Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

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Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Wauwatosa at Menomonee River.jpg
Wauwatosa along the banks
of the Menomonee River
Milwaukee County Wisconsin Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Wauwatosa Highlighted.svg
Location of Wauwatosa in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 43°4′N88°2′W / 43.067°N 88.033°W / 43.067; -88.033 Coordinates: 43°4′N88°2′W / 43.067°N 88.033°W / 43.067; -88.033
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Wisconsin.svg  Wisconsin
County Milwaukee
  Mayor Kathy Ehley
   Congressional Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R)
   City 13.25 sq mi (34.32 km2)
  Land13.25 sq mi (34.32 km2)
  Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
673 ft (205 m)
 (2010) [3]
   City 46,396
(2018) [4]
  Density3,501.6/sq mi (1,352.0/km2)
1,753,355 (Milwaukee)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 414
FIPS code 55-84675 [5]
GNIS feature ID1576335 [6]
Website www.wauwatosa.net

Wauwatosa ( /ˌwɔːwəˈtsə/ ; originally Wau-wau-too-sa or Hart's Mill) is a city in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 46,396 at the 2010 census. Wauwatosa is located immediately west of Milwaukee, and is a part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. It is named after the Potawatomi Chief Wauwataesie and the Potawatomi word for firefly. [7]

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin U.S. county in Wisconsin

Milwaukee County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 947,735 and was estimated to be 948,201 in 2018. It is the most populous county in Wisconsin and the 45th most populous in the United States. Its county seat is Milwaukee, which is also the most populous city in the state. The county was created in 1834 as part of Michigan Territory and organized the following year.

Wisconsin U.S. state in the United States

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.

2010 United States Census 23rd national census of the United States, taken in 2010

The 2010 United States Census is the twenty-third and most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010. The census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired. The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million people as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000.



The lush Menomonee Valley of the Wauwatosa area provided a key overland gateway between the rich glacial farmland of southeastern Wisconsin and the Port of Milwaukee. In 1835, Charles Hart became the first Euro-American to settle here, followed that year by 17 other families. The following year a United States Road was built from Milwaukee through Wauwatosa, eventually reaching Madison. Charles Hart built a mill in 1845 on the Menomonee River which gave the settlement its original name of "Hart's Mill." The mill was torn down in 1914. [8]

Menomonee Valley human settlement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America

The Menomonee Valley or Menomonee River Valley is a U-shaped land formation along the southern bend of the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Because of its easy access to Lake Michigan and other waterways, the neighborhood has historically been home to the city's stockyards, rendering plants, shipping, and other heavy industry. It was also a primary source of pollution for the river.

Port of Milwaukee

The Port of Milwaukee is a port in the city of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. It primarily serves Southeastern Wisconsin, Southeastern Minnesota, and Northern Illinois. The port owns 13.5 miles (21.7 km) of rail that connect to two Class I railroads outside the port. The port has over 330,000 square feet (31,000 m2) of covered warehouse space, with 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) of that being heated warehouse space. The port has 50 acres dedicated to dry bulk storage, which includes four domes capable of handling 50,000 tons of storage. Along with this, the port can store 300,000 barrels of bulk liquids. The port keeps a minimum draft of 26 feet (7.9 m), but this can vary due to weather.

Madison, Wisconsin Capital of Wisconsin

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2018, Madison's estimated population of 258,054 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin by population, after Milwaukee, and the 81st-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the Madison Metropolitan Area which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties for a population of 654,230.

The Town of Wau-wau-too-sa was created by act of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature on April 30, 1840. As of the 1840 census, the population of the Town of Wau-wau-too-sa or Wauwatosa was 342. [9] The town government was organized in 1842. The town's borders originally extended from the present-day Greenfield Avenue in the south to Hampton Avenue in the north, and from 27th Street in the east to the Waukesha County line in the west, encompassing sections of present-day Milwaukee, West Milwaukee and West Allis, plus the southern part of former North Milwaukee, which was wholly annexed into the city of Milwaukee in 1927. Most of the town was farmland through the remainder of the 19th century.

A civil township is a widely used unit of local government in the United States that is subordinate to a county. The term town is used in New England, New York, and Wisconsin to refer to the equivalent of the civil township in these states. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each state. Civil townships are distinct from survey townships, but in states that have both, the boundaries often coincide and may completely geographically subdivide a county. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies civil townships as minor civil divisions. Currently, there are 20 states with civil townships.

United States Census Decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution

The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States... according to their respective Numbers.... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years". Section 2 of the 14th Amendment amended Article I, Section 2 to include that the "respective Numbers" of the "several States" will be determined by "counting the whole number of persons in each State... excluding Indians not taxed...” The United States Census Bureau is responsible for the United States Census. The Bureau of the Census is part of the United States Department of Commerce.

Waukesha County, Wisconsin County in Wisconsin, United States

Waukesha County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 389,891, making it the third-most populous county in Wisconsin. Its county seat is Waukesha.

