The New International Encyclopædia/Milwaukee

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MILWAU′KEE. The largest city in Wisconsin, a port of entry, and the county-seat of Milwaukee County. It is situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Milwaukee River, 85 miles north of Chicago and 83 miles east of the State capital, Madison (Map: Wisconsin, F 5).

The city occupies an area of about 22 square miles, divided by the Milwaukee River and its affluents, the Menominee and Kinnickinnie, and is one of the most beautiful cities of the Northwest. It has an elevation of from 600 to 700 feet above sea level, rising from 80 to 125 feet above Lake Michigan, and reaching its greatest height in Kilbourn Park, which affords a fine view. The business quarter is near the Milwaukee River, while the largest and most beautiful residence sections lie to the west and east, and are characterized by handsomely shaded avenues and detached houses. The accessibility of popular health and pleasure resorts and the beauty of its suburbs add to the attractions of Milwaukee. Among these suburbs is the city of Wauwatosa—the seat of the State Fair Grounds and of a group of county institutions: almshouse, hospital, hospital for the insane, chronic insane asylum, and a children's home. Milwaukee is laid out in broad streets, 310 miles of which are paved out of a total street mileage of 520. The famous cream-colored Milwaukee brick, which is largely used in the construction of the buildings, lends a distinctive architectural appearance to the city. The rivers are spanned by a number of bridges, and there are three viaducts, one of which, over the Menominee Valley, is nearly a mile long.

Buildings and Institutions. Among the most prominent buildings are the city hall, occupying a triangular block and commanding from its tower a good view of the city; the county courthouse of brown sandstone; the United States Government building, a massive granite structure, erected at a cost of $1,750,000; and the public library and museum. The library has 120,000 volumes and maintains a number of branches in various parts of the city. The Layton Art Gallery is located in a fine building and possesses a valuable collection. In the Industrial Exposition Building annual exhibitions are held. The Chamber of Commerce, Athenæum, Lighthouse, Squadron Armory, Saint Paul's Church (Protestant Episcopal), Church of Gesu (Roman Catholic), and the Wells Building, the Herman Building, and the Germania, Pabst, and Mitchell buildings also are noteworthy structures. A mile west of the city limits is a National Soldiers' Home, accommodating 2400 inmates and surrounded by 400 acres of well-kept grounds.

Milwaukee is the seat of Concordia College (Lutheran) and Marquette College (Roman Catholic), both opened in 1881, and of Milwaukee Downer College for women, opened in 1895, having been established on the foundation of the Milwaukee Female College, which was organized in 1849. There are also a State Normal School and two medical colleges, besides a large number of public and parochial schools. The Johnston Emergency Hospital, the Milwaukee General Hospital, the United States Marine Hospital, and the State Industrial Home for Girls are among a large number of charitable institutions of various kinds. Owing to the large population of German birth and descent, Turner and musical societies play an unusually important part in the club and society life of the city. Milwaukee is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop and of a Protestant Episcopal bishop.

Parks. The public park system comprises about 500 acres. It includes Lake Park (124 acres) on the lake, laid out with fine drives and bicycle paths; Washington Park (148 acres) with an island-studded lake, a dense growth of timber, picnic and athletic grounds, and a deer preserve; Riverside, Sherman, Humboldt, Mitchell, and Kosciusko parks; and Juneau Park on the lake front. The last commemorates, by its name and a monument, the founder of the city; it has also a statue of Leif Ericson. Statues of Washington and Bergh, and a Soldiers' Monument are in other sections of the city. The city water tower, near Lake Park, marks the North Point Pumping Station. There are also several parks, from 1 to 20 acres in area, in various parts of the city. These smaller resorts are owned by the wards in which they are situated. Forest Home Cemetery is worthy of mention as one of the most beautiful in the United States.

Commerce and Industry. Milwaukee is favorably located with reference to extensive resources of farm, mine, and forest. It enjoys the advantages of water transportation afforded by the Great Lakes, in addition to excellent railroad facilities. Among the railways that enter the city are the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul, the Chicago and Northwestern, the Wisconsin Central, and the Pere Marquette. The city has become important both as a collecting and a distributing centre, and is noted also for its manufacturing enterprises. Its wholesale trade exceeds $300,000,000 annually. There is an excellent harbor protected by a breakwater. In the shipments eastward there is competition between the lake system of transportation and the railroads, while a considerable traffic crosses Lake Michigan and finishes its transit east by rail. In the lake commerce the shipments far exceed the receipts. The principal commodity received from the East is coal, which reaches Milwaukee by way of the lakes. Milwaukee's foreign trade, which consists chiefly of imports, is comparatively inconsiderable. The following table shows the receipts and shipments of some of the principal articles for the year 1900:


