Milwaukee (/mɪlˈwɔːki/, locally /mɪˈ-/) is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States. The seat of the eponymous county, it is on Lake Michigan's western shore. Ranked by its estimated 2014 population, Milwaukee was the 31st largest city in the United States. The city's estimated population in 2017 was 595,351. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee metropolitan area which had a population of 2,043,904 in the 2014 census estimate. It is the third-most densely populated metropolitan area in the Midwest, surpassed only by Chicago and Detroit, respectively. Milwaukee is considered a Gamma global city as categorized by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network with a regional GDP of over $105 billion.
The first Europeans to pass through the area were French Catholic Jesuit missionaries, who were ministering to Native Americans, 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 arrived during the late 1840s, after the German revolutions, with Poles and other eastern European immigrants arriving in the following decades. Milwaukee is known for its brewing traditions, begun with the German immigrants.
Beginning in the early 21st century, the city has been undergoing 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, The Hop (streetcar system), an expansion to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Pier Wisconsin, as well as major renovations to the UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena. The Fiserv Forum opened in late 2018.
The name "Milwaukee" comes from an Algonquian word millioke, meaning "good", "beautiful" and "pleasant land" (compare Potawatomi: minwaking, Ojibwe: ominowakiing) or "gathering place [by the water]" (compare Potawatomi: manwaking, Ojibwe: omaniwakiing). The name has a less pleasant connotation in the Menominee language, where it is called Māēnāēwah, "some misfortune happens".
Native American Milwaukee
Indigenous cultures lived along the waterways for thousands of years. The first recorded inhabitants of the Milwaukee area are the historic Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, and 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 Native Americans living near Milwaukee played a role in all the major European 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 Native Americans around Milwaukee were some of the few groups to ally with the rebel Continentals.
After the Revolutionary War, the Native Americans fought the United States in the Northwest Indian War as part of the Council of Three Fires. During the War of 1812, they held a council in Milwaukee in June 1812, which resulted in their decision to attack Chicago in retaliation against American expansion. This resulted in the Battle of Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812, the only known armed conflict in the Chicago area. This battle convinced the American government that the Native Americans had to be removed from their land. After being attacked in the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Native Americans in Milwaukee signed the Treaty of Chicago with the United States in 1833. In exchange for their ceding their lands in the area, they were to receive monetary payments and lands west of the Mississippi in Indian Territory.
Milwaukee since European settlement
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; and is considered the first resident of European descent in the Milwaukee region. Early explorers called the Milwaukee River and surrounding lands various names: Melleorki, Milwacky, Mahn-a-waukie, Milwarck, and Milwaucki, in efforts to transliterate the native terms. For many years, printed records gave the name as "Milwaukie".
One story on the origin 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 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. He ensured the roads 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 developer 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, following removal of the tribes in the Council of Three Fires. Early that year it became known that Juneau and Kilbourn intended to lay out competing town-sites. By the year's 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, 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, town leaders 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 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 immigrated 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 as the most German of American cities not just from the large number of German immigrants it received, but for the sense of community which the immigrants established here.
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. He later explained in 1854 why he came to Milwaukee,
"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 had a lasting influence 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. 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.
Although the German presence in Milwaukee after the Civil War remained strong and their largest wave of immigrants had yet to land, other groups also 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.
For many residents, Milwaukee's South Side is synonymous with the Polish community that developed here. The group's proud ethnicity maintained a high profile here for decades, and it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that 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 more dense, 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. Jones Island was a major commercial fishing center settled mostly by Poles from around 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, who included Jews, Lutherans, and Catholics. Italian Americans total 16,992 in the city, but in Milwaukee County, they number at 38,286. The largest Italian-American festival in the area, 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, who have developed Serbian restaurants, a Serbian K-8 School, and 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 late-20th century immigration after the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
During this time, a small community of African Americans migrated from the South in the Great Migration. They settled near each other, forming a community that came to be known as Bronzeville. As industry boomed, more migrants came and African-American influence grew in Milwaukee.
By 1925, around 9,000 Mexicans lived in Milwaukee, but the Great Depression forced many of them to move back south. 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 had reduced immigration from eastern and southern Europe. 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 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 91.1% white and 8.4% black.
By the late 1960s, Milwaukee's population had started to decline as people moved to suburbs, aided by federal subsidies of highways. They moved to take advantage of new housing. Milwaukee had a population of 636,212 by 1980, while the population of the overall metropolitan area increased. Given its large immigrant population and historic neighborhoods, Milwaukee avoided the severe declines of some of its fellow "rust belt" cities.
