake Michigan experienced large algae blooms, which can threaten marine life. Responding to this problem, in 2009 the city became an "Innovating City" in the Global Compact Cities Program. The Milwaukee Water Council was also formed in 2009. Its objectives were to "better understand the processes related to freshwater systems dynamics" and to develop "a policy and management program aimed at balancing the protection and utilization of freshwater". The strategy used the Circles of Sustainability method. Instead of treating the water quality problem as a single environmental issue, the Water Council draws on the Circles method to analyze the interconnection among ecological, economic, political and cultural factors. This holistic water treatment helped Milwaukee win the US Water Alliance's 2012 US Water Prize.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 1,700
1850 20,061 1,080.1%
1860 45,246 125.5%
1870 71,440 57.9%
1880 115,587 61.8%
1890 204,468 76.9%
1900 285,315 39.5%
1910 373,857 31.0%
1920 457,147 22.3%
1930 578,249 26.5%
1940 587,472 1.6%
1950 637,392 8.5%
1960 741,324 16.3%
1970 717,099 −3.3%
1980 636,212 −11.3%
1990 628,088 −1.3%
2000 596,974 −5.0%
2010 594,833 −0.4%
Est. 2015 600,155 0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate
Racial composition 1980 1990 2000 2010
White (Non-Hispanic) 71.4% 60.8% 45.5% 37.0%
Black or African American 22.9% 30.2% 36.9% 40.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 4.2% 6.3% 12.0% 17.3%
Asian 0.7% 1.8% 2.9% 3.5%

599,164 people live in Milwaukee, according to the most recent U.S. Census estimate in 2013. As of 2000, 135,133 families resided in 232,188 Milwaukee households. The population density is 2,399.5/km2 (6,214.3 per square mile). There are 249,225 housing units at an average density of 1,001.7/km2 (2,594.4 per square mile).

About 30.5% of households in 2000 had children under the age of 18 living with them. 32.2% of households were married couples living together, 21.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were single individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was, 2.50 people per household with the average family size at 3.25 people per family.

In 2000, the Census estimated at least 1,408 same-sex households in Milwaukee, or about 0.6% of all households in the city. Gay-friendly communities have developed primarily in Walker's Point, but also in Bay View, Historic Third Ward, Washington Heights, Riverwest, and the East Side. In 2001, Milwaukee was named the #1 city for lesbians by Girlfriends magazine.

The city's population is spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.2 males.

Race and ethnicity 2010- Milwaukee (5559895075)
Map of racial distribution in Milwaukee, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian Hispanic, or Other (yellow)

The median income for a household in the city is $32,216, and the median income for a family is $37,879. Males have a median income of $32,244 versus $26,013 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,181. 21.3% of the population and 17.4% of families are below the poverty line. In 2010, rent increased an averaged 3% for home renters in Milwaukee. Out of the total population, 31.6% of those under the age of 18 and 11.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

According to the 2010 Census, 44.8% of the population was White (37.0% non-Hispanic white), 40.0% was Black or African American, 0.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.5% Asian, 3.4% from two or more races. 17.3% of Milwaukee's population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin (they may be of any race) (11.7% Mexican, 4.1% Puerto Rican).

Milwaukee is the 31st most populous city in the United States, and anchors the 39th most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States. Its combined statistical area population makes it the 29th most populous Combined Statistical Area of the United States. In 2012, Milwaukee was listed as a gamma global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

According to the 2006–2008 American Community Survey, 38.3% of Milwaukee's residents reported having African American ancestry and 20.8% reported German ancestry. Other significant population groups include Polish (8.8%), Irish (6.5%), Italian (3.6%), English (2.8%), and French (1.7%). According to the 2010 United States Census, the largest Hispanic backgrounds in Milwaukee as of 2010 were: Mexican (69,680), Puerto Rican (24,672), Other Hispanic or Latino (3,808), Central American (1,962), South American (1,299), Cuban (866) and Dominican (720).