Wauwatosa in 1892 WI-Wauwatosa-1892.jpg
Wauwatosa in 1892

In 1849 the Watertown Plank Road was constructed through Wauwatosa, mainly following the old Madison territorial road. In 1851 Wisconsin's first railroad (later The Milwaukee Road) established Wauwatosa as its western terminus. The Village of Wauwatosa was incorporated from the central part of the Town of Wauwatosa in 1892, and was rechartered as the City of Wauwatosa on May 27, 1897. [10]

Robertson Ace Hardware Building; one of the original buildings in Wauwatosa Wauwatosavillage1.jpg
Robertson Ace Hardware Building; one of the original buildings in Wauwatosa

On November 25, 1952, the City of Wauwatosa more than doubled its size by annexing 8.5 square miles (22 square kilometers) of land west of the Menomonee River, the entire remaining portion of the Town of Wauwatosa, [11] which became the home to several large cold storage and regional food distribution terminals. Industrial plants owned by firms including Harley-Davidson and Briggs & Stratton were also constructed.

Annexation Acquisition of a states territory by another state

Annexation is the administrative action and concept in international law relating to the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state and is generally held to be an illegal act. It is distinct from conquest, which refers to the acquisition of control over a territory involving a change of sovereignty, and differs from cession, in which territory is given or sold through treaty, since annexation is a unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state. It usually follows military occupation of a territory.

The Menomonee River is one of three primary rivers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Harley-Davidson A publicly traded American company that has become primarily known internationally by the eponymous motorcycle brand

Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression, along with Indian. The company has survived numerous ownership arrangements, subsidiary arrangements, periods of poor economic health and product quality, and intense global competition to become one of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic brand widely known for its loyal following. There are owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company-sponsored, brand-focused museum.

In the past 40 years, western Wauwatosa has become an edge city with an important commercial and retail district built up along Milwaukee's beltline Highway 100 and anchored by the Mayfair Mall.

Edge city

"Edge city" is a term that originated in the United States for a concentration of business, shopping, and entertainment outside a traditional downtown or central business district, in what had previously been a suburban residential or rural area. The term was popularized by the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for The Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown. Other terms for these areas include suburban activity centers, megacenters, and suburban business districts. These districts have now developed in many countries.

Mayfair Mall is a shopping mall located on Mayfair Road between North Avenue and Center Street in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It serves the Greater Milwaukee area. Mayfair Shopping Center was constructed from 1956 and completed in 1959 by the Hunzinger Construction Company. It has been expanded several times since it was first built.

Wauwatosa received some national attention in 1992 when the Wauwatosa Common Council, threatened with a lawsuit, decided to remove a Christian cross from the City's seal adopted in 1957. The cross was replaced with the text, "In God We Trust." The seal itself was designed by 9-year old Suzanne Vallier as an entry in a contest among Wauwatosa schoolchildren. The quadrants of the logo's shield represent, from top left going clockwise; an arrowhead representing the Indians who were the original inhabitants of the city, the mill representing Hart's Mill which was the original name of the city, the cross representing the "city of churches", and the symbol used on street signs representing the "city of homes." [12]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.25 square miles (34.32 km2), all land. [2]

Eastern Wauwatosa is also known for its homes and residential streets, at one time just a short streetcar ride away from downtown Milwaukee. Prior to the arrival of Dutch elm disease, many of Wauwatosa's older residential streets had large gothic colonnades of American Elm trees. In Wauwatosa, the Menomonee Valley made it easier to quarry portions of the Niagara Escarpment, which provided the necessary materials for sturdy, cream-colored bricks and stout, limestone foundations used in many homes and public buildings throughout the region.


Historical population
1900 2,842
1910 3,34617.7%
1920 5,81873.9%
1930 21,194264.3%
1940 27,76931.0%
1950 33,32420.0%
1960 56,92370.8%
1970 58,6763.1%
1980 51,310−12.6%
1990 49,484−3.6%
2000 47,271−4.5%
2010 46,396−1.9%
Est. 201848,376 [4] 4.3%
Note: Town of Wauwatosa annexed
by City of Wauwatosa in 1952–54.

As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $54,519, and the median income for a family was $68,030. Males had a median income of $46,721 versus $35,289 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,834. About 2.3% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 46,396 people, 20,435 households, and 11,969 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,501.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,352.0/km2). There were 21,520 housing units at an average density of 1,624.2 per square mile (627.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.6% White, 4.5% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.

There were 20,435 households of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.4% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 39.8 years. 21.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.9% were from 25 to 44; 26.7% were from 45 to 64; and 16.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.6% male and 53.4% female.


Wauwatosa has a mayor–council government. The mayor is elected to a four-year term.

The Common Council is composed of 16 aldermen, two from each of eight districts. They serve four-year terms, with one member from each district up for election every other year. The aldermen set policy and have extensive financial control, but are not engaged in daily operational management.