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 have 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 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. Both were annexations done for industrial concerns, with the Waukesha County portion containing a Cargill plant for Ambrosia Chocolate, and the Washington County portion containing a Waste Management facility.
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.
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).
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. Because Milwaukee's official climate site, Milwaukee 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 seven days per year, and lows at or below 0 °F (−18 °C) on six to seven 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.
|Climate data for Milwaukee (Mitchell International Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1871–present[b]|
|Record high °F (°C)||63
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||48.4
|Average high °F (°C)||28.9
|Average low °F (°C)||15.6
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−5.1
|Record low °F (°C)||−26
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.76
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||14.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||11.4||9.7||11.4||12.1||11.4||10.4||9.8||9.5||8.8||10.0||11.3||10.9||126.7|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||9.8||7.5||5.6||1.7||0.1||0||0||0||0||0.3||2.5||7.8||35.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||72.3||71.9||71.4||68.5||68.5||69.7||71.5||74.9||75.4||72.5||74.5||75.9||72.3|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||140.2||151.5||185.4||213.5||275.5||304.5||321.1||281.2||215.1||178.0||112.8||104.8||2,483.6|
|Percent possible sunshine||48||51||50||53||61||66||69||65||57||52||38||37||56|
|Average ultraviolet index||1||2||4||5||7||8||8||8||6||3||2||1||5|
|Source #1: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
|Source #2: Weather Atlas |
|Climate data for Milwaukee|
|Average sea temperature °F (°C)||37.5
|Source: Weather Atlas |
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.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
599,164 people live in Milwaukee, according to the 2013 U.S. Census estimate. 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).
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.
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.
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.
|Black or African American||40.0%||36.9%||30.2%||22.9%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||17.3%||12.0%||6.3%||4.2%|
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).
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. According to research by demographer William H. Frey using the index of dissimilarity method and data from the 2010 United States Census, Milwaukee has the highest level of black-white segregation of any of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. 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. The city's black population experiences disproportionately high levels of incarceration and a severe educational achievement gap.
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.
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 synods, including the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), which operates Concordia University Wisconsin 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.
Milwaukee's founding fathers had a vision for the city: they knew it was perfectly situated as a port city, a center for collecting and distributing produce. Many of the new immigrants who were pouring into the new state of Wisconsin during the middle of the 19th century were wheat farmers. By 1860, Wisconsin was the second ranked wheat-growing state in the country and Milwaukee shipped more wheat than any place in the world. Railroads were needed to transport all this grain from the wheat fields of Wisconsin to Milwaukee's harbor. Improvements in railways at the time made this possible.
There was intense competition for markets with Chicago, and to a lesser degree, with Racine and Kenosha. Eventually Chicago won out due to its superior financial and transposition status, as well as being a hub on major railroad lines throughout the United States. Milwaukee did solidify its place as the commercial capital of Wisconsin and an important market in the Midwest.
Because of its easy access to Lake Michigan and other waterways, Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley has historically been home to manufacturing, stockyards, rendering plants, shipping, and other heavy industry.
Reshaping of the valley began with the railroads built by city co-founder Byron Kilbourn to bring product from Wisconsin's farm interior to the port. By 1862 Milwaukee was the largest shipper of wheat on the planet, and related industry developed. Grain elevators were built and, due to Milwaukee's dominant German immigrant population, breweries sprang up around the processing of barley and hops. A number of tanneries were constructed, of which the Pfister & Vogel tannery grew to become the largest in America.
In 1843 George Burnham and his brother Jonathan opened a brickyard near 16th Street. When a durable and distinct cream-colored brick came out of the clay beds, other brickyards sprang up to take advantage of this resource. Because many of the city's buildings were built using this material it earned the nickname "Cream City", and consequently the brick was called Cream City brick. By 1881 the Burnham brickyard, which employed 200 men and peaked at 15 million bricks a year, was the largest in the world.
Flour mills, packing plants, breweries, railways and tanneries further industrialized the valley. With the marshlands drained and the Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee Rivers dredged, attention turned to the valley.
Along with the processing industries, bulk commodity storage and machining and manufacturing entered the scene. The valley was home to the Milwaukee Road, Falk Corporation, Cutler-Hammer, Harnischfeger Corporation, Chain Belt Company, Nordberg Manufacturing Company and other industry giants.
