1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE, a city and the county-seat of Milwaukee county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., the largest city of the state, at the mouth of the Milwaukee river on the W. shore of Lake Michigan, about 85 m. N. of Chicago. Pop. (1900), 285,315; (1910), 373,857. The Milwaukee river entering the city from the north is joined about ½ m. from its mouth by the Menominee flowing from the west and a short distance from the lake by the Kinnikinnic flowing from the south. These rivers are navigable for lake traffic into the heart of the city. Milwaukee Bay, into which their combined waters empty, is an inlet of Lake Michigan, about 6 m. across. By the construction of extensive piers and breakwaters a fine harbour of refuge has been created; and its inner harbour is deep enough for the largest lake-steamers. From the shore of the lake the land rises, rather abruptly in most places, to a height of from 75 to 100 ft. From a broad plateau overlooking the lake the land slopes gradually westward to the river, again rising on the north, west and south to a height of 125 ft. or more. The rivers separate the city into three distinctly marked divisions of varying character known as the east, west and south sides. The manufactories are largely on the “flats” along the rivers and on the south side. The extensive use as building material of cream-coloured brick made in the vicinity gives the city its nickname, “the Cream City.”
The city has many beautiful parks and squares, the most picturesque of which is Juneau Park, along the lake bluff. It contains statues of Leif Ericsson and Solomon Juneau. Other parks are Lake Park, also on the lake shore, at North Point, where stands the waterworks pumping station with its tall tower; Riverside and Kilbourn Parks, east and west respectively of the upper Milwaukee river, in the northern part of the city, Washington Park on the west side, containing a menagerie and a herd of deer; Sherman Park on the west side, and Kosciusko, Humboldt and Mitchell Parks on the south side. McKinley Park on the lake shore south of the city, and Whitefish Bay 6 m. north of the city, are popular bathing resorts. In addition to the statues in Juneau Park there is a statue of Kosciusko in the park of that name; one of Washington and a soldiers' monument on Grand Avenue; a statue of Henry Bergh in front of the city hall; one of Robert Burns in the First Ward Park, and, in Washington Park, a replica of Ernst Rietschel’s Schiller-Goethe monument in Jena, given to the city in 1908 by the Germans of Milwaukee. Of the several cemeteries, that of Forest Home, south-west of the city, is the largest and most beautiful. The city is well sewered, and has an excellent water-supply system owned by the municipality and representing an investment of more than $5,000,000. The water is obtained from Lake Michigan through an intake far out in the lake. Through a tunnel ½ m. long, constructed in 1888, water is pumped by means of one of the largest single pumps in the world from the lake into the upper Milwaukee river, which is thus completely flushed by fresh water every twenty-four hours.
Milwaukee is one of the most healthful of the larger cities of the United States. Its average annual death-rate for 1900–1904 was 13.6. The proximity of Lake Michigan cools the atmosphere in summer and tempers the cold in winter. As a result, the extremes of heat and cold are not as great as those in most inland cities. The mean monthly temperatures vary between 20° in January and 70° in July, with extremes of 100° and −25°. The mean annual precipitation is 31.4 in.
Suburbs.—Milwaukee proper occupies 22½ sq. m., a small area as compared with other cities near it in population Detroit (36 sq. m.) and Washington, D.C. (69¼ sq. m.). As a result, the population has overflowed into several populous suburbs industrially a part of a “greater” Milwaukee. Of these by far the most important are the township of Wauwatosa (pop., 1905, 11,132; 1910, 11,536), and the city of the same name, separated from the township in 1897 and having in 1910 a population of 3346; the city and township are on the Menominee river, immediately adjoining the city on the west. The first settlement was made here in 1835. Wauwatosa has important manufactures, including machinery, brick, lime, beer, chemicals and wooden-ware, and extensive market gardens and nurseries and valuable stone quarries. It has a Carnegie library, and is the seat of an Evangelical Lutheran theological seminary (1865), of Lutheran homes for the aged and orphan, of the Milwaukee county hospital for the insane, of the Milwaukee sanatorium for nervous diseases, and of the north-western branch of the national soldiers' home, which has grounds covering 385 acres and with main building and barracks affording quarters for over 2000 disabled veterans, and has a hospital, a theatre, and a library of 15,000 volumes. Within the limits of Wauwatosa also are the State Fair grounds. Other suburbs are West Allis pop., 1905, 2306; U. S. census 1910, 6645), an incorporated rapidly growing manufacturing city on the west; Cudahy (pop., 1910, 3691), a manufacturing village south of Milwaukee, largely devoted to meat packing; South Milwaukee (pop. 1910, 6092), an incorporated city with several large manufactories, and North Milwaukee (pop., 1910, 1860), a village immediately adjoining the city on the north.