Wauwatosa voters have supported both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Wisconsin gubernatorial election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2018 [13]
Democratic Tony Evers 15,70557.26%
Republican Scott Walker 11,27641.11%
United States Senate election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2018 [13]
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 17,12662.63%
Republican Leah Vukmir 10,16237.16%
United States presidential election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2016 [14]
Democratic Hillary Clinton 16,31656.87%
Republican Donald Trump 10,03434.98%
Libertarian Gary Johnson 1,3324.64%
United States Senate election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2016 [14]
Democratic Russ Feingold 15,03852.31%
Republican Ron Johnson 13,14745.73%
Wisconsin gubernatorial election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2014 [15]
Republican Scott Walker 12,87551.83%
Democratic Mary Burke 11,71347.16%
United States presidential election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2012 [16]
Democratic Barack Obama 15,22050.61%
Republican Mitt Romney 14,51148.25%
United States Senate election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2012 [16]
Republican Tommy Thompson 14,58849.24%
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 14,51649.00%
Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, June 2012 [17]
Republican Scott Walker 14,05953.63%
Democratic Tom Barrett 12,03345.90%
Wisconsin gubernatorial election in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 2010 [18]
Republican Scott Walker 12,57951.84%
Democratic Tom Barrett 11,54147.56%


Wauwatosa is served by the Wauwatosa School District: [19]

Catholic elementary schools in the city include Wauwatosa Catholic, St. Bernard, St. Joseph, St. Jude and Christ King. Lutheran Schools include Our Redeemer and St. John's.

Points of interest

Church of the Annunciation in Wauwatosa, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Annunciation Church Apr09.jpg
Church of the Annunciation in Wauwatosa, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Wauwatosa contains Milwaukee County's Regional Medical Center, which includes the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and Froedtert Hospital, one of two level-one trauma centers in the state. Other points of interest are the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the Memorial Center, built in 1957, which contains the public library, an auditorium, and the city hall. The Washington Highlands Historic District, a residential neighborhood designed in 1916 by renowned city planner Werner Hegemann, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, as was the Kneeland-Walker House. The Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy Historic District, located on a former high school campus, was added in 1998. Other buildings on the list include Wauwatosa's oldest house, the Lowell Damon House; the Thomas B. Hart House; and the Wauwatosa Woman's Club Clubhouse.

In July 2019, the Tourism Commission of Wauwatosa sponsored the installation of several new murals by professional artists. ' [20] The murals are curated by Milwaukee-based public arts agency Wallpapered City, and the artworks appear on buildings from 64th Street to 70th Street along North Avenue.' [21]

Wauwatosa is the home town of the narrator of an unrecorded song by Bob Dylan, "On, Wisconsin" (not to be confused with the University of Wisconsin fight song of the same name). [22] The lyrics were written by Dylan in 1961 and finished in 2018 by local musician Trapper Schoepp. Schoepp wrote music to accompany Dylan's lyrics and recorded the song at Wauwatosa's Wire & Vice studio for his album Primetime Illusion. [23] [24]

Notable people

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  1. "QuickFacts – Wauwatosa city, Wisconsin". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  2. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  3. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  4. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  5. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. "THE HISTORY OF WAUWATOSA". visitmilwaukee.org. VISIT Milwaukee. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  8. Milwaukee Journal, July 12, 1914
  9. Watrous, Jerome Anthony, Memoirs of Milwaukee County: from the earliest historical times down to the present, including a genealogical and biographical record of representative families in Milwaukee County, Chicago: Western Historical Association, 1909; Volume 1, pp. 69-70
  10. Village of Wauwatosa. "City of Wauwatosa Incorporated May 27, 1897 Under General Law, Recorded Misc. Rec. Vol. 5, PG. 397; Boundary Description" (PDF). Office of the Secretary of State of Wisconsin. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2007-04-08.
  11. "City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: History: 1952" City of Wauwatosa website
  12. Milwaukee Journal, April 12, 1957
  13. 1 2 "Election Summary EL-45". City of Wauwatosa. November 8, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  14. 1 2 "Wauwatosa Election Results". November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  15. "Wauwatosa Election Results". November 4, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  16. 1 2 "Wauwatosa Election Results". November 6, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  17. "Wauwatosa Election Results". June 5, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  18. "Wauwatosa Election Results". November 2, 2010. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  19. Wauwatosa School District
  20. Tanzilo, Bobby. "Wallpapered City is bringing series of murals to the heart of East Tosa". OnMilwaukee . Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  21. Inouye, Dominic. "The Power of Street Art: Conversations with the New Tosa Muralists". Milwaukee Independent . Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  22. Robbins, Dean (October 6, 2017). "Bob Dylan's Ode To Wisconsin". Wisconsin Life. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  23. Nelson, James B. (November 14, 2018). "Local musician Trapper Schoepp to release 'On, Wisconsin,' a song he co-wrote with Bob Dylan". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  24. Greene, Andy (November 13, 2018). "How a Wisconsin Singer Got a Bob Dylan Co-Writing Credit for New Song 'On, Wisconsin'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 14, 2018.