Early in the 20th century, Milwaukee was home to several pioneer brass era automobile makers, including Ogren (from 1919 to 1922).
Milwaukee became synonymous with Germans and beer beginning in the 1840s. The Germans had long enjoyed beer and set up breweries when they arrived in Milwaukee. By 1856, there were more than two dozen breweries in Milwaukee, most of them owned and operated by Germans. Besides making beer for the rest of the nation, Milwaukeeans enjoyed consuming the various beers produced in the city's breweries. As early as 1843, pioneer historian James Buck recorded 138 taverns in Milwaukee, an average of one per forty residents. Today, beer halls and taverns are abundant in the city, but only one of the major breweries—Miller—remains in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest beer breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller), and was the number one beer producing city in the world for many years. As late as 1981, Milwaukee had the greatest brewing capacity in the world. Despite the decline in its position as the world's leading beer producer after the loss of two of those breweries, Miller Brewing Company remains a key employer by employing over 2,200 of the city's workers. Because of Miller's position as the second-largest beer-maker in the U.S., the city remains known as a beer town. The city and surrounding areas are seeing a resurgence in microbreweries, nanobreweries and brewpubs with the craft beer movement.
The historic Milwaukee Brewery in "Miller Valley" at 4000 West State Street, is the oldest functioning major brewery in the United States. In 2008, Coors beer also began to be brewed in Miller Valley. This created additional brewery jobs in Milwaukee, but the company's world headquarters moved from Milwaukee to Chicago.
In addition to Miller and the heavily automated Leinenkugel's brewery in the old Blatz 10th Street plant, other stand-alone breweries in Milwaukee include Milwaukee Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Walker's Point neighborhood; Lakefront Brewery, a microbrewery in Brewers Hill; and Sprecher Brewery, a German brewery that also brews craft sodas. Since 2015, nearly two dozen craft brewing companies have been established in the city.
Three beer brewers with Wisconsin operations made the 2009 list of the 50 largest beermakers in the United States, based on beer sales volume. Making the latest big-breweries list from Wisconsin is MillerCoors at No. 2. MillerCoors is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co. and Golden, Colorado-based Molson Coors Brewing Company. The Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin, which brews Huber, Rhinelander and Mountain Crest brands, ranked No. 14 and New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wisconsin, whose brands include Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel and Uff-da, ranked No. 32.
Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, two sitcoms that aired on ABC in the 1970s and 1980s, were set in Milwaukee, and often used the Milwaukee breweries as a backdrop for the storyline.
Milwaukee's economy today
In 2007, three Milwaukee-area companies were among nine firms honored for manufacturing excellence in the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year competition. Astronautics Corporation of America and Brady Corporation, both of which have headquarters in Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Plating Works Inc., Racine, each received special awards. Privately held Astronautics, a major supplier of government and commercial avionics, was honored for its high-technology research and development program. Brady, a publicly owned manufacturer of signs, labels and other identification and security products, received an award for corporate excellence. Privately owned Wisconsin Plating Works, which provides metal finishing services, received an award for employee and environmental stewardship. Nominated companies were evaluated in areas such as financial growth or consistency, technological advances, product development, environmental solutions, operational excellence/continuous improvement, commitment to employees, and effective research and development.
Milwaukee is the home to the international headquarters of six Fortune 500 companies: Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower, Rockwell Automation, Harley-Davidson and Joy Global. Other companies based in Milwaukee include Briggs & Stratton, Alliance Federated Energy, Marshall & Ilsley (acquired by BMO Harris Bank in 2010), Hal Leonard, Wisconsin Energy, the American Society for Quality, A. O. Smith, Rexnord, Master Lock, American Signal Corporation, GE Healthcare Diagnostic Imaging and Clinical Systems and MGIC Investments. The Milwaukee metropolitan area ranks fifth in the United States in terms of the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters as a share of the population. Milwaukee also has a large number of financial service firms, particularly those specializing in mutual funds and transaction processing systems, and a number of publishing and printing companies.
Service and managerial jobs are the fastest-growing segments of the Milwaukee economy, and health care alone makes up 27% the jobs in the city.