The Milwaukee metropolitan area was cited as being the most segregated in the U.S. in a Jet Magazine article in 2002. The source of this information was a segregation index developed in the mid-1950s and used since 1964. In 2003, a non-peer reviewed study was conducted by hired researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee which claimed Milwaukee is not "hypersegregated" and instead ranks as the 43rd most integrated city in America. In 2011, according to an article by Daniel Denvir at www.salon.org, John Paul Dewitt of censusscope.org and the University of Michigan's Social Science Data Analysis Network looks at census data and finds Milwaukee to be the most segregated urban area in the US. Through continued dialogue between Milwaukee's citizens, the city is trying to reduce racial tensions and the rate of segregation. With demographic changes in the wake of white flight, segregation in metropolitan Milwaukee is primarily in the suburbs rather than the city as in the era of Father Groppi.

In 2015 Milwaukee was rated as the "worst city for black Americans" based on disparities in employment and income levels.

Ethnic groups

See also: Hmong in Wisconsin

In 2013 Mark Pfeifer, the editor of the Hmong Studies Journal, stated Hmong in Milwaukee had recently been moving to the northwest side of Milwaukee; they historically lived in the north and south areas of Milwaukee. The Hmong American Peace Academy/International Peace Academy, a K-12 school system in Milwaukee centered on the Hmong community, opened in 2004.

Religion

Basilica of St. Josaphat
St. Josaphat Basilica, in Milwaukee's historic Lincoln Village.

As of 2010, approximately 51.8% of residents in the Milwaukee area said they regularly attended religious services. 24.6% of the Milwaukee area population identified as Catholic, 10.8% as Lutheran, 1.6% as Methodist, and 0.6% as Jewish.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee are headquartered in Milwaukee. The School Sisters of the Third Order of St Francis have their mother house in Milwaukee, and several other religious orders have a significant presence in the area, including the Jesuits and Franciscans. Milwaukee, where Father Josef Kentenich was exiled for 14 years from 1952 to 1965, is also the center for the Schoenstatt Movement in the United States. St. Joan of Arc Chapel, the oldest church in Milwaukee, is on the Marquette University campus. St. Josaphat Basilica was the first church to be given the Basilica honor in Wisconsin and the third in the United States. Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, northwest of Milwaukee, in Hubertus, Wisconsin, was also made a Basilica in 2006.

Milwaukee is home for several Lutheran Church Synods, including the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), which operates Concordia University in Mequon and Milwaukee Lutheran High School, the nation's oldest Lutheran high school; and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), which was founded in 1850 in Milwaukee and maintains its national headquarters there.

The St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral is a landmark of the Serbian community in Milwaukee, located by the American Serb hall.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a presence in the Milwaukee area. The Milwaukee area has two stakes, with fourteen wards and four branches among them. The closest temple is the Chicago Illinois Temple. The area is part of the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission.

Culture

Rough waters lake michigan with milwaukee at horizon
Milwaukee's skyline visible from a sailboat out on Lake Michigan

Milwaukee is a popular venue for Lake Michigan sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, ethnic dining, and cultural festivals. Often referred to as the City of Festivals, Milwaukee has various cultural events which take place throughout the summer at Henry Maier Festival Park, on the lake. Museums and cultural events, such as Jazz in the Park, occur weekly in downtown parks. A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Milwaukee 15th most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.

Museums

Art

Milwaukee Art Museum 1 (Mulad)
Milwaukee Art Museum
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum is perhaps Milwaukee's most visually prominent cultural attraction; especially its $100 million wing designed by Santiago Calatrava in his first American commission. The museum includes a brise soleil, a moving sunscreen that unfolds similar to the wing of a bird.
  • The Grohmann Museum, at Milwaukee School of Engineering contains the world's most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. It houses the Man at Work collection, which comprises more than 700 paintings and sculptures dating from 1580 to the present. The museum also features a spectacular rooftop sculpture garden.
  • Haggerty Museum of Art, on the Marquette University campus houses several classical masterpieces and is open to the public.
  • The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is the former home of Lloyd Smith, president of the A.O. Smith corporation, and has a terraced garden, an assortment of Renaissance art, and rotating exhibits.
  • Charles Allis Art Museum, in the Tudor-style mansion of Charles Allis, hosts several changing exhibits every year in the building's original antique furnished setting.

