The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Madison (Wisconsin)

MADISON, a city of Wisconsin, capital of the state and of Dane co., situated in lat. 43° 4' N., lon. 89° 23' W., 75 m. W. of Milwaukee; pop. in 1850, 1,525; in 1860, 6,611; in 1870, 9,176, of whom 3,114 were foreigners. It is built in the midst of the “Four Lake region,” so called from a chain of beautiful lakes which extend over a distance of 16 m. and discharge their surplus waters into Yahara or Catfish river, a tributary of Rock river. Mendota or Fourth lake, the uppermost and largest, is 9 m. long, 6 m. wide, and from 50 to 70 ft. deep in some places, and fed chiefly by springs; it has beautiful white gravelly shores and pure cold water. Monona or Third lake is 5½ m. long and 2 m. wide, and Lakes Waubesa and Kegonsa are each about 3 m. in length by 2 m. in width. The city of Madison occupies an undulating isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, and in point of situation and scenery is the most beautiful city in the west. It is about 3 m. in length and 1 m. in breadth, and has wide, straight, and regular streets, with many beautiful buildings. The capitol, placed in the centre of a square park of 14 acres wooded with native timber, is built of limestone, and commands a fine view. It has recently been enlarged and improved at a cost of about $550,000. The length of the N. and S. wings is 228 ft., and of the E. and W. 226 ft. The height from the basement to the top of the dome is about 200 ft. The court house and jail are situated near the S. corner of the park. The university of Wisconsin, with four buildings, stands on a picturesque eminence a mile W. of the capitol, and 125 ft. above the lakes. (See Wisconsin.) The soldiers' orphans' home stands on the shore of Lake Monona, about a mile from the park. The building of the state hospital for the insane, 569 ft. long, on the N. shore of Lake Mendota, 4 m. N. of the capitol, is surrounded by grounds containing 393 acres, partly wood and farming land, and partly laid out and adorned. There is a United States court-house and post-office building, which cost about $400,000. Madison has railroad communication with Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, St. Paul, and other points, by means of the Chicago and Northwestern and the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul lines. It is surrounded by a fertile country, has an important trade, and contains manufactories of carriages and wagons, furniture, agricultural implements, woollen goods, saddlery and harness, flour, ale and beer, iron ware, &c. There are a state bank, a national bank, two savings banks, graded public schools, including a high school, two daily, one tri-weekly, and five weekly (two German) newspapers, and 14 churches. The principal libraries are the following: state historical society, 57,254 volumes; state, 7,500; university and societies, 6,830; Madison institute, 3,500; state agricultural society, 1,000.—Madison was selected as the territorial capital in 1836, while yet a wilderness, and in the following year the building of the capitol was commenced.

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State Capitol of Wisconsin.