Milwaukee (Template:IPA-en); is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the City of Milwaukee has a population of 594,833. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee–Racine–Waukesha Metropolitan Area with a population of 1,751,316 as of 2010. Milwaukee is also the regional center of the seven county Greater Milwaukee Area, with an estimated population of 2,014,032 as of 2008.
The first Europeans to pass through the area were French missionaries and fur traders. In 1818, the French-Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau settled in the area, and in 1846 Juneau's town combined with two neighboring towns to incorporate as the City of Milwaukee. Large numbers of German and other immigrants helped increase the city's population during the 1840s and the following decades.
Once known almost exclusively as a brewing and manufacturing powerhouse, Milwaukee's image has changed with the decline of industry in the region. In the past decade, major new additions to the city include the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the Frontier Airlines Center, Miller Park, an internationally renowned addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Pier Wisconsin, as well as major renovations to the U.S. Cellular Arena. In addition, many new skyscrapers, condos, lofts and apartments have been constructed in neighborhoods on and near the lakefront and riverbanks.
- Main article: History of Milwaukee
The Milwaukee area was originally inhabited by the Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe (all Algic/Algonquian peoples) and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) (a Siouan people) Native American tribes. French missionaries and traders first passed through the area in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Alexis Laframboise, in 1785, coming from Michilimackinac (now in Michigan) settled a trading post; therefore, he is the first European descent resident of the Milwaukee region. The word "Milwaukee" may come from Potawatomi language minwaking, or Ojibwe language ominowakiing, "Gathering place [by the water]". Early explorers called the Milwaukee River and surrounding lands various names: Melleorki, Milwacky, Mahn-a-waukie, Milwarck, and Milwaucki. For many years, printed records gave the name as "Milwaukie". One story of Milwaukee's name says, Template:Quote The spelling "Milwaukie" lives on in Milwaukie, Oregon, named after the Wisconsin city in 1847, before the current spelling was universally accepted.
Milwaukee was first settled by a French Canadian called Alexis Laframboise in 1785; it was only a trading post. Therefore, Solomon Juneau was not the first to arrive in the area, in 1818. However, Juneau founded the town called Juneau's Side, or Juneautown, that began attracting more settlers. Byron Kilbourn was Juneau's equivalent on the west side of the Milwaukee River. In competition with Juneau, he established Kilbourntown west of the Milwaukee River, and made sure the streets running toward the river did not join with those on the east side. This accounts for the large number of angled bridges that still exist in Milwaukee today. Further, Kilbourn distributed maps of the area which only showed Kilbourntown, implying Juneautown did not exist or that the east side of the river was uninhabited and thus undesirable. The third prominent builder was George H. Walker. He claimed land to the south of the Milwaukee River, along with Juneautown, where he built a log house in 1834. This area grew and became known as Walker's Point.
By the 1840s, the three towns had grown quite a bit, along with their rivalries. There were some intense battles between the towns, mainly Juneautown and Kilbourntown, which culminated with the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. Following the Bridge War, it was decided the best course of action was to officially unite the towns. So, on January 31, 1846, they combined to incorporate as the City of Milwaukee and elected Solomon Juneau as Milwaukee's first mayor.
A great number of German immigrants increased the city's population during the 1840s and continued to migrate to the area during the following decades. The German heritage and influence in the Milwaukee area is widespread. Template:As of, the Greater Milwaukee phone book includes more than 40 pages of Schmitts or Schmidts, far more than the pages of Smiths.
During the middle and late 19th century, Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area became the final destination of many German immigrants fleeing the Revolution of 1848 in the various German states and in Austria. In Wisconsin they found the inexpensive land and the freedoms they sought. Over the next ten years over a million people left Germany and settled in the United States. Some were the intellectual leaders of this rebellion, but many were impoverished Germans. Others left because they feared constant political turmoil in Germany. One journalist commented in the Houston Post that "Germany seems to have lost all of her foreign possessions with the exception of Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati."
Today, Milwaukee's German heritage carries on in many of its restaurants, neighborhoods, schools and churches. German language is taught at the German Immersion School starting with 4-year old kindergarten students. The school was founded by Milwaukee Public Schools in 1977 and serve as a city-wide school to attract children from all parts of Milwaukee with innovative total German language immersion program.
Although the German presence in Milwaukee after the Civil War remained strong, other groups made their way to the city. Foremost among these were Polish immigrants. The Poles had many reasons for leaving their homeland, mainly poverty and political oppression by Germany (many immigrants came from the German part of Poland). Because Milwaukee offered the Polish immigrants an abundance of low-paying entry level jobs, it became one of the largest Polish settlements in the USA.
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