1902 Encyclopedia > Milwaukee


MILWAUKEE, the largest city in the State of Wisconsin, United States, is situated on the west shore of Lake Michigan, 100 miles north of its southern end, 80 miles north of Chicago, and 1000 miles north-west of New York by rail, in 43° 3' N. lat., 87° 56' W. long. (44 min. W. of Washington). The shore of the lake is 600 feet above the level of the sea.

The Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers unite in the centre of the business portion of the city, about half a mile from their entrance to Lake Michigan, where they are joined by a third and smaller stream—the Kinnikinnic. A bay 6 miles from cape to cape, and 3 miles broad, stretches in front of thé city, which commands a fine water view, the ground rising along the shore 80 feet above the level of the lake, then gradually sloping westward to the Milwaukee river, and again rising on the west and north to a height of 125 feet. The ground also rises to a com-manding elevation south of the valley of the Menomonee. Few cities present so many natural attractions of site, as indeed its Indian name indicates ("the beautiful hollow or bay"); and art has added to nature. In the residence parts of the city there are miles of avenues from 70 to 100 feet wide, lined on both sides with elms and maples, be-hind which stand handsome houses with spacious lawns, fountains, and evergreens, giving the appearance of a con-tinuous park. The material used for building is largely the cream-coloured brick made in the vicinity, from which Milwaukee is sometimes called the " Cream City." The climate, tempered by the great lake, is remarkably pleasant and healthy. The mean temperature, as shown by the records of twenty years, is 46°-7 Fahr. The coldest month is January (average 22°'37), the hottest July (70°'4). During the last nine years the average death-rate has been but 20 per 1000, showing it to be one of the healthiest of American cities. Besides a full complement of the usual religious and charitable institutions, there is adjoining the city the national home for disabled United States volunteer soldiers, consisting of several buildings situated in grounds of 400 acres extent, which serve the purpose of a city park. There are numerous lodges be-longing to the freemasons and other guilds; and the Turners' societies, which embrace a large membership and own some valuable buildings, have done much to create and keep up the practice of athletic exercises among the citizens. Two excellent musical societies are also established here.

Before the year 1835 Milwaukee was known only as an Indian trading-post occupied by a Frenchman named Solomon Juneau, who is generally spoken of as the founder of the city. The total inhabitants in 1838 numbered only 700; in 1840 there were 1712; but in 1846 the popula-tion amounted to 9666, in 1850 to 20,061, in 1855 to 30,118, in 1860 to 45,246, in 1870 to 71,440, and in 1880 to 115,578 (57,475 males, 58,103 females). In 1882 the population was estimated at 130,000,—more than one half of them of foreign parentage, a very large majority being Germans. Notwithstanding the multitude of nation-alities represented in the population, there are few cities more orderly and law-abiding, the number of police employed being less than one for every 1500 inhabitants. Another feature worthy of mention is the large proportion of families who own their own houses, and this is true not only as to the mercantile and professional classes, but especially as to the labouring population. Although the grain trade, formerly very large here, has now greatly diminished, the growth and prosperity of the city have not materially suffered, owing to the development of manu-facturing industries, for which the low rents, healthy climate, and advantageous location make it well adapted. About a sixth of the population are engaged in the manufacture of clothing, cigars, cooperage, leather, bricks, sashes, doors, and blinds, machinery, and flour (of which one million of barrels are annually made), and in meat-packing. Milwaukee has become famous for its " lager beer," of which there are one million of barrels annually produced, valued at $8,000,000. The lake commerce is very large. The tonnage entered and cleared in 1880 was 5,322,373 tons, being about as large as that of Baltimore, Boston, or Philadelphia. The Wisconsin Central, the Milwaukee and Lake Shore, the Milwaukee and Northern, and the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Paul Railways have their head offices here, and the last-named, owning 4000 miles of lines, has immense workshops in the Menomonee valley near the city.

Milwaukee is governed by a mayor and a common council of thirty-nine aldermen. The streets and public buildings are under the charge of the board of public works, composed of three commissioners and the city engineer, all subject to the common council. A bountiful supply of water is obtained from the lake, and the streets are well supplied with sewers. The value of property as assessed for taxation was $62,000,000 in 1882,—the city debt being $2,500,000, mostly for the water-works, which are city property. There is an efficient system of public schools under a superintendent and board of school commissioners, the value of the buildings with their sites being estimated at $700,000. For the higher education there are a high school, a normal school, and three commercial colleges, while the Roman Catholics and Lutherans have several excellent denominational seminaries and colleges. A public library belonging to the city contained 20,000 volumes in 1882. (J. J.)


The monthly averages for twenty years are: —January, 22° "37 February, 2o°'13; March, 33°'35; April, 43°'94 ; May, o3075 June, 64°'39; July, 70°'04; August, 67°'S9; September, Gl°'68 October, 48°'48; November, 36°'27 ; December, 25°'53.

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