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Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Downtown Oshkosh at U.S. Route 45
Downtown Oshkosh at U.S. Route 45
Sawdust City
"On the water."
Location of Oshkosh in Winnebago County, Wisconsin.
Location of Oshkosh in Winnebago County, Wisconsin.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin is located in Wisconsin
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Location in Wisconsin
Oshkosh, Wisconsin is located in the United States
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Winnebago
Settled 1853
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City 28.03 sq mi (72.60 km2)
 • Land 27.02 sq mi (69.98 km2)
 • Water 1.01 sq mi (2.61 km2)
790 ft (241 m)
 • City 66,083
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,479.79/sq mi (957.44/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC– 06:00 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC– 05:00 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 920
FIPS code 55-60500

Oshkosh is a city in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, of which it is the county seat. The city had an estimated population of 67,004 in 2019, making it the ninth-largest city in Wisconsin. It is also adjacent to the Town of Oshkosh.


Oshkosh on the Fox River

Oshkosh was named for Menominee Chief Oshkosh, whose name meant "claw" (cf. Ojibwe oshkanzh, "the claw"). Although the fur trade brought the first European settlers to the area as early as 1818, it never became a major player in the fur trade. It was the establishment and growth of the lumber industry in the area that spurred development of Oshkosh. Oshkosh was incorporated as a city in 1853, although it had already been designated the county seat, and had a population of nearly 2,800.

The lumber industry became well established as businessmen took advantage of navigable waterways to provide access to both markets and northern pineries. The 1859 arrival of rail transportation expanded the ability to meet the demands of a rapidly growing construction market. At one time, Oshkosh was known as the "Sawdust Capital of the World" due to the number of lumber mills in the city, 11 by 1860. By 1874, there were 47 sawmills and 15 shingle mills. By 1870, Oshkosh had become the third-largest city in Wisconsin with a population of over 12,000. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper (now the Oshkosh Northwestern) was founded around this time, as was the Oshkosh State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh). On April 28, 1875, Oshkosh had a "Great Fire" that consumed homes and businesses along Main Street north of the Fox River. The fire had engulfed 70 stores, 40 factories, and 500 homes costing nearly $2.5 million (or $51.2 million in 2010 money) in damage.

Around 1900 Oshkosh was home of the Oshkosh Brewing Company, which coined the marketing slogan "By Gosh It's Good." Its Chief Oshkosh became a nationally distributed beer.

The Oshkosh All-Stars played in the National Basketball League from 1937-49 before the NBL and the Basketball Association of America merged to become the NBA. Oshkosh reached the NBL's championship finals five times.

Historic districts

Houses in the Algoma Historic District

The city has a total of 33 listings on the National Register of Historic Places. The lumber industry made the fortunes of area entrepreneurs and businessmen, who made significant contributions to the community, politics and philanthropic organizations. Availability of materials and capital, along with devastating downtown fires in the mid-1870s, created a range of well-designed buildings for residential, commercial, civic and religious use. The many structures which make up the city's historic areas are largely a result of the capital and materials generated by the lumber and associated wood manufacturing industries. Oshkosh had six historic districts as of October 2011. They include the Algoma Boulevard, Irving/Church, North Main Street, Oshkosh State Normal School on the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh campus, Paine Lumber Company and Washington Avenue historic districts.

The city had 27 historic buildings as of October 2011. Eleven are houses, four are churches, and the remainder include schools, colleges, a bank, a fire house, an observatory, the county courthouse, and a cemetery where many of the entrepreneurs are buried.


Oshkosh is located at 44°1′29″N 88°33′4″W / 44.02472°N 88.55111°W / 44.02472; -88.55111 (44.024983, -88.551336).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.61 square miles (68.92 km2), of which, 25.59 square miles (66.28 km2) is land and 1.02 square miles (2.64 km2) is water.


Oshkosh has a humid continental climate (Dfa) according to the Köppen climate classification system.

Climate data for Oshkosh (1893-2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
Average high °F (°C) 25.7
Average low °F (°C) 8.7
Record low °F (°C) -32
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.25
Snowfall inches (cm) 10.5
Avg. precipitation days 8 7 8 10 11 10 9 9 9 8 8 8 105
Source: WRCC


Major highways

Taken at 3:09:47 am. CDT on March 28, 2012, from an altitude of 211 nautical miles (391 km) during ISS Expedition 30.
Taken at 3:09:47 am. CDT on March 28, 2012, from an altitude of 211 nautical miles (391 km) during ISS Expedition 30.
Interstate 41 Northbound routes to Appleton and Green Bay. Southbound, I-41 routes to Fond du Lac and Milwaukee. It has six exits serving the Oshkosh area at:

WIS 26/Hwy N Waupun Rd. (Exit 113), WIS 44/91 South Park Ave./Ripon Rd. (Exit 116), 9th Ave. (Exit 117), WIS 21 Oshkosh Ave./Omro Rd. (Exit 119), US 45 Algoma Blvd. (Exit 120), and WIS 76 Jackson St. (Exit 124).

US 41.svg
U.S. Route 41 US 41 is cosigned with Interstate 41 in the Oshkosh area.
WIS 21.svg
WIS 21 travels west to Omro, Wautoma and Tomah, Wisconsin. WIS 21 is partly or entirely along Omro Rd., Oshkosh Ave., Congress Ave., and Algoma Blvd.
WIS 26.svg
WIS 26 Southbound, routes to Rosendale, Waupun, Beaver Dam, Watertown, Ft. Atkinson, and Janesville, Wisconsin. This is Waupun Rd.
WIS 44.svg
WIS 44 travels southwest to Ripon, Wisconsin. WIS 44 is partly or entirely along Ripon Rd., South Park Ave., Ohio St., Wisconsin St., and Irving Ave.
US 45.svg
U.S. Route 45 travels north to New London, Wisconsin, and travels south to Fond du Lac along Lake Winnebago. US 45 is partly or entirely along Fond du Lac Rd., Main St., Algoma Blvd. (Northbound) / High Ave. (Southbound), Jackson St., Murdock St., and Algoma Blvd. Algoma Blvd was Wis 110 until the mid 2000s when US 45 was rerouted on the freeway that heads northwest out of town.
WIS 76.svg
WIS 76 travels north to Shiocton, Wisconsin. This is Jackson St. from US 45 Murdock St heading north.
WIS 91.svg
WIS 91 travels west to Berlin, Wisconsin. This is cosigned with WIS 44 along South Park Ave west of US 41 to Waukau Rd. Then it continues west on Waukau Rd.

Highway 110?


Oshkosh is also served by the GO Transit (formerly Oshkosh Transit System), which runs nine fixed-route bus routes throughout the city from 6:15 am until 6:45 pm Monday through Saturday. One of these routes also connects Oshkosh with Neenah, Wisconsin, and the Fox Cities' transit system, Valley Transit.


Oshkosh's airport, Wittman Field or Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH), opened in 1927 as Oshkosh Airport Inc. The airport had commercial traffic starting in 1928 when Northwest Airways delivered mail to Oshkosh and the Fox Cities. In 1972, the airport was renamed after race pilot Steve Wittman, who was the airport manager for 38 years.

Wittman Field had commercial service on a number of airlines until 2003. Wittman was served at various times by Wisconsin Central Airlines, North Central, Republic, Air Wisconsin, American Central, Midstate Airlines, Northwest Airlink, United Express, Midway Connection, Skyway, and Great Lakes. Service on the final carrier, Great Lakes, was terminated in 2003 following the FAA's termination of a federal subsidy.

In the 21st century, Wittman Field continues to host the EAA AirVenture Air Show and Expo (formerly the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In up to 1998). The EAA was founded in 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Paul Poberezny. The event was first held at Timmerman Field. In 1959, it was moved to Rockford, Illinois. By 1969, the EAA had grown too big for Rockford Municipal Airport, and the convention voted on moving to Oshkosh. During the Airshow, Wittman Regional Airport becomes the busiest airport in the world: more than 500,000 people and 10,000 airplanes attend AirVenture each year.

The closest airport with commercial service is Appleton International Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 6,086
1870 12,663 108.1%
1880 15,748 24.4%
1890 22,836 45.0%
1900 28,284 23.9%
1910 33,062 16.9%
1920 33,162 0.3%
1930 40,108 20.9%
1940 39,089 −2.5%
1950 41,084 5.1%
1960 45,110 9.8%
1970 53,082 17.7%
1980 49,620 −6.5%
1990 55,006 10.9%
2000 62,916 14.4%
2010 66,083 5.0%
2019 (est.) 67,004 1.4%
U.S. Census Bureau

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 66,083 people, 26,138 households, and 13,836 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,582.4 inhabitants per square mile (997.1/km2). There were 28,179 housing units at an average density of 1,101.2 per square mile (425.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.5% White, 3.1% African American, 0.8% Native American, 3.2% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.7% of the population.

There were 26,138 households, of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% 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 47.1% were non-families. Of all households, 34.4% were made up of individuals, and 11.4% 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 2.90.

The median age in the city was 33.5 years. 18.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 18.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.7% were from 25 to 44; 23% were from 45 to 64; and 12.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.2% male and 48.8% female.

Culture and entertainment

Grand Opera House.

Oshkosh has seen a recent (as of 2006) resurgence in its cultural and entertainment options.

A downtown redevelopment plan led to the construction of the outdoor Leach Amphitheater on the Fox River, hosting the weekly Waterfest concert series during the summer, as well as national touring musical acts and local community events. Also in downtown Oshkosh is the Grand Opera House, a performing arts center.

Downtown Oshkosh Gallery Walk, held every first Saturday of the month year-round, surged in attendance in comparison to previous years through the warmer months of 2006. A number of downtown Oshkosh music venues have opened and existing venues have tended to expand their schedules, following the trend of the area at large. The Jambalaya Art Cooperative and Art Space Collective have been long standing anchors of the Gallery Walk. In 2010, Chicago Magazine called The Jambalaya Cooperative, 413 N. Main St., a "must see" destination when visiting Oshkosh.

Long-running community festivals such as Sawdust Days in Menominee Park continue to be popular. Menominee Park is also the site of the Menominee Park Zoo and "Little Oshkosh", a community-built playground. Oshkosh is also home to "Country USA" featuring entertainment from dozens of country music acts over a five-day period in June, and "Rock USA" featuring entertainment from many rock music acts as well.

The Milwaukee Bucks NBA basketball team has announced it would form a D-League franchise in Oshkosh in the 2017-2018 season.

Other points of interest:


University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

Oshkosh has 14 public elementary schools, five public middle schools, and two high schools operated by the Oshkosh Area School District. The high schools in the Oshkosh Area School District are Oshkosh North High School and Oshkosh West High School.

Private schools in the city include Grace Lutheran School (pre-K to 8th grade) and Martin Luther School (pre-K to 8th grade) of the WELS, Lourdes High School, and Valley Christian School (pre-k to 12)

The University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, the third-largest university in the state, is located in Oshkosh. The downtown campus serves approximately 15,000 students and employs 1,700 staff. Higher education is also served by a campus of the Fox Valley Technical College.

Notable people

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