One of the periods of glaciation was also termed the Wisconsin glaciation. Wisconsin is an English version of a French adaptation of an Indian word. The Ojibwa word Meskousing meaning "gathering of the waters," was written as Ouisconsin by the French, and changed to its current form by the English. Wisconsin originally was applied to the Wisconsin River, and later to the area as a whole when Wisconsin became a territory. The state's name is abbreviated WI, Wis, or Wisc.
USS Wisconsin was named in honor of this state.
Main Article: History of Wisconsin
In 1634, Frenchman Jean Nicolet became Wisconsin's first European explorer. The French controlled the area until 1763, when it was ceded to the British.
After the American Revolutionary War, Wisconsin was a part of the U.S.Northwest Territory. It was then governed as part of Indiana Territory, Illinois Territory, and Michigan Territory. Wisconsin Territory was organized on July 3 1836 and became the 30th state on May 29 1848.
Wisconsin's political history encompasses, on the one hand, Fighting Bob La Follette and the Progressive movement; and on the other, Joe McCarthy, the controversial anti-communist censured by the Senate during the 1950s. The first Socialist mayor of a large city in the United States was Emil Seidel, elected mayor of Milwaukee in 1910; another Socialist, Daniel Hoan, was mayor of Milwaukee from 1916 to 1940. During both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, Wisconsin was considered a "swing" state due to its residents being relatively equally split between voting for the Democratic and Republican candidates. The state just barely (by about 5,700 votes) went for the Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, in 2000 and by 14,000 votes to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, both of whom lost the national election.
The state mineral is Galena otherwise known as lead sulfide which reflects Wisconsin's early mining history. Many town names such as Mineral Point, recall a period in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s when Wisconsin was an important mining state. When Indian treaties opened up southwest Wisconsin to settlement, thousands of miners—many of them immigrants from Cornwall, England—flocked to southern Wisconsin in what could almost be termed a "lead rush." At one point Wisconsin produced more than half of the nation's lead. During the boom it appeared that southwest Wisconsin might become the population center of the state, and Belmont was briefly the state capital. By the 1840s the easily-accessible deposits were worked out, and experienced miners were drawn out of Wisconsin by the California Gold Rush. This period of mining before and during the early years of statehood directly lead to the development of state's nickname, "the Badger State". Many miners and their families lived in the mines in which they worked until adequate above-ground shelters were built and were thus compared to Badgers.
Known as "America's Dairyland," Wisconsin is also known for cheese. Citizens of Wisconsin are nicknamed "Badgers" or more commonly "Cheeseheads" but perfer to be called Wisconsinites. The Milwaukee Art Museum known for it's Unique architecture is located in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is also home to the Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens which cover over 200 acres (800,000 m²) of land on the far west side of the city. Madison is also home to the Vilas Zoo which is free for all visitors as well as the University of Wisconsin.
Law and government
The capital is Madison and the largest city is Milwaukee. Beginning with the governorship of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. in the early 1900s and the state Progressive Party establishment soon thereafter, Wisconsin and in particular, Madison, have often been seen as leaders in labor, and social welfare legislation as well as legislation popularly termed "socially progressive". For example, in 1982 sexual orientation was added by the state legislature as a protected category under existing anti-discrimination laws, a step in the context of the 1980s seen as highly innovative.
The state is bordered by Lake Superior and Michigan to the north, by Lake Michigan to the east, by Illinois to the south, and by Iowa and Minnesota to the west. Part of the state's boundaries includes the Mississippi River and St. Croix River.
With its location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is home to a wide variety of geographical features. These features allow the state to be broken into five distinct regions. In the north, the Lake Superior Lowland occupies a belt of land along Lake Superior. Just to the south, the Northern Highland includes the state's highest point, Timms Hill, as well as massive forests and thousands of small glacial lakes. In the middle of the state, the Central Plain possesses some unique sandstone formations like the Dells of the Wisconsin River in addition to rich farmland. The Eastern Ridges and Lowlands region in the southeast is home to many of Wisconsin's largest cities. In the southwest, the Western Upland is a rugged landscape with a mix of forest and farmland.
The varied landscape of Wisconsin makes the state a vacation destination popular for outdoor recreation. Winter events include curling matches and snowmobile derbies. The distinctive Door Peninsula , which extends off of the eastern coast of the state, contains one of the state's most beautiful tourist destinations, Door County. The area draws thousands of visitors yearly to its quaint villages, seasonal cherry picking, and ever-popular fish boils.
Wisconsin's self-promotion as "America's Dairyland" sometimes leads to a mistaken impression that it is an exclusively rural state. In fact Wisconsin contains cities and towns of all sizes. Milwaukee is a city slightly larger than Boston and part of a largely developed string of cities that stretches down the western edge of Lake Michigan into greater Chicago and also into northwestern Indiana. This string of cities along the western edge of Lake Michigan is generally considered to be an example of a megalopolis. Madison's triple identity as state capital, university town, and working city give it a cultural richness unusual in a city its size. Medium-sized cities dot the state and anchor a network of working farms surrounding them.
In addition to cheese, Wisconsin is known for its beer, bratwursts, cranberries and many festivals, such as Summerfest and the EAA Oshkosh Airshow. Wisconsin is also the largest producer by volume of ginseng, cranberries, and paper products in the United States. The once coveted title of top milk producer no longer belongs to Wisconsin; the position of top milk producer is now held by California.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Wisconsin's population was estimated at 5,472,299 people.
The racial makeup of the state is:
The 5 largest ancestry groups in Wisconsin are German (42.6%), Irish (10.9%), Polish (9.3%), Norwegian (8.5%), English (6.5%)
6.4% of Wisconsin's population were reported as under 5, 25.5% under 18, and 13.1% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.6% of the population.
The religious affiliations of the citizens of Wisconsin are:
- Protestant – 51%
- Roman Catholic – 39%
- Other Christian – 1%
- Other Religions – 1%
- Non-Religious – 6%
The three largest Protestant denominations in Wisconsin are: Lutheran (26% of the total state population), Methodist (6%), Baptist (4%).
Important cities and villages
Cities and villages are incorporated urban areas in Wisconsin. Towns are unincorporated minor civil divisions of counties.
Cities in Wisconsin with population of 50,000 or more as of 2000 include:
Milwaukee, pop. 596,125 (1,500,741 in metropolitan area)
Madison - pop. 208,856, state capital, flagship campus of University of Wisconsin
Green Bay, pop. 102,263, home of Green Bay Packers football team
Kenosha, pop. 90,625; considered part of the greater "Chicagoland" area; site of Kenosha Velodrome, opened in 1927, oldest operating velodrome in the U. S.; International HQ of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Racine, pop. 81,703, headquarters of S. C. Johnson (Johnson Wax) with Frank Lloyd Wright-designed administration building. Once home of the Racine Belles , an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team.
Appleton, pop. 70,232. Location of Lawrence University and the Harry Houdini Historical Center, controversial for a 2004 exhibit showing the secret of Houdini's famous "Metamorphosis" trick
Waukesha, pop. 65,092
Oshkosh, pop. 63,325. Home of the busiest airport in the world—during the week when the Experimental Aircraft Association, devoted to hobbyist-built aircraft, holds its annual Oshkosh Airshow.
Eau Claire, pop. 61,792
Janesville, pop. 60,294. Home to a major General Motors assembly plant, 3.5 million square feet (32 hectares) in size.
West Allis, pop. 60,254. Home of the Pettit National Ice Center (formerly the West Allis Olympic Ice Rink ), training center for the U. S. Olympic speedskating team, and the West Allis Speedskating Club , which as of 2005 has nurtured 17 Olympians and 95 national champions.
La Crosse, pop. 51,907
Other cities include:
Antigo, pop. 8,560,
Baraboo, pop. 10,717, home of Circus World Museum
Beloit, pop. 35,821, home of Beloit College
Portage, pop. 9,728, birthplace of Frederick Jackson Turner, Zona Gale
Ripon birthplace of the Republican Party, 1854
Stevens Point, pop. 24,539, home of the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, commemorating Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and others
Superior, pop. 27,389
Waterloo, pop. 3,259, home to the headquarters of one of the world's largest bicycle manufacturers, Trek Bicycle Corporation
Watertown site of the first kindergarten in the United States
Wausau, pop. 38,469
Wisconsin Dells, pop. 2,418 (approx. 4,000 including Lake Delton) popular resort area, home of Tommy Bartlett's thrill shows and numerous hotels and themeparks.
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, pop. 18,435
Colleges and universities
Wisconsin became a state in 1848
- UW Colleges
- UW-Baraboo/Sauk County
- UW-Fond du Lac
- UW-Fox Valley
- UW-Marathon County
- UW-Marshfield/Wood County
- UW-Rock County
- UW-Washington County
- Wisconsin Technical College System
- Blackhawk Technical College
- Chippewa Valley Technical College
- Fox Valley Technical College
- Gateway Technical College
- Lakeshore Technical College
Madison Area Technical College
- Mid-State Technical College
- Milwaukee Area Technical College
- Moraine Park Technical College
- Nicolet Area Technical College
- Northcentral Technical College
- Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
- Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
- Waukesha County Technical College
- Western Wisconsin Technical College
- Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Professional sports teams