Science and natural history

Milwaukee Wisconsin 5514
The Calling I-beams
Discovery World Milwaukee Wisconsin 5598
Discovery World
  • The Milwaukee Public Museum has been Milwaukee's primary natural history and human history museum for 125 years, with over 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of permanent exhibits. Exhibits feature Africa, Europe, the Arctic, Oceania, and South and Middle America, the ancient Western civilizations ("Crossroads of Civilization"), dinosaurs, the tropical rainforest, streets of Old Milwaukee, a European Village, live insects and arthropods ("Bugs Alive!") a Sampson Gorilla replica, the Puelicher Butterfly Wing, hands-on laboratories, and animatronics. The museum also has an IMAX movie theater/planetarium. Milwaukee Public Museum owns the world's largest dinosaur skull.
  • Discovery World, Milwaukee's largest museum dedicated to science, is just south of the Milwaukee Art Museum along the lake front. Visitors are drawn by its high-tech, hand-on exhibits, salt water and freshwater aquariums, as well as touch tanks and digital theaters. A double helix staircase wraps around the 40-foot (12 m) kinetic sculpture of a human genome. The S/V Dennis Sullivan Schooner Ship docked at Discovery World is the world's only re-creation of an 1880s-era three-masted vessel and the first schooner to be built in Milwaukee in over 100 years. It teaches visitors about the Great Lakes and Wisconsin's maritime history.
  • Betty Brinn Children's Museum is geared toward children under 10 and is filled with hands-on exhibits and interactive programs, offering families a chance to learn together. Voted one of the top 10 museums for children by Parents Magazine, it exemplifies the philosophy that constructive play nurtures the mind.
  • Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (Mitchell Park Domes or, simply, the Domes) is a conservatory at Mitchell Park. It is owned and operated by the Milwaukee County Park System, and replaced the original Milwaukee Conservatory which stood from 1898 to 1955. The three domes display a large variety of plant and bird life. The conservatory includes the Tropical Dome, the Arid Dome and the Show Dome, which hosts four seasonal (cultural, literary, or historic) shows and one Christmas exhibit held annually in December for visitors to enjoy.

Social and cultural history

Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee seen from Wisconsin Avenue
Pabst Mansion
  • Pabst Mansion Built in 1892 by beer tycoon Frederick Pabst, this Flemish Renaissance Mansion was once considered the jewel of Milwaukee's famous avenue of mansions called the "Grand Avenue". Interior rooms have been restored with period furniture, to create an authentic replica of a Victorian Mansion. Nationally recognized as a house museum.
  • Milwaukee County Historical Society features Milwaukee during the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Housed within an architectural landmark, the Milwaukee's Historical Society features a panoramic painting of Milwaukee, firefighting equipment, period replicas of a pharmacy and a bank, and Children's world – an exhibit that includes vintage toys, clothes and school materials. The museum houses a research library, where scenes from the movie Public Enemies were shot.
  • Wisconsin Black Historical Society, whose mission is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin, exhibiting collecting and disseminating materials depicting this heritage.
  • America's Black Holocaust Museum, founded by lynching survivor James Cameron, features exhibits which chronicle the injustices suffered throughout history by African Americans in the United States. The museum closed temporarily in July 2008 as a result of financial difficulties; no formal re-opening date had been set. The museum reopened in 2012 as a virtual museum.
  • Jewish Museum Milwaukee, is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the Jewish people in southeastern Wisconsin and celebrating the continuum of Jewish heritage and culture.
  • Mitchell Gallery of Flight, at General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee's aviation and historical enthusiasts experience the history of General Mitchell International Airport with a visit to the Gallery of Flight. Exhibits include General Billy Mitchell; replicas of past and present aircraft including the Lawson Airline, the first commercial airliner; the Graf Zeppelin II, the sistership to the tragically legendary Hindenburg; a 1911 Curtis Pusher, an airplane with the propeller in the rear of the plane; and the present day giant of the sky, the 747. Other exhibits include commercial air memorabilia, early aviation engines and airport beacons.
  • Harley-Davidson Museum, opened in 2008, pays tribute to Harley-Davidson motorcycles and is the only museum of its type in the world.
  • Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear

In 2009, Milwaukee ranked No. 11 on Newsmax magazine's list of the "Top 25 Most Uniquely American Cities and Towns", a piece written by current CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg. In determining his ranking, Greenberg cited—among other things—the city's number of "standout historical structures", such as the Pabst Mansion and the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Arenas and performing arts

Performing arts groups and venues include:

  • The Alchemist Theatre
  • Bel Canto Chorus
  • Cooperative Performance Milwaukee
  • Danceworks Performance Company
  • First Stage Children's Theater
  • Florentine Opera
  • In Tandem Theatre
  • Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
  • Milwaukee Theatre
  • Milwaukee Youth Arts Center
  • Milwaukee Ballet
  • Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
  • Milwaukee Repertory Theater
  • Milwaukee Opera Theatre
  • Milwaukee Public Theatre
  • Milwaukee Youth Theatre
  • Next Act Theatre
  • Off The Wall Theatre
  • Optimist Theatre
  • Pabst Theater
  • Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps
  • Present Music
  • Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre
  • The Rave /Eagles Ballroom
  • Riverside Theater
  • Renaissance Theaterworks
  • Skylight Music Theatre
  • Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
  • Turner Hall
  • Theatre Gigante
  • BMO Harris Bradley Center
  • Miller Park
  • Marcus Amphitheater on the Henry Maier Festival Park Summerfest Grounds

In 1984 ComedySportz was founded in Milwaukee by native Dick Chudnow and has since become a franchise, with numerous venues throughout the United States and England. In July 2009 the ComedySportz world championship returned to Milwaukee to coincide with its 25th anniversary.

Public art and monuments

Milwaukee has some 75 sculptures to honor the many people and topics reflecting the city's history. Among the more prominent monuments are:

  • Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
  • Tadeusz Kościuszko
  • Casimir Pulaski
  • Solomon Juneau
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • George Washington
  • Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The Victorious Charge
  • Leif Ericson
  • Jacques Marquette
  • Goethe-Schiller Monument
  • Immigrant Mother
  • Letter Carriers' Monument, a memorial to the National Association of Letter Carriers

City of Festivals

Summerfest Pabst Showcase 1994
Henry Maier Festival Grounds during Summerfest

While Milwaukee had been previously marketed as "A Genuine American City" as well as "A Great Place on a Great Lake", it has earned the nickname, the "City of Festivals."

The city hosts an annual lakefront music festival called Summerfest. Listed in the 1999 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest music festival in the world, for the last several years Summerfest has attracted around a million visitors each year to its eleven stages featuring over 800 acts. The adjacent city of West Allis has been the site of the Wisconsin State Fair for over a century.

Milwaukee hosts a variety of primarily ethnically themed festivals throughout the summer. Held generally on the lakefront Summerfest grounds, these festivals span several days (typically Friday plus the weekend) and celebrate Milwaukee's history and diversity. Festivals for the LGBT (PrideFest) and Polish (Polish Fest) communities are typically held in June. Summerfest spans 11 days at the end of June and beginning of July. There are French (Bastille Days), Greek, Italian (Festa Italiana) and German (German Fest) festivals in July. The African, Arab, Irish (Irish Fest), Mexican, and American Indian events wrap it up from August through September. Milwaukee is also home to Trainfest, the largest operating model railroad show in America, in November.

Cuisine

Milwaukee's ethnic cuisines include German, Italian, Russian, Hmong, French, Serbian, Polish, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Middle Eastern and Ethiopian.

Famous Chef Julia Child visited Milwaukee and selected Milwaukee native chef Sanford D'Amato to cook for her 80th birthday. D'Amato, trained in New York City, is the executive chef for Milwaukee's five-star restaurant Sanford, and Coquette Cafe Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County hosts the Zoo-A La Carte at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and various ethnic festivals like Summerfest, German Fest, and Festa Italiana to celebrate various types of cuisine in summer months.

Music

Jazz in the park Milwaukee 6062
Aerial view of "Jazz in the Park", Cathedral Square Park

Milwaukee has a long history of musical activity. The first organized musical society, called "Milwaukee Beethoven Society" formed in 1843, three years before the city was incorporated.

The large concentrations of German and other European immigrants contributed to the musical character of the city. Saengerfesten were held regularly.

In the early 20th century, guitar legend Les Paul and pianist Liberace were some of the area's most famous musicians. Both Paul, born in Waukesha, and Liberace, born in West Allis, launched their internationally recognized careers in Milwaukee music venues. Paramount Records, primarily a jazz and blues record label, was founded in Grafton, a northern suburb of Milwaukee, in the 1920s and 1930s. Hal Leonard Corporation, founded in 1947 is one of the world's largest music print publishers, and is headquartered in Milwaukee. The Hal Leonard Guitar Method was launched in Milwaukee becoming one of the first methods to incorporate popular music. The course today remains the leading guitar method in the world; it has taught millions of people how to play. Today, Hal Leonard represents in print some of the world's best known and most respected artists, such as: Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel, Elton John, B.B. King, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, The Police, Elvis Presley, Queen, Bonnie Raitt, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Sinatra, Sting, U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Who, Hank Williams, Stevie Wonder, and others. More recently, Milwaukee has enjoyed a vibrant history of rock, hip hop, jazz, soul, blues, punk, ska, industrial music, electronica, world music, and pop music bands.

Milwaukee's most famous music venue is Summerfest. Summerfest claims to be the world's largest music festival and was founded in Milwaukee in 1968. Live musical acts are offered on 11 stages, for 11 days beginning in late June. On the Summerfest grounds, the largest theater in the city is the Marcus Amphitheater with a 23,000 person capacity.

Venues such as Pabst Theater, Marcus Center for Performing Arts, the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Marcus Amphitheater (Summerfest Grounds), Riverside Theater, the Northern Lights Theater, and The Rave frequently bring internationally known acts to Milwaukee. 'Jazz in the Park', a weekly jazz show held at downtown Cathedral Square Park, has become a summer tradition; free, public performances with a picnic environment. Nearby Pere Marquette Park hosts "River Rhythms" on Wednesday nights.

The Milwaukee area is known for producing national talents such as Steve Miller (rock), Wladziu Valentino Liberace (piano), Al Jarreau (jazz), Eric Benet (neo-soul), Speech (hip hop), Daryl Stuermer (rock), BoDeans (rock), Les Paul (jazz), the Violent Femmes (alternative), Coo Coo Cal (rap), Die Kreuzen (punk), Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy (punk), Eyes To The Sky (hardcore), Rico Love (R&B), Andrew 'The Butcher' Mrotek of The Academy Is... (alt-rock), Showoff (pop-punk), The Promise Ring (indie), Lights Out Asia (post-rock), the Gufs (alt rock), Brief Candles (rock) and Decibully (indie).

Municipal wireless

Through its Milwaukee Wireless Initiative, the city has contracted with Midwest Fiber Networks to invest US$20 million in setting up a municipal wireless network city-wide. Under the plan, the city will designate numerous government and public service websites for free access, and city residents will be able to access unlimited content for a monthly fee. Full wireless coverage was expected by March 2008, but delays have been reported.

The city had previously established free wireless networks in two downtown city parks: Cathedral Square; and Pere Marquette Park.

Parks and recreation

Lake park milwaukee circa 1890 panorama
Panoramic view of Lake Park, c. 1890.
Leisure boating, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Leisure boats on the Milwaukee River
2008 entrance sign5
Havenwoods State Forest entrance
Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, "The Domes"

Milwaukee County is known for its well-developed Parks of Milwaukee park system. The "Grand Necklace of Parks", designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's Central Park, includes Lake Park, River Park (now Riverside Park), and West Park (now Washington Park). Milwaukee County Parks offer facilities for sunbathing, picnics, grilling, disc golf, and ice skating. Milwaukee has over 140 parks with over 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) of parks and parkways. In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported Milwaukee had the 19th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.

Parks and nature centers

The Monarch Trail, on the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa, is a 1.25-mile (2 km) trail that highlights the fall migration of the monarch butterflies.