Public Buildings, Institutions, &c.—The principal public building in the city is the Federal building (1895–1898), the post office, custom-house and local headquarters for the United States courts. The public library and museum, on the north side of Grand Avenue, in addition to an excellent collection of natural history, palaeontology &c., contained in 1909 a library of about 190,000 volumes The city hall on the east side is surmounted by a tall clock-tower containing one of the largest bells in the world. The Layton Art Gallery contains one of the best collections of paintings west of the Alleghanies. The chamber of commerce, and the Pabst, Mitchell, North-Western Life Insurance, Germania Sentinel and Wells buildings, are among the principal business structures. In Milwaukee are St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and All Saints Protestant Episcopal Cathedral—the city is the see of a Roman Catholic archbishopric (established in 1892) and of a Protestant Episcopal bishopric. Among other church structures are Plymouth Congregational, Westminster Presbyterian, Church of Gesu (Roman Cathode) and Trinity Lutheran. The hotels include the Pfister on the east side and the Plankinton, the Republican and the Schlitz on the west side. Among the theatres are the Davidson, Majestic, Schubert Bijou, Alhambra and the Pabst German. During the summer there are open-air theatres in several private parks or “gardens.” The social clubs include the Milwaukee, Deutscher-Concordia, University and Marquette clubs. The predominance of Germanic influence in the city is evidenced by at least 75 musical clubs and numerous Turnverein societies. There are 12 hospitals (3 of them city institutions), 6 orphan asylums, 4 homes for the aged, a foundlings' home and a state industrial school for girls.
The educational institutions are numerous. Marquette University was established in 1906 by a union of Marquette College (1881) a Roman Catholic school of high rank, and existing schools of medicine pharmacy, dentistry and law; in 1908 it added a department of engineering, and in that year it had 81 instructors and 630 students. Milwaukee-Downer College (for girls), in the north-east part of the city was established in 1895 by a consolidation of Milwaukee College tor girls, and Downer College, formerly at Fox Lake. Other institutions are Concordia College (1881, Lutheran), a state normal school (1880), the Wisconsin College of physicians and surgeons (1893), the national German-American teachers' seminary (normal), Milwaukee academy (1864), Milwaukee University school, Milwaukee school of engineering (1904), Milwaukee Turnverein school of physical culture, one of the largest schools of the sort in the United States, St John’s Catholic institute, Our Lady of Mercy academy (Roman Catholic), Wisconsin academy of music, the Wisconsin school of art (art students' league), a Catholic normal school, St Rose’s manual training school, the industrial chemical institute (the only technical school for brewers in the United States) and several business and commercial schools. At St Francis, adjoining the city on the south, is the seminary of St Francis of Salcs (Roman Catholic), and St Joseph’s institute for deaf mutes (Roman Catholic). The Milwaukee public school system comprises four high schools, a high school of trades, and in addition to the ordinary grades, a kindergarten department and day schools for the blind and deaf.
Transportation.—Milwaukee is favourably situated commercially, with excellent facilities for shipping both by lake and rail afforded by four trunk lines and a dozen lines of lake steamboats. It is served by the Chicago & North-Western, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, the Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie, the Grand Trunk, and the Père Marquette railways. The last-named connects with the main line at Ludington, Michigan, by means of a railway ferry across Lake. Michigan; the Grand Trunk has a railway ferry from Milwaukee to Grand Haven. The city’s extensive street railway system connects with interurban electric lines leading to Waukesha, Oconomowoc and Watertown on the west, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac on the north, and Chicago and intermediate points along the lake shore on the south.
Trade and Commerce.—Commercially Milwaukee is one of the most important of the inland cities of the United States, although its trade it largely domestic. It is a distributing point for a considerable part of Wisconsin, and several states farther west, its wholesale business aggregating about $350,000,000 annually. The country produce sold in Milwaukee averages about $75,000,000 a year in value. The chief commodities of trade are coal, grain, lumber, flour and various products of the city’s own manufactories. Milwaukee is an important grain shipping port—in 1908 it shipped 28,618,519 bushels of grain and 3,752,033 barrels of flour, and its 25 elevators have a capacity of over 12,500,000 bushels. It is one of the largest distributing centres in the country for coal, which is received by lake, and stored in enormous coal docks for trans-shipment by rail throughout the west and north-west. The city is a port of entry, and in 1908 its imports were valued at $3,080,437, and its exports at only $75,525.
Manufactures.—In 1905 the total value of Milwaukee’s factory products was $138,881,545, 25.3% more than in 1900. In the nanufacture of malt liquors and malt Milwaukee stands first among the cities of the United States and of the world. The total value of these products for 1905 was $29,909,248, of which $22,134,580 was the value of malt liquors and $3,774,668 was the value of malt. In 1905 Milwaukee manufactured 77.1% of the malt liquors manuactured in the state and 7.4% of the entire product of the United States. Other products exceeding $1,000,000 in value were: eather ($14,074,397), Milwaukee being second in the manufacture of leather among the cities of the United States; foundry and machine shop products ($10,232,723); iron and steel ($7,010,793); flour and grist-mill products ($6,320,428); slaughtering and meat-packing products ($5,958,515); men’s clothing ($4,759,548); boots and shoes ($2,929,405); electrical machinery, apparatus and supplies ($2,257,229); chewing and smoking tobacco ($1,966,930) and cigars and cigarettes ($1,540,019); furniture ($1,767,290); trunks and valises ($1,623,310); hosiery and knit goods ($1,535,176); confectionery ($1,379,668); stoves and furnaces ($1,288,931); leather gloves and mittens ($1,207,633); structural iron work ($1,037,217); wooden packing boxes ($1,024,750); and paints ($1,015,774). Among Milwaukee’s largest industrial establishments are: the Pabst and the Schlitz breweries, on the west side of the city, the machine shops (35 acres) of the Allis-Chalmers Company at West Allis, employing about 5000 men and making engines of all kinds; and the plant of the Illinois Steel Company, at Bay View on the south side, which covers 154 acres. The flour mills of Milwaukee have a capacity of about 12,000 barrels a day. Two of the city’s tanneries are among the largest in America. In the Menominee river valley the peculiar cream-coloured Milwaukee bricks are made. North of the city on the Milwaukee river are extensive cement works.
Newspapers.—The first newspaper in Milwaukee, the Advertiser, began publication in 1836. The first German newspaper was established in 1844. In 1909 there were eleven daily newspapers, as follows: Evening Wisconsin (1847; Republican), Free Press (1901; Independent Republican), Journal (1882; Independent Democrat), News (1886; Independent), and Sentinel (1837; Republican), the oldest paper in continuous publication, Daily Commercial Letter (Commercial), Reporter (legal and commercial), Dziennik Milwaucki (Polish), Kuryer Polski (1888; Republican; Polish); Germania Abendpost (1872; Independent; German); and Der Herold (1854; Independent; German). Of more than a hundred other publications thirty-two, 10 monthly or quarterly and 22 weekly, were published in German. There are 5 Polish weekly publications, 3 Bohemian, 1 Italian and one periodical for the blind.
Population.—The population of Milwaukee in 1840 was only 1712. During the following decade there was a steady flow of immigrants from the eastern states and from Europe, with the result that in 1850, two years after the admission of Wisconsin to the Union, the population was 20,061. The population at the succeeding decennial censuses was as follows: (1860), 45,246; (1870), 71,440; (1880), 115,587; (1890), 204,468; (1900), 285,315. In 1905, according to the state census, the population was 312,948. The fact that out of a population of 285,315 in 1900, 88,991 were foreign-born, and 235,889 were of foreign parentage, that 53,854 were born in Germany, that 124,211 had both parents born in Germany, and that 26,834 additional had one or the other parent born in Germany, stamps the character of Milwaukee’s population. The negro population in 1900 was only 862. The proportion of illiterates is small. Of the male population, aged 10 years or more, only 3206 (2968 foreign-born whites; 194 native-born whites) were illiterate in 1900.
Government.—Milwaukee is governed under a city charter of 1874, providing the form of city government most common in America, a mayor (elected biennially) and a single board of aldermen. There are the usual administrative boards whose members are appointed by the mayor, some of them with the approval of the board of aldermen, though the board of school directors is elected by direct popular vote. Two boards of civil service commissioners, one for fire and police departments and one for all other departments, have supervision over the city’s civil service.
The assessed valuation of taxable property, in the city, in August 1906 was $201,585,127, of which $157,611,560 represented realty and $43,973,567 personality. The valuation is about 60% of the actual value. The tax rate for all purposes in that year was $2.26 per $100. According to a special report of the census the cost of the city government of Milwaukee in 1906 was smaller per capita than that of any other city in the country with a population of over 300,000. At the close of the year 1906 the total debt was $8,835,049, and the funded debt was $8,106,500.
History. The first Europeans known to have visited the site of Milwaukee were Father Jacques Marquette, the Jesuit missionary, and his companion, Louis Joliet, who on their return in the autumn of 1673 to the mission of St Francis Xavier at De Pere from their trip down the Mississippi, skirted the west shore of Lake Michigan in their canoes from Chicago northward. Milwaukee Bay is distinctly marked in the map attributed to Marquette, the original of which is now in the Jesuit College at Montreal, Canada; it was discovered in a convent in Montreal by Felix Martin (1804–1886), of the Society of Jesus, and was copied by Parkman. In 1679 La Salle and his party probably stopped here on their way south, and in the Jesuit Relations of that year the name Milwaukee first appears, as “Millioke.” This, and the various other spellings of the name, attempted to reproduce the Indian name of the village here, which Kelton thinks was pronounced Minewagi and meant “there is a good point” or “there is a point where huckleberries grow,” in allusion to the fertile soil. Doubtless the coureurs du bois who at this time began to frequent the Wisconsin forests, touched at the bay many times within the succeeding years as the place was known to be a favourite rendezvous of the Fox (or Outagamie) Indians. In 1690–1700 Father St Cosme, a Recollet friar, was here, finding bands of Mascoutens, Fox, Winnebago and Potawatomi. He called the river “Melwarik,” “Melwarck” and “Meliwarik.”