In 2009, five Milwaukee-area companies were selected as leaders in their industries as Fortune magazine recognized "The World's Most-Admired Companies." Two Milwaukee companies ranked second in their field: Manpower Inc. in the temporary help industry and Northwestern Mutual in life and health insurance. Johnson Controls Inc., Glendale, placed fourth among motor-vehicle parts firms. Ranked fifth were Fiserv Inc., Brookfield, in financial data services and Kohl's Corp., Menomonee Falls, among general merchandisers.
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.
- 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 similarly 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 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
- 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 contains a 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 ten years of age and is filled with hands-on exhibits and interactive programs, offering families a chance to learn together. Voted one of the top ten 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. The Domes are deteriorating rapidly "and the popular horticultural conservatory will close within a few years unless $30 million is found to do just basic repairs."
Social and cultural history
- 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, featured exhibits which chronicle the injustices suffered throughout history by African Americans in the United States. The museum first closed in July 2008 as a result of financial difficulties. The museum reopened in 2012 as a virtual museum with the original building demolished. As of 2018 a new building housing the museum has opened.
- 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 Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee's aviation and historical enthusiasts experience the history of Milwaukee 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 number 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:
- Bel Canto Chorus
- First Stage Children's Theater
- Florentine Opera
- Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
- Miller High Life Theatre
- Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
- Milwaukee Youth Arts Center
- Milwaukee Ballet
- Milwaukee Repertory Theater
- Milwaukee Opera Theatre
- Milwaukee Public Theatre
- Milwaukee Youth Theatre
- Pabst Theater
- Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps
- Present Music
- The Rave /Eagles Ballroom
- Riverside Theater
- Skylight Music Theatre
- Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
- Turner Hall
- Fiserv Forum
- Miller Park
- UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena
- 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.
The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center
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
Leif Ericson monument
Tadeusz Kościuszko monument in Kosciuszko Park in Historic Lincoln Village.
City of Festivals
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, in 2017 Summerfest attracted 831,769. 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.
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.
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.
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. Founded in 1968, Summerfest features 700-800 live musical acts across 12 stages during 11 days over a 12-day period beginning in late June; while the dates adjust each year, Summerfest always includes July 4. On the Summerfest grounds, the largest venue is the American Family Insurance Amphitheater with a 23,000 person capacity. Adjacent is the BMO Harris Pavilion, which has a capacity of roughly 10,000. The BMO Harris Pavilion also hosts numerous concerts and events outside of Summerfest; other stages are also used during the numerous other festivals held on the grounds.
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), IshDARR (rap) and Decibully (indie).
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.
Currently, Milwaukee's sports teams include:
|Milwaukee Bavarians||Soccer||1929||United Premier Soccer League||Heartland Value Fund Stadium|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Basketball||1968||National Basketball Association||Fiserv Forum|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Baseball||1970||National League (MLB)||Miller Park|
|Marquette Golden Eagles||Basketball||1916||NCAA Big East Conference||Fiserv Forum|
|Milwaukee Admirals||Hockey||1970||American Hockey League||UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena|
|Milwaukee Wave||Indoor soccer||1984||Major Arena Soccer League||UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena|
|Brewcity Bruisers||Roller Derby||2006||WFTDA||UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena|
Though the city currently has no NFL team (it supported the Milwaukee Badgers in the 1920s), Milwaukee is considered a home market for the Green Bay Packers. The team split its home schedule between Green Bay and Milwaukee from 1933 to 1994, with the majority of the Milwaukee games being played at County Stadium. Former season ticketholders for the Milwaukee games continue to receive preference for one pre-season and the second and fifth regular season games at Lambeau Field each season, along with playoff games through a lottery under the "Gold Package" plan. The Packers' longtime flagship station is Milwaukee-based WTMJ AM 620.
Milwaukee has a rich history of involvement in professional and nonprofessional sports, since the 19th century. Abraham Lincoln watched cricket in Milwaukee in 1849 when he attended a game between Chicago and Milwaukee. In 1854, the Milwaukee Cricket Club had 150 members.
Milwaukee was also the host city of the International Cycling Classic, which included the men's and women's Superweek Pro Tour races, featuring top professional and elite amateur cyclists and teams from across the U.S. and more than 20 foreign countries.
Parks and recreation
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 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 Gardeners' 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.
Government and politics
Milwaukee has a mayor-council form of government. With the election of Mayor John O. Norquist in 1988, the city adopted a cabinet form of government with the mayor appointing those department heads not otherwise elected or appointed—notably the Fire and Police Chiefs. While this gave the mayor greater control of the day-to-day operations of the city, the Common Council retains almost complete control over the city's finances and the mayor, with the exception of his proposed annual budget, cannot directly introduce legislation. The Common Council consists of 15 members, one from each district in the city. Milwaukee has a history of giving long tenures to its mayors; from Frank Zeidler to current mayor Tom Barrett, the city has had only four mayors in the last 60 years. When 28-year incumbent Henry Maier retired in 1988, he held the record for longest term of service for a city of Milwaukee's size.
In addition to the election of a Mayor and Common Council on the city level, Milwaukee residents elect county representatives to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, as well as a Milwaukee County Executive. The current County Executive is Chris Abele.
Milwaukee has been a Democratic stronghold for more than a century at the federal level. At the local level, Socialists frequently won the mayorship and (for briefer periods) other city and county offices during much of the first sixty years of the 20th century. The city is split between seven state Senate districts, each of which is composed of three Assembly districts. All but four state legislators representing the city are Democrats; the four Republicans—two in the State Assembly and two in the State Senate—represent outer portions of the city that are part of districts dominated by heavily Republican suburban counties. In 2008, Barack Obama won Milwaukee with 77% of the vote. Tim Carpenter (D), Lena Taylor (D), Leah Vukmir (R), Nikiya Harris (D), Chris Larson (D), Alberta Darling (R), and Mary Lazich (R) represent Milwaukee in the Wisconsin State Senate, and Daniel Riemer (D), JoCasta Zamarripa (D), Josh Zepnick (D), David Bowen (D), Mandela Barnes (D), Frederick P. Kessler (D), Rob Hutton (R), Dale P. Kooyenga (R), Leon Young (D), La Tonya Johnson (D), Evan Goyke (D), Jonathan Brostoff (D), Christine Sinicki (D), Janel Brandtjen (R), and Mike Kuglitsch (R) represent Milwaukee in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Milwaukee makes up the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin's 4th congressional district. The district is heavily Democratic. The Democratic primary for the seat is considered more important than the general election. The district is currently represented by Democrat Gwen Moore. A Republican has not represented a significant portion of Milwaukee in Congress since Charles J. Kersten lost his seat in the 5th district in 1954 to Democrat Henry S. Reuss. The small portions of the city extending into Waukesha and Washington counties are part of the 5th District, represented by Republican Jim Sensenbrenner.
A Mexican Consulate is also located in Milwaukee that serves a total of 65 counties in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
For several years, Milwaukee ranked among the ten most dangerous large cities in the United States. Despite its improvement since then, Milwaukee still fares worse when comparing specific crime types to the national average (e.g., homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) The Milwaukee Police Department's Gang Unit was reactivated in 2004 after Nannette Hegerty was sworn in as chief. In 2006, 4,000 charges were brought against suspects through Milwaukee's Gang Unit. In 2013 there were 105 murders in Milwaukee and 87 homicides the following year. In 2015, 146 people were killed in the city. In 2018, Milwaukee was ranked the eighth most dangerous city in the US.
Milwaukee currently ranks as the second poorest U.S. city with over 500,000 residents, falling behind only Detroit. In 2013, a Point-In-Time survey estimated 1,500 people are homeless on Milwaukee's streets each night. The city's homeless and poor are aided by several local nonprofits, including the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
Primary and secondary education
Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) is the largest school district in Wisconsin and thirty third in the nation. As of 2007, it had an enrollment of 89,912 students and as of 2006 employed 11,100 full-time and substitute teachers in 323 schools. Milwaukee Public Schools operate as magnet schools, with individualized specialty areas for interests in academics or the arts. Washington High School, Riverside University High School, Rufus King High School, Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School, Samuel Morse Middle School for the Gifted and Talented, Golda Meir School, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, and Lynde & Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School are some of the magnet schools in Milwaukee. In 2007, 17 MPS high schools appeared on a national list of "dropout factories" – schools where fewer than 60% of freshmen graduate on time. Milwaukee is also home to over two dozen private or parochial high schools and many private and parochial middle and elementary schools.