During the summer months, Cathedral Park in Downtown Milwaukee hosts "Jazz in the Park" on Thursday nights. Nearby Pere Marquette Park hosts "River Rhythms" on Wednesday nights.

Milwaukee County public markets

Milwaukee Wisconsin 7949
The Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market, in the Third Ward neighborhood, is an indoor market that sells produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, vegetables, candies, and flowers from local businesses.

Milwaukee County Farmers Markets, held in season, sell fresh produce, meats, cheeses, jams, jellies, preserves and syrups, and plants. Farmers markets also feature artists and craftspeople. Locations include: Aur Farmers Market, Brown Deer Farmers Market, Cudahy Farmers Market, East Town Farm Market, Enderis Park Farmers Market, Fondy Farmers Market, Mitchell Street Market, Riverwest Farmers Market, Silver Spring Farmers Market, South Milwaukee Farmers Market, South Shore Farmers Market, Uptown Farmers Market, Wauwatosa Farmers Market, West Allis Farmers Market, and Westown Market on the Park.

Sister cities

As of 2015, Milwaukee has seven sister cities and one friendship city around the world:

  • Venezuela Carora, Venezuela
  • Republic of Ireland Galway, Republic of Ireland
  • Tanzania Morogoro, Tanzania
  • South Africa uMhlathuze, South Africa
  • Indonesia Medan, Indonesia
  • Croatia Zadar, Croatia
  • Kenya Bomet, Kenya

Friendship cities

Officials from Milwaukee and Ningbo have signed an agreement to promote business and cultural ties between the two cities and their respective nations.

Officials from Milwaukee and Kanpur have agreed to establish twin city relationship as a part of educational and industrial exchange between both cities.

In popular culture

  • "What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)", a 1968 song written by Glenn Sutton, specifically references the slogan of Schlitz beer, "The beer that made Milwaukee famous."
  • Country music song, "Milwaukee, Here I Come" as recorded by many, including Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner (on their 1969 album, Always, Always), George Jones and Brenda Carter (but often performed with Tammy Wynette), Melba Montgomery and John Prine, and many others.
  • Milwaukee was the setting for two American television shows in the 1970s and 1980s: Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. The city of Milwaukee unveiled a life-sized, bronze statue of Fonzie from Happy Days along the downtown Riverwalk on August 19, 2008 to mixed reaction.
  • The comic book superheroes Great Lakes Avengers keep their base of operations in Milwaukee.
  • Milwaukee appears as a setting under the name Millhaven, Illinois in the later works of Milwaukeean Peter Straub
  • Danny Gokey, from Milwaukee, was the third-place finalist during the eighth season (2009) of American Idol.
  • Milwaukee was one of the audition cities for the 2010–2011 American Idol auditions. The winner of this season, Scotty McCreery, and finalist Naima Adedapo, a Milwaukee native, were also discovered during this audition.

Milwaukee has appeared (or has been depicted) in scenes from a variety of feature films, including:

  • Gaily, Gaily (1969)
  • The Hindenburg (1975)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Major League (1989)
  • Medusa: Dare to be Truthful (1991) – Milwaukee was Medusa's hometown, movie actually filmed in Los Angeles.
  • Wayne's World (1992) – in which the characters parodied the opening of Laverne and Shirley.
  • Camp Nowhere (1994)
  • Hoop Dreams (1994)
  • One Night Stand (1997)
  • My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
  • BASEketball (1998)
  • The Big One (1998)
  • Dogma (1999)
  • American Movie (1999)
  • Modus Operandi (1999)
  • Chump Change (2001)
  • Love Actually (2003)
  • Milwaukee, Minnesota (2003)
  • "Bad Santa" (2003)
  • Mr. 3000 (2004)
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004) – set in Milwaukee, actual filming was done in Ontario
  • 5000 Miles (2006)
  • Chasing Sound: Les Paul at 90 (2007)
  • Michael Clayton (2007)
  • Crossed (2008)
  • Public Enemies (2009)
  • No God No Master (2010 film)
  • Bridesmaids (2011)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Images for kids


Milwaukee Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.