For more than half a century no definite reference to the place can be found. In 1760 its advantageous situation attracted the adventurous trader, Alexander Henry, the first Englishman known to have visited the spot. Three years later (1763) there was a French fur-trading post here, but it is uncertain just when it was established or how long it was maintained. In 1795 Jacques Vieau, a Frenchman in the employ of the North-Western Fur Company, established a permanent post here, which seems to have continued, under his direction, with practically no interruption until 1820, when it was superseded by that of Astor’s American Fur Company. Vieau built a dwelling and a warehouse and conducted extensive trading operations. In 1818 there joined the settlement a young Frenchman named Laurent Solomon Juneau (1793–1856), who married one of Vieau’s daughters and eventually bought out his business. Juneau and several others who arrived at about the same time built homes on the east side of the river near the foot of the present Wisconsin Street. Vieau’s house and store was at this time on the south side. Milwaukee was on the direct route of travel between Fort Dearborn (Chicago) and the flourishing settlement at Green Bay, and at once after the treaties between the United States and the Menominee in 1831 and 1833 for the extinguishing of the Indian titles, settlers began to come to the neighbourhood. A map of 1830 shows a small settlement on “Milwalky Bay”; and the treaty of the 8th of February 1831 speaks of the “Milwauky or Manawauky River.” Morgan L. Martin (1805–1887) of Green Bay, a lawyer and judge, and a delegate to Congress in 1845–1847 from Wisconsin territory, explored the harbour facilities in 1833 and made a map of the place which he called “Milwaukie.” He entered into an agreement later in the same year with Juneau and Michael Dousman for its development. A saw-mill was built in 1834, and settlers began to arrive. The east side was platted in the summer of 1835, and very soon afterward the plat of a settlement on the west side was also recorded, Byron Kilbourn being the chief projector and proprietor of the latter. The rival settlements, officially known as Milwaukee East Side and Milwaukee West Side, bore the popular designations of “Juneautown” and “Kilbourn town.” A third settlement, begun on the south side by George H. Walker and known as “Walker’s Point,” was subsequently platted independently. The rivalry between the east and west side towns was intense, the plats were so surveyed that the streets did not meet at the river, and there were bitter quarrels over the building of bridges. Milwaukee county was set off from Brown county in 1834, and in 1836 the establishment of townships was authorized. Under this act the east and west sides were independently incorporated in February 1837. A realization that the continuation of independent and rival corporations retarded growth eventually led to a compromise by which the two were united as two wards of the same village in 1839, the autonomy of each being still recognized by an odd arrangement whereby each maintained practically independent management of its finances and affairs. Walker’s Point, the south side, was annexed as a third ward in 1845, and in 1846 the three wards were incorporated as the city of Milwaukee, of which Solomon Juneau was elected first mayor. The influence of this early rivalry may be seen in several provisions of the existing city charter.
About 1840 a strong tide of immigration from Germany set in, continuing steadily for a half-century. It was greatly accelerated by the German revolutionary movements of the late 'forties, which added to the city’s population a considerable element of educated Germans of the upper class. From this time the Teutonic character of the population was marked. The first newspaper, the Advertiser, began publication in 1836; the first bank was established in 1837. In 1839 George Smith and Alexander Mitchell established the Fire and Marine Insurance Company Bank. As “Mitchell’s Bank” this institution was known for forty years as one of the strongest banking houses west of the Alleghanies, its notes passing at par during panics in which even the government issues were depreciated. Through it the Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul and other western railways were financed. Beer was first brewed in Milwaukee in 1840. Milwaukee was connected with Chicago by telegraph in 1849, and by railway in 1856. Previous to this, however, in 1851, the first train ran over the Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul railway to Waukesha, and in 1857 through trains were run over the same road to the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien.
See J. S. Buck, Pioneer History of Milwaukee (4 vols., Milwaukee, 1876–1886); A. C. Wheeler, Chronicles of Milwaukee (Milwaukee, 1861); E. S. Mack, “The Founding of Milwaukee” in Proceedings of the State Historical Society for 1906 (Madison, 1907); and L. M. Larson, Administrative History of Milwaukee (Madison, Wisconsin, 1908).