Of persons in Milwaukee aged 25 and above, 86.9% have a high school diploma, and 29.7% have a bachelor's degree or higher. (2012)
Milwaukee area universities and colleges:
- Alverno College
- The Art Institute of Wisconsin
- Bryant and Stratton
- Cardinal Stritch University
- Concordia University Wisconsin
- Herzing University
- Marquette University
- Medical College of Wisconsin (Wauwatosa)
- Milwaukee Area Technical College
- Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
- Milwaukee School of Engineering
- Mount Mary University
- National-Louis University
- University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
- Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study
- Wisconsin Lutheran College
Milwaukee's daily newspaper is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which was formed when the morning paper the Milwaukee Sentinel merged with the afternoon paper Milwaukee Journal. The city has two free distribution alternative publications, Shepherd Express and Wisconsin Gazette. Other local newspapers, city guides and magazines with large distributions include M Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, The Bay View Compass, and Riverwest Currents. OnMilwaukee.com is an online magazine providing news and events. The UWM Post is the independent, student-run weekly at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Milwaukee's major network television affiliates are WTMJ 4 (NBC), WITI 6 (Fox), WISN 12 (ABC), WVTV 18 (CW), WVTV-DT2 24 (MyNetworkTV), and WDJT 58 (CBS). Spanish-language programming is on WTSJ 38 (Azteca America) and WYTU-LD 63 (Telemundo). Milwaukee's public broadcasting stations are WMVS 10 and WMVT 36.
Other television stations in the Milwaukee market include WMKE-CD 7 (Quest), WVCY 30 (FN), WBME-CD 41 (Me-TV), WMLW-TV 49 (Independent), WWRS 52 (TBN), Sportsman Channel, and WPXE 55 (ION)
There are numerous radio stations throughout Milwaukee and the surrounding area.
Until 2015, Journal Communications (a NYSE-traded corporation) published the Journal Sentinel and well over a dozen local weekly newspapers in the metropolitan area. At that time, Journal was split into the Journal Media Group for publishing, while the television and radio stations went to the E. W. Scripps Company (Journal founded WTMJ-TV, along with WTMJ and WKTI). As a result, it was criticized for having a near-monopoly in local news coverage. Journal Media Group merged with Gannett in 2017, while Scripps sold the radio stations in 2018 to Good Karma Brands, effectively splitting off the monopoly completely.
The RedLetterMedia company, an online leader in film criticism, parody, and indie films, is based in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee's health care industry includes several health systems. The Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex, between 8700 and 9200 West Wisconsin Avenue, is on the Milwaukee County grounds. This area includes the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, the Ronald McDonald House, Curative Rehabilitation, and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Aurora Health Care includes St. Luke's Medical Center, Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Aurora West Allis Medical Center, and St. Luke's SouthShore. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare includes St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, The Wisconsin Heart Hospital, Elmbrook Memorial (Brookfield), and other outpatient clinics in the Milwaukee area. Columbia St. Mary's Hospital is on Milwaukee's lakeshore and has established affiliations with Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The Medical College of Wisconsin is one of two medical schools in Wisconsin and the only one in Milwaukee.
Other health care non-profit organizations in Milwaukee include national headquarters of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the Endometriosis Association.
Milwaukee has two airports, Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (KMKE) on the southern edge of the city, which handles the region's commercial traffic, and Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport (KMWC), known locally as Timmerman Field, on the northwest side along Appleton Avenue.
Mitchell is served by twelve airlines, which offer roughly 240 daily departures and 245 daily arrivals. Approximately 90 cities are served nonstop or direct from Mitchell International. It is the largest airport in Wisconsin and the 34th largest in the nation. The airport terminal is open 24 hours a day. Since 2005, Mitchell International Airport has been connected by the Amtrak Hiawatha train service, which provides airport access via train to Chicago and downtown Milwaukee. Southwest, Frontier Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Delta Air Lines are among the carriers using Milwaukee's Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport gates. In July 2015, Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport served 610,271 passengers.
Intercity rail and bus
Milwaukee's Amtrak station was renovated in 2007 to create the Milwaukee Intermodal Station near downtown Milwaukee and the Third Ward to provide Amtrak riders access to Greyhound Lines, Jefferson Lines and other intercity bus operators. Milwaukee is served by the Amtrak Hiawatha express service up to seven times daily between the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Chicago Union Station, including a stop at the Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station, Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Glenview, Illinois. The Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train stops at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and connects to Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, with stops near Madison, Wisconsin Dells, and Minneapolis.
In 2010, $800 million in federal funds were allocated to the creation of high-speed rail links from Milwaukee to Chicago and Madison; but the funds were eventually rejected by the then newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In 2016, WisDOT and IDOT conducted studies to upgrade service on the Amtrak Hiawatha line from seven to ten times daily between downtown Milwaukee and downtown Chicago.