 Receipts   Shipments 



Flour Barrels 
Wheat Bushels 
Corn Bushels 
Oats Bushels 
Barley Bushels 
Rye Bushels 
Lumber  Feet 
Coal Tons 
3,012,625  3,788,658 
9,631,380  2,166,431 
5,780,400  4,958,140 
8,506,100  7,962,204 
15,963,100  8,348,776 
1,165,150  793,398 
 194,229,000   19,934,000 
1,807,493  674,472 

With respect to corn and oats, the city is primarily a distributing rather than a consuming centre. It will be noted, however, that there is a marked difference between the receipts and the shipments of barley and wheat, Milwaukee being a large consumer of these products in the milling and brewing industries. Barley is used principally in the manufacture of beer, which is one of the most notable industries of the city. No other American city enjoys so high a reputation for its beer. The value of the malt liquors produced in the census year 1900 was $13,899,390, and of malt $2,317,870. The output of the flour and grist mills in the same year was valued at $6,357,983. The most important industry, and one that is developing rapidly, is the manufacture of foundry and machine-shop products, the value of which in 1900 was $14,495,362. Other large industries are tanning, currying, and finishing of leather, the value of that product in 1900 being $10,267,835, and the manufacture of iron and steel products which were valued at $7,210,213. Slaughtering and meat-packing, and the manufacture of clothing, lumber, and planing-mill products, boots and shoes, and agricultural implements also are important. The value of all manufactured products according to the census of 1900 was $123,786,449. Statistics compiled by local authorities show an immense increase in the output for 1901 and 1902, over that returned by the census. The gain in the production of iron, steel, and machinery has been especially noteworthy.

Government. Milwaukee is governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen, consisting of 46 members—two from each ward. Other elective officers are the treasurer, comptroller, attorney, justices of the peace, and constables. The term of all officers, except the city attorney, who serves four years, is two years. The various administrative boards and heads of departments—the board of public works, commissioner of health, chief of fire department, and chief of police—are appointed by the mayor with the approval of the board of aldermen. The board of school directors is chosen by four school board commissioners, appointed by the mayor, not more than two of whom can be of one political party. The mayor also appoints the commissioners of the public debt. The mayor, city clerk, tax commissioner, and ward assessors constitute a board of review for correction of assessment rolls. The civil service system is under the supervision of a board of civil service commissioners. The bonded debt of Milwaukee in 1902 was $7,152,750, and the floating debt $137,010, making a total debt of $7,289,760. The legal borrowing limit is 5 per cent. of the average assessed valuation for five years. The legal basis of assessment is the full value of both personal and real property, but in practice the basis is about 70 per cent. The assessed valuation of real and personal property in 1902 was $171,881,364. The tax rate was 2.33 per cent. The actual income of the city, including proceeds from the sale of bonds, was $5,675,000. The expenditures for maintenance and operation, including cost of new buildings, etc., were $5,350,000: the main items being $777,516 for schools, $349,351 for the police department, $458,891 for the fire department, $286,654 for interest on debt, and $160,022 for the water-works. Milwaukee owns and operates its water-works, which were built in 1872. The system has cost $5,068,443 and now includes 360 miles of mains.

Population. Milwaukee ranks fifth among the Lake cities and fourteenth in the United States. The population by decades has been as follows: 1840, 1712; 1850, 20,061; 1860, 45,246; 1870, 71,440; 1880, 115,587; 1890, 204,468; 1900, 285,315. There is a large foreign-born population, amounting in 1900 to 102,647, of whom 63,952 were Germans. The negroes numbered only 862.

History. Probably as early as 1790, Jean Baptist Mirandeau, an emigrant from France, settled within the present limits of Milwaukee, where a Potawatami village of this name was then situated. Here he lived continuously until his death in 1819, for the greater part of the time being the only white man in the vicinity. In 1818 Solomon Juneau came hither and established a trading station, but a town was not laid out until 1835. In 1836 there was a big ‘boom,’ and settlers came in considerable numbers; but in the following year a reaction set in and retarded the growth of the village for several years. In 1847, with a population of 12,000, Milwaukee was chartered as a city, and Juneau was elected the first mayor.

Consult: Wheeler, Chronicles of Milwaukee (Milwaukee, 1861); Buck, Pioneer History of Milwaukee (3 vols., ib., 1876-84), the third volume of which is entitled Milwaukee Under the Charter.


NIE 1905 Milwaukee and Vicinity.jpg
 COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY