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Wisconsin (Wi): State Guide, Fun Facts, and Resources

When did Wisconsin become a state?
May 29, 1848

Who was the first explorer in Wisconsin?
Jean Nicolet; French explorer, searching for the Northwest Passage

First Native American settlers:
Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Dakota Sioux, Menominee, Ho-chunk

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Wood Violet

State Bird:

State Motto:

Capital City

The city of Madison was founded by James Doty in 1836, when he bought land in the area, intending to create a city there. Instead, he won a tough bid to be the capital city of the Wisconsin Territory, and development began the next year. When Wisconsin became part of the United States in 1848, the city of Madison remained the capital in place.
Today, the primary economic drivers in Madison are governmental jobs and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Other main drivers include high technology companies, health care research, and service-based industries.


What is Wisconsin famous for?

1. Dairy/Cheese
The dairy industry was incited in the 1880s in Wisconsin when the University of Wisconsin began to promote the dairy and farming industry to farmers that wished to take short courses in the benefits and techniques used in certain types of farming. German and Scandinavian immigrants were the founders of the dairy farming industry in Wisconsin. These cultures knew about European cheeses and brought their knowledge to the US, popularizing Swiss cheese for the first time in the US. As a result, Wisconsin had made a name for itself in cheese production by the early 20th century.

Today, the tradition of dairy and cheesemaking continues, earning residents the nickname of “cheeseheads.”

2. Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum was founded in 1882 and was originally called the Milwaukee Museum of Fine Arts. The museum turned into the Milwaukee Art Association and then the Milwaukee Art Institute. The Milwaukee Art Center was formed in 1957 and moved to the current site. The building that houses the current museum was completed in 2001. Famed architect Santiago Calatrava designed it. The distinct building, constructed in Calatrava’s signature whitewash style, consists of an enormous common lobby area flanked by a roof of giant spires, creating a wingspan that contract and opens throughout the day.

3. Beer Brewing
Wisconsin is historically a beer brewing state. In the 1830s, the industry had just begun, and it quickly spread to most communities in Wisconsin. Breweries were appreciated not only for their product but also for the employment they provided to local workers and their support of local farmers, who supplied the barley and grains needed to create the beer. Various struggles needed to be overcome, such as the pressure for prohibition from state and federal parties.
Today, breweries continue the long tradition of brewing throughout the state. Wisconsin is now home to several large international beer manufacturers and distributors. However, it still hosts several smaller craft breweries that carry on making beer in small batches using time-honored techniques.

What is Wisconsin’s economy?

1. Agriculture
Agriculture plays a central role in Wisconsin’s economy. The primary livestock raised in the state is beef cattle, calves, hogs, and young chickens. However, most of the livestock raised in the state is reserved for dairy production and not for beef sales. One-half of Wisconsin’s agricultural earnings are accounted for by dairy products, including yogurt, butter, milk, and cheese.

The main crops grown in Wisconsin are corn used for livestock feed, nursery products, soybeans, potatoes, and cranberries. The state is one of the country’s largest producers of cranberries.

2. Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry in Wisconsin is largely centered on the production of engines, cranes, construction equipment, and other machinery. Other manufacturers make cars, car parts, and other transportation materials. Food products are the third-largest industry. The main foods produced are butter, cheese, ice cream, milk, canned products, and beer.

3. Services
The services industry in Wisconsin owes much of its income to private health care companies, law firms, hotels, and repair facilities. Secondary services include wholesale and retail trade of food and other goods. Financial firms, real estate agencies, insurance agencies, banks, and government services are in the runner-up category for monetary contributions to the services industry in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Historical Landmarks

1. Milton House
The Milton House was a historic inn located in Milton, Wisconsin. Constructed in 1838 and designed by architect Joseph Goodrich, the building was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The inn itself was connected to a cabin that was located on adjacent grounds via an underground tunnel. In addition to providing transport between the two locations, slaves were hidden there during raids by authorities. Today, the house is owned by the Milton Historical Society and is open for tours.

2. First Unitarian Society of Madison
Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the First Unitarian Society of Madison church was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright from 1948 until 1951. The building has a unique steep roof that extends nearly to the ground and windows that do not provide views into the private sanctuary within, the latter being characteristic of most of Wright’s designs. The building was named as a National Historic Landmark in 2004, just over 30 years after it was named to the National Register of Historic Places (1973).

3. Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House
The home that belonged to Herbert Jacobs and his wife Katherine was more commonly called Jacobs I (because the family had more than one house designed by Wright). It was designed in 1937 in Madison, Wisconsin, and was home to the family for about a decade until they moved into their second Wright-designed home in 1948. The house is commonly thought to be the first of dozens of Usonian houses that Frank Lloyd Wright was responsible for designing. The style of these homes was typically similar in that they were all small single-story homes that used local materials and passive solar heating, one of the first times this technique was used.

The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in July of 1974.