- Bus: The Milwaukee County Transit System provides bus services within Milwaukee County. The renovated Milwaukee Intermodal Station provides Jefferson Lines intercity bus riders access to Amtrak and Greyhound Lines, as well as 24 hour Megabus service. Additionally, the Badger Bus station in downtown Milwaukee provides bus service between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin.
- Light Rail: A modern light rail system, "The Hop", connects the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, downtown Milwaukee, and Ogden Avenue on the city's Lower East Side. The line began service November 2, 2018 with future plans for extensions the lakefront and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Commuter rail: Milwaukee currently has no commuter rail system. Previous efforts to develop one proposed a 0.5% sales tax in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties to fund an expansion of Metra's Union Pacific / North Line from Kenosha to Milwaukee Intermodal Station. However, Wisconsin repealed the legislation authorizing such efforts in June 2011, and the project is now defunct.
Three of Wisconsin's Interstate highways intersect in Milwaukee. Interstate 94 (I-94) comes north from Chicago to enter Milwaukee and continues west to Madison. The stretch of I-94 from Seven Mile Rd. to the Marquette Interchange in Downtown Milwaukee is known as the North-South Freeway. I-94 from Downtown Milwaukee west to Wisconsin 16 is known as the East-West Freeway.
I-43 enters Milwaukee from Beloit in the southwest and continues north along Lake Michigan to Green Bay via Sheboygan and Manitowoc. I-43 southwest of I-41/I-894/US 41/US 45 Hale Interchange is known as the Rock Freeway. I-43 is cosigned with I-894 East and I-41/US 41 South to I-94 is known as the Airport Freeway. At I-94, I-43 follows I-94 to the Marquette Interchange. I-43 continues north known as the North-South Freeway to Wisconsin Highway 57 near Port Washington.
Approved in 2015, Interstate 41 follows I-94 north from the state line before turning west at the Mitchell Interchange to the Hale Interchange and then north to Green Bay via Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Appleton. I-41/US 41/US 45 from the Hale Interchange to Wisconsin Hwy 145 is known as the Zoo Freeway.
Milwaukee has two auxiliary Interstate Highways, I-894 and I-794. I-894 bypasses Downtown Milwaukee on the west and south sides of the city from the Zoo Interchange to the Mitchell Interchange. I-894 is part of the Zoo Freeway and the Airport Freeway. I-794 extends east from the Marquette Interchange to Lake Michigan before turning south over the Hoan Bridge toward Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, turning into Highway 794 along the way. This is known as the Lake Freeway.
Milwaukee is also served by three US Highways. U.S. Highway 18 (US 18) provides a link from Downtown to points west heading to Waukesha along Wells St, 17th/16th Sts, Highland Ave, 35th St, Wisconsin Ave and Blue Mound Rd. US 41 and US 45 both provide north–south freeway transportation on the western side of the city. The freeway system in Milwaukee carries roughly 25% of all travel in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee County is also served by several Wisconsin highways. These include the following:
- Hwy. 24 (Forest Home Ave.)
- Hwy. 32 (Chicago Ave., College Ave., S. Lake Dr., Howard Ave., Kinnickinnic Ave., 1st St., Pittsburgh Ave., Milwaukee St., State St., Prospect Ave. NB/Farwell Ave. SB, Bradford Ave., N. Lake Dr., Brown Deer Rd.)
- Hwy. 36 (Loomis Rd.)
- Hwy. 38 (Howell Ave., Chase Ave., 6th St.)
- Hwy. 57 (20th St., Capitol Dr., Green Bay Ave.)
- Hwy. 59 (Greenfield Ave./National Ave.)
- Hwy. 100 (Ryan Rd., Lovers Lane Rd., 108th St., Mayfair Rd., Brown Deer Rd.)
- Hwy. 119 (Airport Spur)
- Hwy. 145 (Fond du Lac Ave, Fond du Lac Freeway)
- Hwy. 175 (Appleton Ave., Lisbon Ave., Stadium Freeway)
- Hwy 181 (84th St., Glenview Ave., Wauwatosa Ave., 76th St.)
- Hwy. 190 (Capitol Dr.)
- Hwy. 241 (27th St.)
- Hwy. 794 (Lake Pkwy.)
In 2010, the Milwaukee area was ranked the 4th best city for commuters by Forbes.
Milwaukee's main port, Port of Milwaukee, handled 2.4 million metric tons of cargo through its municipal port in 2014. Steel and salt are handled at the port.
Milwaukee connects with Muskegon, Michigan through the Lake Express high-speed auto and passenger ferry. The Lake Express travels across Lake Michigan from late spring to the fall of each year.
Milwaukee has over 105 miles (169 km) of bicycle lanes and trails, most of which run alongside or near its rivers and Lake Michigan. The Oak Leaf Trail, a multi-use recreational trail, provides bicycle trails throughout the city and county. Still pending are the creation of bicycle lanes along major commuting routes, such as the Hoan Bridge connector between downtown and the suburbs to the south. The city has also identified over 250 miles (400 km) of streets on which bike lanes will fit. It has created a plan labeling 145 miles (233 km) of those as high priority for receiving bike lanes. As part of the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force's mission to "make Milwaukee more bicycle and pedestrian friendly", over 700 bike racks have been installed throughout the city. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin holds an annual Bike to Work Week. The event, held in May each year, has frequently featured a commuter race between a car, a bus, and a bike; and also a morning ride into work with the mayor. In 2006, Milwaukee obtained bronze-level status from the League of American Bicyclists, a rarity for a city its size.
In 2009, the Milwaukee County Transit System began installing bicycle racks to the front of county buses. This "green" effort was part of a settlement of an asbestos lawsuit leveled by the state at the county in 2006. The lawsuit cites the release of asbestos into the environment when the Courthouse Annex was demolished.
In August 2014, Milwaukee debuted a bicycle sharing system called Bublr Bikes, which is a partnership between the City of Milwaukee and a local non-profit Midwest Bike Share (dba Bublr Bikes). As of September 2016, the system operates 39 stations throughout downtown, the East Side, and the UW-Milwaukee campus area and near downtown neighborhoods. The City of Milwaukee installed another ten Bublr Bikes stations in October 2016, and the adjacent suburb of Wauwatosa installed eight stations in September 2016, which will bring the system size to 58 stations by the end of 2016. More stations are scheduled for installation in the Village of Shorewood and the City of West Allis in 2017. Future system expansion in the City of Milwaukee is also expected as the City was awarded a second federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) program grant ($1.9 million) to add more stations starting in 2018.
A 2015 study by Walk Score ranked Milwaukee as the 15th most walkable out of the 50 largest U.S. cities. As a whole, the city has a score of 62 out of 100. However, several of the more densely populated neighborhoods have much higher scores: Juneautown has a score of 95; the Lower East Side has a score of 91; Yankee Hill scored 91; and the Marquette and Murray Hill neighborhoods both scored 89 each. Those ratings range from "A Walker's Paradise" to "Very Walkable."
According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 71% of working city of Milwaukee residents commuted by driving alone, 10.4% carpooled, 8.2% used public transportation, and 4.9% walked. About 2% used all other forms of transportation, including taxicab, motorcycle, and bicycle. About 3.4% of working city of Milwaukee residents worked at home. In 2015, 17.9% of city of Milwaukee households were without a car, which increased to 18.7% in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Milwaukee averaged 1.34 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8 per household.
On February 10, 2015, a streetcar connecting the Milwaukee Intermodal Station with the city's lower east side was approved by the Common Council, bringing if not to a halt then at least to a pause, decades of sometimes acrimonious debate. On a 9–6 vote, the council approved a measure that established the project's $124 million capital budget, its estimated $3.2 million operating and maintenance budget and its 2.5-mile (4.0 km) route, which includes a lakefront spur connecting the line to the proposed $122 million, 44-story Couture. Construction on the Milwaukee Streetcar began March 2017, with initial operation by mid-2018. The Lakefront service is expected to start operation by 2019.
Fiserv Forum, a new multipurpose arena located at 1111 Vel R. Phillips Avenue, has been built to accommodate the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette Golden Eagles. Construction on the $524 million project began in November 2015 and opened to the public on August 26, 2018. The arena is intended to be the focal point of a "live block" zone that includes public space surrounded by both commercial and residential developments. The arena has a transparent facade and a curved roof and side that is meant to evoke the water forms of nearby Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River.
As of 2018, Milwaukee has eight sister cities and one friendship city around the world:
- Ningbo, China
Officials from Milwaukee and Ningbo have signed an agreement to promote business and cultural ties between the two cities and their respective nations.
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